Johns Hopkins Medicine and Sibley Memorial Hospital Announce 2021 Award Winners to Advance Health Equity In Washington


Johns Hopkins Medicine and Sibley Memorial Hospital have announced the 2021 grant winners of their Ward Infinity program, which aims to improve community health in Washington, D.C.’s most underserved neighborhoods by inviting members of the community to propose solutions to ongoing challenges. Each year, Sibley Memorial Hospital considers dozens of applicants and selects five for further financial investment. Past winners include Market 7, DMV UrbanGreens, Playback Theatre, WANDA and the Fresh Food Factory.

Marissa McKeever, Sibley Memorial Hospital’s director of government and community affairs, helped establish Ward Infinity in 2017 to make Sibley a more active partner in addressing local population health issues — such as environment, education and poverty — particularly in the district’s Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8.

“We wanted to set up an initiative that would create community-driven solutions,” says McKeever. “By listening to the community and not just coming in with our own agenda, we are fostering real collaboration and encouraging people to be change agents. And this year’s applicants are more than up to the task.”

The hospital asked 2021 applicants to focus on three main areas: increasing access and availability to fresh food, strengthening bonds and emotional well-being, and shaping healthy environments. The five winners are:

· Healthy Home Pediatrics: A group of health care professionals who provide in-home primary, urgent and sick care to mothers and infants, thus relieving mothers of transportation- and cost-related stresses. Their newest initiative will offer wraparound services, which provide care systems for children with complex needs.

· Dynamic Solutions for the Aging: A health and housing organization that wants to create a home health cooperative for older adults living in the district. The caregivers will be residents of Wards 7 and 8 who have undergone training, and their partial ownership of the co-op will improve their own economic stability.

· Wassup Té in collaboration with Gym Jones and Mix-I-Am Entertainment: A Washington wellness company, working alongside a local activist and an entertainment business, that inspires Southeast Washington residents to live a healthier lifestyle through movement, music and art.

· Infinite Possibilities International: An environmental advocacy group that focuses their work on areas where asthma and other environment-related conditions are prevalent. They encourage youth to become environmental stewards, enjoy local green spaces and pursue environmentally focused careers.

· Medici Road: A community development organization seeking to create a food co-op for residents east of the Anacostia River to help alleviate the area’s dearth of access to healthy food.

Sibley Memorial Hospital will provide each team with a $25,000 grant, as well as ongoing support and entrepreneurship training.

“When health institutions involve members of the community in the quest to advance health equity, the results are extraordinary,” says Veronica X. Vela, Sibley Memorial Hospital’s director of community health design and innovation. “No one knows the health concerns of a community better than the members themselves, so who better to generate solutions?”