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CDC Awards Virginia $4.3M to Scale Up Community Health Workers to Support COVID-19 Response and Recovery


Media Contacts: 
VDH: Brookie Crawford, public information officer, Central Region, [email protected]
IPHI: Taya Jarman, [email protected]

CDC Awards Virginia $4.3M to Scale Up Community Health Workers to Support Covid-19 Response and Recovery

(RICHMOND, Va.) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded more than $4.3 million to the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI), which applied for funding on behalf of the Virginia Department of Health and a host of collaborating partners, to expand the roles and capacity of community health workers (CHWs) in supporting COVID-19 response and recovery in the Commonwealth. The funded effort entitled, Community Health Workers for a Healthy Virginia (CHWs for a Healthy VA), will also explore innovative financing strategies to help build and sustain the CHW workforce long-term. The CDC grant is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act of 2020.

Community health workers are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/or have an unusually close understanding of the communities they serve. These trusting relationships enable CHWs to conduct community outreach, provide health education, offer social support, and facilitate access to community resources effectively.

As required by the CDC, the Virginia initiative will focus on geographic areas of Virginia with high rates of COVID-19 identified by project partners. Those areas include parts of the Richmond metro region, Norfolk, Portsmouth, the Danville area, and the Southwest Virginia communities served by the Mount Rogers Health District. Through the grant, community-based organizations, health care providers, local health departments, and other partners will hire and deploy CHWs, and IPHI will assist with training and provide technical assistance. Public health approaches utilizing CHWs will address gaps in access to COVID-related services, such as testing, vaccination, and quarantine support, and respond to community needs that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, such as access to health and mental health care, housing services, and food assistance.

“For a variety of reasons COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on some communities including urban African American and LatinX communities and rural communities in Southwest Virginia,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “Community health workers on the frontlines, embedded in communities, have a unique view of community and individual needs. Developing the community health worker workforce has been a priority for Virginia for many years, and this grant is a big boost to our efforts.”

“The Institute for Public Health Innovation is honored to lead this important effort on behalf of Virginia Department of Health and so many other partners across Virginia,” said IPHI President and CEO Michael Rhein. “It’s exciting to see the federal government make these investments in CHWs in Virginia and across the country. CHWs are an essential aspect of any state’s action to eliminate disparities and inequities in public health.”

IPHI, VDH, and their partners will work within priority communities and populations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, support community recovery, and resilience, and implement demonstration projects to test financing models to sustain CHWs and community resource providers. The goals for pilot communities include increasing primary care service use and access to community services among high-risk populations, decreasing emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and reducing healthcare spending. CHWs for a Healthy VA will support the front-line pandemic response and recovery efforts. It will also promote long-term community health by creating replicable and sustainable financing models that will strengthen and permanently reinforce the CHW-workforce throughout Virginia.

The CARES Act allocated funds to the CDC to train and deploy CHWs to respond to COVID-19 efforts and to build and reinforce community resilience. The CHWs for a Healthy VA will serve more than 1.6 million residents in Virginia.

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The CDC, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services fully funded the first year of Virginia’s project with a grant of $4,339,895. CDC intends to offer two subsequent years of funding based on progress and availability of funds. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

About Institute for Public Health Innovation

IPHI develops multi-sector partnerships and innovative solutions to improve the public’s health and well-being across Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. IPHI’s work strengthens health systems and policy, enhances conditions that promote health, and builds community capacity to ensure equitable health opportunities for all. This non-profit is one of over 40 public health institutes across the country and is a member of the National Network of Public Health Institutes. For more information on IPHI, visit: Follow IPHI on Facebook and Twitter @InstitutePHI.

Institute for Public Health Innovation Awarded $1 million to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations in Washington D.C. and Prince George’s County

Washington, DC — The Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI) was awarded $1 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to help increase COVID-19 vaccinations in high-need areas of the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County, Maryland. IPHI was one of 127 organizations awarded $121 million in America Rescue Plan funds. The one-year grant will support IPHI in partnering with eight clinics and community-based organizations. Project partners will utilize community health workers (CHW) to share public health information and support their fellow community members to trust and receive the vaccine.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing health disparities and inequities in Washington, D.C. and neighboring Prince George’s County, Maryland. Residents in these communities need dedicated support to have their questions answered, navigate barriers to vaccination, and connect to necessary resources,” said IPHI president & CEO Michael Rhein. Outreach will focus primarily on the geographic areas of Southeast D.C. (wards 7 and 8) and the areas of neighboring Prince George’s County, Maryland that are closest to D.C. Historically, these areas have experienced poorer health outcomes due to a variety of social and economic factors and have lower rates of vaccinations. The collaborative efforts of this project will offer additional outreach, engagement, information, and navigation to resources from trusted, trained community members. Mobilizing CHWs is a critical strategy to achieve more equitable health outcomes.

