Northern Virginia Health Foundation Awards First-Ever Grants to Address Social Factors that Affect Health

Northern Virginia Health Foundation Awards First-Ever Grants to Address Social Factors that Affect Health

For the first time, the Northern Virginia Health Foundation (NVHF) has awarded $125,000 to five organizations in the region that are working to address social determinants of health—problems like inadequate housing, limited access to healthy foods, and other factors that influence our health beyond access to health care.

The Foundation has traditionally focused its grantmaking on organizations that provide health care and other health services to low-income and uninsured residents. While it is critically important that Northern Virginia residents have access to quality, affordable care, the Foundation also recognizes that health outcomes are also driven by “upstream factors,” such as the circumstances in which people, live, work, learn, and play.

“How can we expect people to stay healthy if they lack transportation to affordable, healthy food options or if they live in unsafe housing? With these grants, we have an exciting opportunity to tackle the factors that contribute to health problems,” said Patricia Mathews, President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Health Foundation. “We look forward to working with such a highly-skilled, diverse group of organizations, from across a variety of sectors, that are committed to improving health in our region.”

Each grantee received $25,000 to plan community-specific initiatives in partnership with other local organizations. Grantees include:

  • Rebuilding Together, which will pilot a home repair program to address common household health and safety issues facing low-income homeowners in Fairfax County.
  • Arcadia Food, Inc., which will work to increase access to healthy food by establishing a mobile market, installing community gardens, and providing nutrition education classes in Bailey’s Crossroads where residents have few, affordable healthy food options.
  • Loudoun Interfaith Relief, which is working to launch a food prescription program to make it easier for low-income families to access healthy foods. Through the program, health care professionals give out food recommendations or “prescriptions.” The initiative will also provide community-based nutrition education.
  • Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) of Northern Virginia, which will conduct an assessment of issues facing vulnerable children in Loudoun County, develop recommendations to address identified gaps, and establish an ongoing network to begin to meet the needs of children and youth, recognizing that maltreated children are at greater risk of poor emotional and psychological health.
  • Recognizing that non-clinical factors such as food preference, language, and views on medical care can influence health, Cornerstones is partnering with community organizations to identify those factors and then develop culturally relevant diabetes prevention programs to  support low-income  residents of Herndon and Reston with  their self-care.

Because collaboration across sectors—government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and health care providers—is a key ingredient in working “upstream” to improve health outcomes, each grant applicant was required to assemble a team of partners to work together to reach their proposed program goals.

“There are organizations across the region working on issues that impact health, and some of these groups may not even realize the powerful role they can play,” said Tricia Rodgers, NVHF Program Officer. “It is our hope that, through these new partnerships, more organizations in the region will begin to see themselves as key players in prevention and wellness strategies.”

Planning for each of these initiatives is set to begin in January 2016.

A full list of grantees and their partner organizations can be found below:

  • Arcadia Food, Inc. (with Partnership for a Healthier Fairfax, Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County Park Authority, Fairfax County Health Department, Inova Health System, Virginia Cooperative Extension/Fairfax County Office, and Kaiser Permanente)
  • Cornerstones (with HealthWorks for Northern Virginia, Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services, YMCA of Fairfax County/Reston, Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, and the Fairfax County Health Department)
  • Loudoun Interfaith Relief (with HealthWorks for Northern Virginia, Loudoun County Health Department, Loudoun Valley HomeGrown Markets Cooperative, Junior League of Northern Virginia, and Loudoun Pediatric Obesity Coalition)
  • Rebuilding Together (with Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, Fairfax County Department of Family Services Adult and Aging Division and the Fairfax County Housing and Community Development Division)
  • SCAN of Northern Virginia (with Loudoun Citizens for Social Justice, Loudoun County Department of Family Services, Loudoun County Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Developmental Services, and HealthWorks for Northern Virginia)

Photo credit: Natalie Maynor via Flickr