Storytelling Project

Storytelling Project

Throughout 2022 and 2023, Healthcare Initiative Foundation highlighted the FY22 Capacity Building grant partners’ programming, innovations, partnership.  Sharing this work elevated the impact each project had on members of the Montgomery County community. Just as important, these stories reflected how innovation influences organizational and systemic change for a more equitable healthcare system.  Through these stories, created by our grant partners, the Foundation was able to lift up and highlight the leaders within each program and organization that made change a reality while illustrating the hard work that it takes to create change.

Each and every day, the Foundation continues to be inspired by how our  Montgomery County nonprofit community is rising up to challenges and we want to help share these stories!  From June 2022 through July 2023, we had asked each of our FY22 Capacity Building Grant partners to share their work with us in a medium of storytelling that fits their works. We used our available platforms to share their passion and commitment with the greater community.

Vietnamese American Services

In FY22, HIF invested $40,000 to continue supporting VAS’s ongoing work as they promote access to Healthcare Services, by facilitating access to health insurance enrollment and medical interpretation services to be able to seek care regardless of their income and language proficiency; access to communal services on nutrition guidelines, physical activities, and health education to increase knowledge on preventing and controlling chronic illnesses, adopt lifestyle changes to reduce the disease risk, community events to reduce mental health; and access to job training and referral services to improve their economic situation and mitigate the financial barrier of health care access. Here is a highlight of their work in action!

Warrior Canine Connection

In FY22, HIF invested $20,000 to continue the ongoing Mission-based Trauma Recovery (MBTR) program through WCC. MBTR allows military veterans to assist in the training of service dogs, through professional facilitation, with the goal of another veteran receiving that service animal for physical and mental wellness. Warrior Canine Connection is based in Boyds, Md. Here is their press release.

In November, Warrior Canine Connection produced a piece highlighting their connection between a Veteran and his service dog, Jack, named after a fellow Veteran.  Ben’s advice to those who need assistance, “don’t be shy.” To view this wonderful story, click here


In FY22, HIF invested $20,000 to support CASA’s ongoing commitment to provide equitable and culturally-competent awareness about breast cancer risks and education on available preventative measures. With HIF’s funding, #200 women will receive assistance and #50 of those referred will complete a mammogram screening. On May 21, CASA co-hosted the 2022 Social Justice Summit with No Studios. They presented on the panel entitled, “Public Health for Whom? Exploring the Challenges and Possibilities in Health Justice for the Immigrant Community.” Here is their story.

American Kidney Fund

In FY22, HIF invested $20,000 to support American Kidney Fund‘s safety-net grant program to support people in Montgomery County who experience kidney disease. Targeting the most highly impacted zip codes in the county, the safety-net grants will allow #80 members of our community access to life-sustaining medications, supplies, and medical appointments.   To learn more about this critical work in fighting kidney disease and other financial assistance programs, read AKF’s story here. This is the first investment that the American Kidney Fund has received from HIF. Click here to view the June 2022 press release highlighting this partnership.  

Maryland Foundation of Dentistry – Donated Dental Services

In FY22, HIF invested $8,000 to support Maryland Foundation of Dentistry‘s (MFD) Donated Dental Services. While MFD is a state-wide nonprofit, HIF’s investment focuses on serving those residing in Montgomery County. This award will help the MFD facilitate free dental care, courtesy of dentists and dental professionals who donate their time and supplies, to improve oral health and maintain dental function for #80 eligible Montgomery County residents with intellectual, physical, or developmental disabilities who are unable to pay for their dental care who will be brought up to a good standard of dental care. To read more about MFD’s award and their work, click here.

NAMI Montgomery County

In Fy22, HIF invested $40,000 in support of NAMI Montgomery County’s free, peer-led programs for caregivers of someone living with mental illness and those experiencing mental illness. The goal of the programming is to support more than #760 community members. Programming will include NAMI Family Support Group, Family-to-Family, NAMI Basics, and NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group. To learn more about NAMI’s programs or how to volunteer, visit their website. To read more about HIF’s investment, view NAMI’s press release.

American Red Cross Serving Montgomery, Howard, and Frederick Counties

In Fy22, HIF invested $12,230 to increase three-fold the number of Black blood donors in Montgomery County by 2025 to allow more more potential matches for sickle cell disease and meet more diverse blood needs. According to the grant with American Red Cross, “Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most common genetic blood disorder in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that in the U.S. about 1 in every 365 Black babies are born with sickle cell disease and about 1 in 13 Black babies are born with the sickle cell trait. SCD affects over 100,000 Americans and an estimated 500+ people here in Montgomery County.”

The goal of the HIF investment with American Red Cross is to see a twenty percent increase in the number of first-time Black blood donors from #468 to #562 through targeted recruitment, partnerships, and outreach campaigns.

To view a recent story of a Sickle Cell Warrior, click here.