IPHI will partner with the following local organizations:

  • Capital Area Food Bank
  • Damien Ministries
  • Family & Medical Counseling Service, Inc.
  • Food & Friends
  • La Clínica del Pueblo
  • Metro Health
  • Volunteers of America
  • Whitman-Walker Health

“With longstanding regional inequities more pronounced than ever, we’re pleased to work with IPHI to help people get the information and resources they need to safeguard their health. People want to hear from those they know and trust, and we’re proud to be a community partner that our neighbors can turn to,” said Capital Area Food Bank President Radha Muthiah. CHWs are trusted members of and/or have a close understanding of the community who are trained and employed as part of the public health workforce. Rhein added, “Using CHWs to enhance community outreach and health education is an evidence-based strategy. With the rise of the Delta variant, we cannot slow our efforts to offer every area resident the information and support needed to get vaccinated.”

IPHI will serve as the lead coordinating organization, providing overarching employment, training, management, and administrative support. Local partners will assist in recruiting CHWs from within their communities and serve as placement sites for the 12-month period. IPHI is hiring community health workers to work with the community in increasing vaccination. Candidates interested in applying for these positions should visit: here.

The goal of the American Rescue Plan funding is to support trusted voices in local communities in sharing information about vaccines, building vaccine confidence, and addressing barriers to vaccination for individuals in under-resourced communities. This funding was made available by the American Rescue Plan and is being distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through HRSA.


About Institute for Public Health Innovation

IPHI develops multi-sector partnerships and innovative solutions to improve the public’s health and well-being across Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Our work strengthens health systems and policy, enhances conditions that promote health, and builds community capacity to ensure equitable health opportunities for all. IPHI is one of over 40 public health institutes across the country and a member of the National Network of Public Health Institutes. For more information on IPHI, visit: Follow IPHI on Facebook and Twitter @InstitutePHI.

IPHI Launches Weekly COVID-19 Video Conference Series for Community Health Workers

During the growing community spread of COVID-19 nationally and in our region, there has rightfully been discussion of the roles of community health workers (CHWs) in responding to the pandemic. CHWs are vital members of the health workforce and can contribute greatly during health emergencies and the recovery that follows. We believe there needs to be even more attention on this topic.

In response to the changing environment and requests from CHWs for information and support, the Institute for Public Innovation, through its Center for the Community Health Workforce, will launch a video conference series to have open discussions and presentations and provide tips, tools, and resources for CHWs and persons working with CHWs as they help individuals to navigate this COVID-19 crisis. We invite all DC, MD, and VA Community Health Workers, Outreach Workers, Community Health Advocates, Community Health Advisors, or anyone who provides community outreach, health education, healthcare navigation, peer-based social support, or similar roles to participate in this series.

Sessions will run every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. throughout April 2020, with the potential for continuation in subsequent months.  Recordings will be posted to IPHI’s YouTube channel.

For more information, please contact Program Coordinator Dwyan Monroe at [email protected].

IPHI to be Featured in National Workshop on the Workforce for Population Health Improvement

On March 21, 2019, the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement, part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, will convene a one-day public workshop to explore the broad and multidisciplinary nature of the population health workforce.  Michael Rhein and Dwyan Monroe from the Institute for Public Health Innovation will talk about community health workers in a segment of the workshop. The program will also include several community health workers from the DC, MD, and VA regions. The workshop will be webcast from the Roundtable’s webpage, and the proceedings of the presentations and discussion will be prepared following the event. Those interested in attending the event live may register: HERE.

Visit the CHW area of this website for more information on IPHI’s community health worker initiatives.

IPHI Celebrates 19 Graduates of the CHW Core Skills Training

IPHI is excited to congratulate 19 Community Health Worker (CHW) Core Skills Training graduates facilitated from July through August in Richmond this summer. On August 29, 2018, community health workers from across Virginia completed a rigorous CHW training course that covered the foundations of health equity, public health knowledge, communication skills, care coordination, teaching & capacity building, health education and promotion, outreach strategies, advocacy, wellness, legal and ethical issues, and data collection and documentation. During this interactive and participatory class, students had the chance to learn more about these topics through guided discussions, group activities, and reflection on the health problems in their own communities. After finishing this course, each graduate was a step closer to getting the new CHW certification in Virginia.

Several CHWs spoke of how this training provided them with the skills needed to succeed as CHWs. Read their statements below.

Sean Reid: 

“My name is Sean Reid and I formally became a CHW because I truly believe that environmental and social factors can have a profound effect on an individual’s overall health. My role as a community health worker will be to bridge the gap between the population in which we serve, the health care system, and community resources. Being a community health worker means having the compassion, empathy, and capacity to relate and connect with individuals on a level which makes relationships organic. The training I’ve embarked on has been nothing less than amazing. I’ve been blessed with knowledge and understanding of various topics that prior to this training I was totally unaware and ignorant to. I’m now well equipped to perform my duties as a community health worker at an elite level.”

Greisy Fernandez Gil: 

“Being a Promotora de Salud and volunteering for different organizations that help the Spanish-speaking population living in Richmond and neighboring areas has allowed me to do outreach work and participate in several community events. While doing so, I could notice the needs a lot of people have and the fact that, even though there are many available resources, sometimes people just seem not to know where to go and look for help. That was, primarily, my motivation to become a CHW.

