Nearly 80% of what influences a person’s health relates to nonmedical issues, such as food, housing, transportation, and the financial means to pay for basic daily needs, according to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The impact of social determinants of health on Virginia communities has been further worsened by the pandemic.
To help address this situation, UnitedHealthcare is awarding $2.25 million in Empowering Health grants to 13 community-based organizations, including several in Virginia, to expand access to care and address the social drivers of health for financially vulnerable individuals and underserved communities.
The grants will assist individuals and families experiencing challenges from food insecurity, social isolation and behavioral health issues, and support local health promotion and health literacy efforts.
“Maintaining good health can be a challenge for those faced with certain social and economic factors,” said Tameeka Smith, CEO, Virginia Community & State. “Empowering Health grants are key to providing underserved communities access to quality, affordable care close to home.”
The grants will be provided to the following organizations:
- Urban Baby Beginnings to support training, certification, mentoring and collaboration for community-based doulas of color to complement clinical services for uninsured and underinsured women of color.
- Capital Area Food Bank to start a food pharmacy for pregnant women, new mothers and children up to 3 years old in Northern Virginia.
- National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Virginia to develop a new program for older adults to address depression, promote healthy lifestyles and improve wellness. In addition, the grants will support the NAMI Llama and NAMI Talks Hero’s Journey educational series as a platform for discussions about mental health.
- Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation to implement the Healthy Lifestyles program to train mentors of kids ages 9 to 14 at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula and Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia. Topics will include healthy nutritional habits and the importance of physical fitness and overall well-being.
- St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation to support a food pharmacy program coordinator for the Norfolk Food Ecosystem project.
- Virginia Fresh Match to help integrate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program produce incentives with low-capacity, low-technology sellers such as farm stands, rural grocery stores and immigrant-owned convenience stores.
Since launching its Empowering Health commitment in 2018, UnitedHealthcare has invested more than $40 million in grants reaching more than 6 million people through partnerships with community-based organizations in 29 states.
In the Mid-Atlantic region this includes more than $11.9 million in contributions from 2018-2020.
UnitedHealth Group, including UnitedHealthcare, Optum and its affiliated companies, is committed to reducing health disparities and building healthier communities by supporting programs to improve access to care and address key determinants of health.