Health Equity Fund

A Year in Review (2023)

The Richmond Health Equity Fund (HEF) is the first and biggest project of the Richmond and Henrico Public Health Foundation—and just the third municipal Health Equity Fund in the country. In 2023, we undertook high-impact work that both advanced our mission of putting resources into community-based projects and that challenged entrenched inequities in our populations’ health outcomes.  

Because the HEF was established through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds at the end of 2021, 2023 provided an important look at the way partner organizations and the services they provide are improving the health outcomes of Richmond residents.  

Investing in the Community: HEF Recipients

HEF investments enable each organization to develop innovative, responsive programming and initiatives that meet community members where they are. Over the course of 2023, the HEF committed funds to 13 extraordinary organizations. Whether the organization is new to the HEF or renewing a partnership, each addresses disparities in one of the HEF’s seven focus areas. 

New Investments

With the addition of 10 new HEF recipients, the Fund’s 2023 profile increasingly reflects the breadth of community-driven needs and resources in the Richmond region: 

Access to Care & Education

Nationz Foundation Inc.

STI/STD testing and emergency support services.

Food Access & Security

The Happily Natural Day

Three-season youth farming program and online urban farm fellowship. 

Substance Use & Recovery


Transitional housing support and case management for residents returning from incarceration settings with a history of substance use. 

Gateway Community Health

Love Cathedral Education Academy curriculum implementation and recovery-centered services to assist those in treatment or in recovery for substance use disorder.  

Mental & Behavioral Health

The Hive

Community based, healing-centered case management program for youth touched by the criminal legal system.

Daily Planet Health Services

Mental and behavioral healthcare support for those experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.  

Underlying Health Conditions

Virginia Community Voice

Community-engaged design and planning for holistic health space.  

Maternal & Child Health

Urban Baby Beginnings

Maternal hub program providing an allotment of diapers to families in need.  

Virginia Prison Birth Project

Doula services and perinatal programs that support justice-impacted birthing people in prison, jail, rehabilitation facilities and/or on probation in the community.


Sacred Heart

Vaccine and other resource/referral services for Spanish-speaking clients. 


In 2023, the HEF supported additional funding for three organizations initially funded in 2022:  

Substance Use & Recovery

Opportunity, Alliance, and Reentry (OAR) of Richmond. 

Mental & Behavioral Health

Richmond Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA): Community and individual mental health services through three RRHA community resource centers.  

Waymakers Foundation: Culturally relevant emergency nutrition services.  

Each recipient was announced and awarded at a city-led press conference, with support from members of City Council and Mayor Stoney, who calls the HEF critical to Richmond’s health outcomes: “We can reduce the racial health disparities we see in infant mortality, opioid overdoses, mental health, severe COVID-19 and chronic diseases with close collaboration between government, public health, and community organizations. Our investments today in community-based solutions will help ensure we have the best people and tools available to achieve health equity in our great city.”

 Visit our investments page for more information about each recipient and their scope of work.  

Impact by the Numbers

Annual data show that each new HEF recipient makes culturally affirming, community-oriented care and social services available to more and more residents—particularly those with limited financial resources or who experience health disparities rooted in the marginalization of communities of color.  

2023 annual report metrics: 

  • 4,720 individuals have received HEF-funded services: that’s 2% of Richmond’s entire population!  
  • Nearly 59% of people served by HEF partners have a household income of $0 – $23,030. 
  • Nearly 80% of people served by HEF partners are community members of color.


Examples of HEF partner impact:  

  • The Happily Natural Day produced 20,160 pounds of food through their farms and gardens for community members.  
  • Nationz Foundation tested 129 individuals for HIV.  
  • 91 Richmond families received direct birth support with a Community Doula, and 25 community-based doulas received training and support to achieve State Certification through the Urban Baby Beginnings, Birth in Color, and Healthy Hearts Plus II doula collaborative. 
  • REAL LIFE successfully coordinated care for 207 individuals impacted by substance use across both health care systems and social services systems, including criminal justice, housing and employment support, and child welfare.  

Paving the Way for a Healthier Richmond

Numeric data is only one measure of success. We also hear about the impact HEF partners make though interactions with community members and through service feedback. Each recipient’s experience paints a clearer picture of the numbers above.  

Waymakers Foundation emerged as a key player in food access for Hispanic communities during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic after founder Natasha Lemus observed a gap in food services for residents from Central and South America. HEF funding enabled the delivery of fresh, culturally relevant groceries for families with acute food insecurity. Personal delivery also allowed Waymakers to share COVID-19 education, mental health support resources, and referrals to services.  

Funding from the HEF allowed the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority to dedicate a full-time clinician to three public housing communities in Richmond: Whitcomb, Hillside, and Gilpin Courts. The clinician, Jaquetta Gosier, assesses, diagnoses, offers treatment recommendations and short-term counseling, and makes referrals.  

Through the Health Equity Fund investment, Nolef Turns provided transitional housing, harm reduction, recovery, and case management support with a focus on individuals with a history of substance of use. The risk of overdose for these individuals in the weeks post-release from incarceration can be grave, but with HEF resources Nolef Turns provided the support that is often missing to reduce these risks and promote thriving for our returning citizens. 

These reflections demonstrate the HEF’s commitment to programs where individual interactions reverberate across families and communities to create sustainable change.