I find helping others very motivating and heartwarming. I believe it gives my life a deeper feeling of purpose and fulfillment. I also love learning and IPHI has offered me the opportunity, not only to do something I enjoy doing but to learn and grow as a professional. I am grateful for that.

In our training, I have met many CHWs and Outreach workers with a noticeable team-work spirit and enriching personal and professional experiences. For me, it has been a real joy to be a part of this process. Besides, the dedication our trainers put in all the work they do is very encouraging as well. I am so excited and willing to use all the skills I’ve learned so far, for the benefit of my clients.”

Celita Washington

“Growing up I have always found myself assisting others. In my early teens, I realized that it was something that I actually enjoyed doing! When you get to see the results and a smile on that person’s face is one of my greatest rewards. That’s when I realized that it was my calling to work with individuals and the community altogether to create, see and be a positive impact on other’s lives. I became a CHW because it gave me a chance to help people on a more professional level. The CHW training courses were nothing short of amazing and have allowed me to maximize on the amount of knowledge I have gained in addition to previous experiences to add to my current skill set. Having the opportunity to service the community and be one of the leading causes in change to see a rise in successful cases and positive growth within the health system in the years to come is what I seek to accomplish as a CHW. It’s of significant meaning to me to have become a CHW to help my clients hone in on addressing the social determinants and seek out healthier lifestyles for the greater good of each individual and humanity as a whole.”

D.C. Outreach Workers’ Conference 2018

On July 24 and 25, 2018, IPHI, DCPCA, DC Health, and La Clinica del Pueblo worked together to organize the 1st Annual DC Outreach Workers’ Conference. The 2-day event brought CHWs, outreach workers, and stakeholders together to participate in workshops and get up-to-date information on the state of public health in DC.

The presentations and training topics included:

  • National CHW Policy
  • Health & Immigration
  • HIV in DC
  • Chronic Disease Self-Management
  • Mental Health & Trauma-Informed Care
  • The Opioid Epidemic & the Role for CHWs
  • Naloxone Training
  • CHW Sustainability: CHW Advocacy
  • Love, Sex, and Spirituality
  • The CHW Professional Association of DC

We look forward to connecting with CHWs monthly at our continuing education sessions and CHWPADC meeting and to working with other stakeholders to continue moving CHW sustainability forward in D.C.

Check out photos from the day: HERE.

Regional Update on CHW Workforce Development and Certification

CHW Certification and Workforce Development – Spring 2018 Update


Great news concerning CHW certification comes out of Maryland! Together with chapters of the Maryland CHW Network and other partners, IPHI was highly involved in the CHW certification legislation introduced during the recent legislative session. Delegate Clarence K. Lam and Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam continued to be two champions of CHW certification. With their leadership, the bill for voluntary CHW certification passed through the General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Hogan May 8, 2018. This bill establishes the State Community Health Worker Advisory Committee within the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and requires MDH to adopt specified regulations related to the training and certification of community health workers in the State. The bill also establishes the State Community Health Workers Fund.

IPHI joins the MD CHW Network and other stakeholders to witness Gov. Hogan sign the CHW certification bill into law May 8, 2018.

We at IPHI believe this a key milestone in achieving CHW sustainability in Maryland and recognize the hard work and dedication of everyone, particularly the Maryland CHWs, who worked tirelessly advocating for the bill. There is still a lot of work to be done and we look forward to partnering with MDH, The Maryland CHW Network, and other stakeholders to continue working towards CHW sustainability.

To find out more read the final bill in its entirety.


IPHI, together with the Virginia Community Health Worker Association, held a one-day forum for community health workers from across the Commonwealth of Virginia on May 18, 2018, at the Libbie Mill Library in Richmond, Virginia. The forum featured speakers with expertise in Medicaid, opioids, disabilities, housing, and equity among other key topics. The primary goals of the forum were to:

  • Train CHWs on topics such as Medicaid, opioids, cultural humility, and working with special populations;
  • Provide updates on the state of CHW workforce development in Virginia, with a special emphasis on CHW certification; and
  • Provide opportunities for CHWs from across the Commonwealth to connect with the Virginia Community Health Worker Association.

Certified Community Health Worker Credential Now Available 

IPHI is pleased to announce that a new credential for community health workers is now available through the Virginia Certification Board. Since 2012, IPHI has worked with partners in Virginia on CHW workforce development through the CHW Advisory Group, and we are proud of the progress that has been accomplished by this partnership. The credential was developed by and reviewed, approved, and supported by the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Community Health Worker Advisory Group, and the Virginia Community Health Worker Association.

Requirements for CHW certification can be found in the certification application by clicking on this link: CCHW Application. Learn more about the Virginia Certification Board online at For questions about the CCHW process, email Virginia Certification Board at [email protected]. IPHI will continue to work with partners to refine the certification process as well as to support and implement policies that advance the CHW workforce in VA.

See IPHI’s Community Health Worker Initiatives for more information or contact [email protected].