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Williamsburg Health Foundation Announces Grants for June 2023

On Monday, June 5, 2023, the Board of Trustees of the Williamsburg Health Foundation (WHF) met and approved 20 grants worth over $4 million. “We are happy to continue our relationship and investments with legacy partners which support our strategic plan,” said Deanna Van Hersh, WHF President and CEO. “This funding cycle, we are also pleased to invest in and highlight two new programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of children in our community.”

 Under the strategic goal to “Target behavioral and social risk factors that influence the health of individuals throughout the life span,” the Foundation has awarded $816,000 toward “Healthy Eating Active Living” programs. This summer, access to free healthy meals for children will be available in our area. WHF is excited to partner with the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools to provide healthy and “Happier meals” for children in the City of Williamsburg and James City County during summer break. Free lunches will be available 12:00-1:00 pm, Monday-Thursday for children under 18 from June 26th through August 17th at James River Elementary School.  

Under the strategic goal to “Strengthen the healthcare safety-net for uninsured and underinsured individuals,” the Board of Trustees has approved over $2 million toward Integrated Care and Behavioral Health Services. WHF is happy to highlight the launch of a new school-based play therapy program, Play to Thrive, developed by William and Mary’s Flanagan Counselor Education Clinic. Play to Thrive aims to improve the well-being of young children experiencing social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties in Williamsburg-James City County Community Action Agency’s Head Start program. Dr. Erin Woods, Director of the Flanagan Counselor Education Clinic said, “We are thrilled to partner with the Williamsburg Health Foundation to deliver services through the Play to Thrive program. This initiative will not only impact the lives of those we serve but will also provide valuable clinical experience to counselors in training.”

Williamsburg Health Foundation continues to prioritize funding and investing in collaborative programs and innovative ways to impact systems that improve the health and well-being of individuals in the Greater Williamsburg area across their lifespan. According to Bill Pribble, Vice President of Programs, “An important part of investing across the lifespan includes making investments to improve the health of youth. This is a long-term investment in the future health of our community.”

Foundations join to support mental health education in Virginia 

The Williamsburg Health Foundation is collaborating with 17 other philanthropic foundations from throughout Virginia to provide funding for expanded REACH behavioral health trainings for primary care providers treating children, adolescents, and young adults across the Commonwealth.  More than $170,000 has been contributed by these foundations to address the growing need for improved access to mental health care.  

The primary goal of the Virginia Mental Health Access Program (VMAP) is to ensure better mental health for children.  Through education initiatives, training, and access to specialists, primary care providers are better equipped to screen, diagnose, manage, and treat mental health, ensuring better quality of life for children and their families.  VMAP will coordinate two REACH trainings serving up to 80 primary care providers.   These intensive three-day, 16-hour interactive courses for physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are focused on building skills and confidence in diagnosing and treating pediatric behavioral health problems. Following course completion, they participate in bi-monthly calls with national primary care and child/adolescent psychiatry experts to address cases in their daily practices. 

The VMAP program is administered by the Medical Society of Virginia Foundation (MSVF) through a contract with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.  Melina Davis, CEO of MSV & Executive Director of MSVF shared, “To have the philanthropic community come together in support of this work has been incredible. We’re hopeful that the impact of these trainings will benefit all of Virginia by improving education and resources for youth mental health.”  

According to Fairfax pediatrician and VMAP Founder, Dr. Sandy Chung, “Our foundation partners responded quickly in a meaningful way to help us address pediatric behavioral health needs - needs that are growing exponentially, outpacing the availability of mental health providers. The pandemic worsened a youth mental health crisis that was already present. We now have more young people than ever before suffering from anxiety, depression, and thoughts of self-harm. With VMAP, primary care providers can be prepared with the best information to help children and their families right away.” 

Participating foundations include: 

The Alleghany Foundation 

The Annabella Jenkins Foundation 

Bob and Anna Lou Schaberg Foundation 

Claude Moore Charitable Foundation 

Community Foundation for greater Richmond 

Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties 

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia 

Culpeper Wellness Foundation 

Danville Regional Foundation 

The Harvest Foundation 

Northern Piedmont Community Foundation 

Northern Virginia Health Foundation 

PATH Foundation  

Potomac Health Foundation 

Richmond Memorial Health Foundation 

Virginia Health Care Foundation 

Wellspring Foundation of Southwest Virginia 

Williamsburg Health Foundation 

Deanna Van Hersh, CEO and President of the Williamsburg Health Foundation, says, “The Williamsburg Health Foundation is grateful to be part of this collaborative of foundations from around the Commonwealth who are working together to address mental health. We believe partnerships across organizations is critical to addressing the mental health challenges facing our children and communities.”   

The Williamsburg Health Foundation has a corpus of over $135 million and distributes an average of $5 million in grants annually in the Greater Williamsburg area. The Foundation also convenes agencies to address health-related challenges that cannot be solved by one organization or sector alone. 

For more information about The Virginia Mental Health Assistance Program and REACH visit: