Local organizations win Inova health equity grants


Organizations that received Inova health equity grants display their checks. (Credit: Inova Health System)

Several organizations around the Richmond Highway Corridor have been awarded Health Equity Opportunities grants from Inova to help fund local programming.

According to an Aug. 29 Inova news release, LAZERA Ministries, United Community and the Growth and Healing HUB were three of the 23 organizations throughout Northern Virginia to receive funding.

LAZERA Ministries, which has provided social-emotional wellness, system-based advocacy and basic life needs support to residents of the Richmond Highway Corridor since 2019, received a $50,000 grant from Inova to support its Community Health Collective. 

The collective, said LAZERA Executive Director Yolonda Earl-Thompson, is comprised of three programs employing culturally relevant and traditional healing practices to reduce anxiety, depression, isolation and suicidal thoughts among members of marginalized communities: the Healing Circles Program, which involves meditation and sound therapy; the UBUNTU ASA Program, which provides cultural enrichment and civic engagement activities to youth affected by trauma; and the Keeping It Real Support Group, a monthly discussion forum for Black women.

LAZERA Ministries' Youth Leadership Team hosted a Teen Summit at the Hybla Valley Community Center Aug. 19. (Credit: LAZERA Ministries/Facebook)

The health equity funds from Inova will enable LAZERA to shift its focus from fundraising to intentional planning and execution of program goals, said Thompson.

“We are super excited about our partnership with Inova Health System to help us be the change we seek,” she said. Noting the successful Teen Summit that LAZERA’s youth leadership held at the Hybla Valley Community Center Aug. 19, Thompson said the grant will allow the organization to move from vision to implementation of the solutions the teens created and support them in “changing the Route 1 Corridor and bringing pride to the Highway.”

Another organization that’s benefiting from Inova’s health equity support is United Community, which received a $20,000 grant to support its SPARKS out-of-school programming for children at the Creekside and Sacramento Community Centers. According to Chief Development Officer Margaret Cartier, United Community’s funding will help promote healthy habits and nutrition, physical activity and social-emotional learning. The SPARKS programming employs evidence-based models to provide education, activities and measurable impact aligning with the priorities of behavioral health, health access and economic stability, she said.

Children from United Community's SPARKS program visit the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. (Credit: United Community)

“We are very grateful to Inova for this support and very excited to implement this new programming with the children at our community centers,” said Cartier.

United Community received a similar grant from Inova back in 2021, which helped the nonprofit expand its healthy food markets in under-resourced communities.

The last of the Richmond Highway area organizations to receive an Inova grant was the Growth and Healing HUB, a behavioral health and wellness clinic for children, youth and families. The clinic, based at Mount Vernon Plaza, received $50,000 in funding. On the MoVe was unable to get further details in time for publication.

All applicants for Inova’s annual Health Equity Opportunities are required to propose programs based on the Community Health Needs Assessments. The 2022 assessment for Mount Vernon can be viewed here.

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