Greater Washington Community Foundation Announces Over $12.5M in Health Advocacy, Policy, and Systems Change Support

This funding, which marks the second round of Health Equity Fund investments, will support 14 DC-area organizations.

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#HEALTHEQUITY–Today, the Greater Washington Community Foundation awarded more than $12.5 million in Health Equity Fund grants to 14 DC-based nonprofits working on health advocacy, policy, and systems change initiatives that address the social and structural determinants of health. This marks the largest single grant round in The Community Foundation’s 50-year history.

“We know that 80% of DC’s health outcomes are driven by social, structural, and economic factors, with clinical care accounting for only 20%,” said Tonia Wellons, President & CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. “Health and wealth are inextricably linked – which is why we are confident that activating resources to change systems and policies as well as to increase economic mobility will be instrumental in improving health outcomes for District of Columbia residents.”

The $95 million Health Equity Fund (HEF) is designed to improve health outcomes and to help achieve health equity for the people of the District of Columbia. It is one of the largest philanthropic funds of any kind focused on community-based nonprofits that serve District residents.

“In this round, we are investing in organizations who seek to change structural determinants of health over the long-term,” said Dr. Nnemdi Elias, Chair of the Health Equity Committee. “We recognize this mandate requires deep investment and collaboration, which is why our partners will also work together to share best practices and leverage their collective strengths as we build a healthier future for DC’s residents.”

With these investments:

  • Black Women Thriving East of the River will support data, training, advocacy, and education to better position Black women living east of the Anacostia River to acquire and maintain employment in health-related careers.
  • Emerald Cities Collaborative Inc. will develop a Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) economic inclusion initiative to create local-level business opportunities aligned with city-wide diversity and inclusion goals, and will strengthen the capacity of DC’s Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) contractors to execute and bid on BEPS project opportunities.
  • La Clinica del Pueblo will support efforts to challenge citizenship as a determinant of social and legal belonging through advocacy work that addresses the health coverage exclusion of noncitizens and supports equal access to high-quality care, regardless of status.
  • The National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens will lead four years of advocacy to enact change through the Black-led #SafeAndFreeDC legislative policy agenda, which addresses health, economic, and racial equity through transformation of the criminal legal system.
  • Whitman-Walker Institute will work with community organizations and District residents to develop a partnership framework that increases cross-sectoral collaboration in policy and advocacy efforts, which will then be used to develop a Queer and Trans Agenda for Racial and Economic Justice.

Additional grantees include: Council for Court Excellence; DC Fiscal Policy Institute; DC Justice Lab; DC Reentry Housing Alliance; Empower DC; Fair Budget Coalition; Many Languages One Voice; Mothers Outreach Network; and Tzedek DC.

“The Health Equity Fund is an unprecedented, community-focused philanthropic endeavor, and this grant round mirrors the extraordinary nature of the fund with specific focus on programs that will create lasting structural and policy changes for our DC community,” said Brian D. Pieninck, President and CEO of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst). “We applaud the tireless efforts of the organizations selected as we work together to find ways to reduce the effects that social and structural determinants have on health outcomes. We are confident these organizations will help to change the economic, social and policy systems that often create and reinforce persistent health inequities in the District.”

This is the second round of grant funding awarded from the Health Equity Fund. The Foundation’s initial pool of $9.2 million in grants, released in October 2022, supported community-based nonprofits in DC that are implementing economic mobility strategies to help close the racial health and wealth gaps. In future rounds of funding, the Greater Washington Community Foundation plans to invest in health innovation.

“In all that we set out to achieve for this great city, addressing the social determinants of health must remain a priority,” said Karima Woods, commissioner at the DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking. “The Health Equity Fund will enable us to implement strategies to improve health outcomes and address important disparities in the delivery of health care services for residents, especially those who have been excluded or marginalized.”

The Community Foundation is working in partnership with a Health Equity Committee mandated by the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the District of Columbia and Group Hospitalization and Medical Services, Inc. (GHMSI), a CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield affiliate. Grant recipients are selected by the Health Equity Committee, a seven-member group appointed by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and the CareFirst affiliate. The Greater Washington Community Foundation reviews and approves proposals and oversees how the funds are invested. In launching the HEF, the parties created an innovative and impactful way of addressing DC’s racial health gap.

About The Greater Washington Community Foundation

For 50 years, the Greater Washington Community Foundation has ignited the power of philanthropy to respond to critical community needs and build a thriving region where every person prospers. As the region’s largest local funder, the Greater Washington Community Foundation has invested nearly $1.7 billion in building equitable, just, and thriving communities across DC, Montgomery County, Northern Virginia, and Prince George’s County.

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Kerry-Ann Hamilton