Funder Profile: Northern Virginia Health Foundation

With the closing of Jefferson Memorial Hospital in 2005, Northern Virginia Health Foundation (NVHF) was established with the goal of improving the health and healthcare of residents of Northern Virginia, especially the uninsured.

Soon after, NVHF began issuing grants to safety-net clinics and nonprofits providing health services to adults and children who couldn’t otherwise afford or access care. Arlington Free Clinic was among the Foundation’s first cohort of grantees and has been a proud partner ever since.

While they’re one of the only foundations in our region still granting general operating support to organizations providing direct healthcare to vulnerable populations, don’t let the lack of restrictions fool you: NVHF consistently challenges AFC and all its grantees to reach beyond our comfort levels to improve our work.

For example, AFC is a partner of NVHF in their innovative work funding special projects to bring about systemic change in the realm of social determinants of health. For the past two years, AFC, along with the three other clinics (Virginia Hospital Center’s Outpatient Clinic, Arlington Pediatric Center, and Arlington Department of Human Service’s Maternity Clinic) serving Arlington’s most vulnerable residents have been funded by NVHF to collect data on the non-medical factors affecting our patients’ health. We’re now using collected data on housing conditions, food insecurity, transportation, and technology to bring to light hidden issues for county leaders who can direct resources to address these problems.

“We are a small foundation,” said Patricia Mathews, NVHF’s President & CEO, “and we strongly believe that our work is not just about the money. That’s why we have always been engaged in important activities ’beyond grantmaking,’” From commissioning important research into equity and in health disparities like obesity, dental care, and mental health – areas in which significant numbers of Northern Virginians are struggling – to partnering with other funders, government agencies, and community stakeholders to share ideas and better leverage resources toward improving the health and well-being of all residents, NVHF is truly on the cutting-edge.