Reinvestment Fund and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation name City of Richmond one of 50 Invest Health Cities

~ City of Richmond to join innovative, national program to improve
health in low-income neighborhoods ~

The City of Richmond has been selected by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to take part in the new Invest Health initiative, aimed at helping community leaders work together to help low-income communities thrive.

The City of Richmond was selected from more than 180 teams from 170 communities with populations between 50,000 and 400,000 that applied to participate in the initiative.

 “We are excited about this opportunity to build new partnerships and forge alliances to help improve communities" said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "This is a unique opportunity to initiate real change with a collaborative approach.”

Mid-size American cities face some of the nation’s deepest challenges with entrenched poverty, poor health and a lack of investment, according to Invest Health. But they also offer fertile ground for strategies -- such as access to safe and affordable housing, places to play and exercise and quality jobs -- that improve health and have the potential to boost local economies.

The initiative has the potential to fundamentally transform the way the City of Richmond improves opportunities to live healthy lives by addressing the drivers of health, including jobs, housing, education, community safety and environmental conditions.

As an Invest Health city, Richmond will receive about $60,000 in grant funding, primarily to support convening and learning opportunities for cross-sector groups. Richmond Memorial Health Foundation will serve as fiscal agent for the grant.

The initiative launches in June with a gathering of representatives of the 50 selected cities in Philadelphia.

Richmond's application was supported by a cross-sector team representing city government, philanthropy and major city institutions. Members were:

  • Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond City Health District,
  • Dr. Risha Berry, with the City of Richmond's Office of Community Wealth Building,
  • Mark Constantine, president and CEO of Richmond Memorial Health Foundation,
  • Sheryl Garland, MHA,  vice president for health policy and community relations at VCU Health System,
  • TK Somanath, chief executive of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

Specific goals of the project include:
  • BRING TOGETHER DISPARATE SECTORS to align around a vision for better health, create innovative ideas, and unlock new sources of investment.
  • HELP ATTRACT CAPITAL to improve health outcomes in low-income communities.  
  • BUILD LASTING RELATIONSHIPS that extend beyond the length of the program and help inform work in other communities.
  • TEST POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS to inform the national conversation about how to best invest to achieve health equity in more communities throughout the U.S.
  • ADVANCE SYSTEMS-FOCUSED STRATEGIES that reach across sectors to support health improvement in low-income communities.
  • USE DATA AS A DRIVER for change, beginning with an evidence-based understanding of the problem and continuing to a data framework for assessing impact.

“With a long history in community development finance, we are excited to help create a pipeline to channel capital into low-income communities through public and private investments,” said Amanda High, Chief of Strategic Initiatives at Reinvestment Fund. “Our goal is to transform how cities approach tough challenges, share lessons learned and spur creative collaboration.”
“Public officials, community developers, and many others have been working in low-income neighborhoods for years, but they haven’t always worked together,” said Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH, MBA, RWJF Vice President, Program. “Invest Health aims to align their work and help neighborhoods thrive by intentionally incorporating health into community development.”

Richmond City Health District
The Richmond City Health District works to improve health and health equity for the residents of Richmond, VA through efforts to promote healthy living, protect the environment, prevent disease and prepare the community for disasters.

Richmond Memorial Health Foundation
The Richmond Memorial Health Foundation invests financial, intellectual and leadership resources through grantmaking, strategic initiatives and partnerships with nonprofit organizations, foundations, government, businesses and academic institutions to improve health and healthcare.
Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority
RRHA fulfills its mission of building vibrant communities by providing quality, affordable housing to families in need, transforming neighborhoods and revitalizing communities, building strategic partnerships to advance our work and supporting resident success through self-sufficiency programs.

Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU also encompasses VCU Health, which comprises five health sciences schools, VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, VCU Massey Cancer Center and Virginia Premier.
Reinvestment Fund

Reinvestment Fund is a catalyst for change in low-income communities. We integrate data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. Using analytical and financial tools, we bring high-quality grocery stores, affordable housing, schools and health centers to the communities that need better access—creating anchors that attract investment over the long term and help families lead healthier, more productive lives. Learn more at

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at