For the last three grant cycles, HIF has invested $55,000 in CaringMatters’ ‘The Whole You’ program.  HIF was able to pilot this project as a seed investor during the FY20 Capacity Building cycle. This program is delivered in partnership with the Adventist Healthcare Shady Grove Adventist Aquilino Cancer Center.  Through the work of a Community Resource Specialist, the goal of the program is to create a system that interconnects medical and non-medical sectors so that patients can more easily access essential resources to address their medical, social, emotional and practical life needs.  To learn more about this essential work and HIF’s investment in this program, please take a few minutes to view the CaringMatter’s video sharing a client story.  

The Universities at Shady Grove

For seven years, HIF has worked to develop a comprehensive Healthcare Workforce Education Pipeline in partnership with The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) and Montgomery College. In July 2021, HIF invested $1M to initiate the second five-year project to provide scholarships to eligible students studying Nursing, Public Health, and Behavioral Health/Social Work at their respective schools.  During the Foundation’s FY22 Capacity Building cycle, UMBC at USG brought forth an idea to allow for an expansion of the healthcare pipeline for social work students pursuing a Masters of Social Work (MSW).  As a community partner, HIF understands the critical need in our community to have high-quality clinically-licensed social workers available.  Through our capacity cycle, HIF invested $36,000 in USG to support #5 Bachelor of Arts Social Work graduates who want to obtain their MSW at USG.  To view the full story and learn more about the scholars, click here.   To learn more about one of the HIF scholars receiving their Masters of Social Work, view the video produced by USG.


Our Minds Matter

To respond to the growing mental health needs of our youth, through our FY22 Capacity cycle, HIF invested $25,000 with Our Minds Matter, a DC Metro based non-profit addressing the suicide rate among teenagers.  Our Minds Matter is working to end teenage suicide by encouraging help-seeking behaviors and healthy coping strategies through student-led club models.  HIF’s investment in this work will assist Our Minds Matter in their efforts to facilitate their peer-led work in #22 Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in the 2022-2023 school year.  In October 2022, Our Minds Matter co-facilitated a live online forum with MCPS, “Waymaking Special: Student Mental Health Forum,” as a part of Mental Health Awareness Week.  To view the recorded forum, click here

WUMCO Help, Inc. (Western Upper Montgomery County)

In 2018, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health, with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), launched the Uneven Opportunities report.  Through this report, HIF learned that the Poolesville area had one of the lowest life expectancies in Montgomery County.  Located in the beautiful and resourceful Agricultural Reserve, health and wellness services are few and far between and transportation to get to quality and comprehensive services adds another impossible layer to the quagmire.  Prior to the FY22 Capacity Building cycle, HIF was approached by the team at WUMCO Help, a program designed to assist with food, financial, and emergency support to talk through ways to increase access to comprehensive health services in this part of the county.  Through this cycle, HIF was able to invest $40,000 to serve #80 community members with access to services.  Since inception, WUMCO Help has brought the community’s first-ever health clinic and education fair to Poolesville where health screenings were provided, COVID and flu immunizations were offered, and medical home resources were available.  We trust this is only the beginning.  To learn more about their work, please take a few minutes to view their video highlighting their programming! 

Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E)

The need for clinically trained mental health professionals is dire.  In 2022, C.A.S.E came to HIF with a plan to support current students working towards their Masters of Social Work through a clinical rotation at their agency.  C.A.S.E provides mental health services for families and children in the foster and adoption community.  With a funding investment from HIF, C.A.S.E is able to offer stipends for #2 students studying clinical social work through The University of Maryland School of Social Work program.  The students are working directly with families and children through 2022 and into 2023 as they finish their program.  Congratulations to the students! To highlight the work, the team at C.A.S.E have developed a story including interviews with both students.  Click here to view the work

American Kidney Fund

“In 1971, a small group of neighbors came together to help a friend struggling with kidney disease. In that first year, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) saved the lives of 79 people with kidney failure. But these friends quickly realized they had the power to do so much more. A mission was born and has been at the heart of our activities every day since.”  To aid in this work, HIF was able to invest $20,000 in the American Kidney Fund (AKF), based in Montgomery County, to provide life-saving safety-net assistance to those experiencing kidney disease.  Targeting the most highly impacted zip codes in the county, AKF will provide #80 community members with financial assistance to support their essential medical care needs.  To learn more about this critical work in fighting kidney disease, read AKF’s story here.


Through the FY22 Capacity Building cycle, Ayuda was awarded $40,000 to support #75 members of our community who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault.  Through this critical programming, Ayuda will provide wraparound behavioral health supports that include therapeutic sessions, care coordination, and group support.  Ayuda states, “By avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach, as language, education, and levels of U.S. cultural knowledge can vary between individuals, Ayuda tailors our services to best fit our clients’ individual needs, situations, and goals. Ayuda’s Trauma-Informed Behavioral Health and Wellness Program, which includes therapeutic case management and group behavioral health services, have been vital to our clients living in Montgomery County during these times.” To best tell the story of their work, Ayuda has created a video detailing a “Journey to Safety.”  To view their entire story, including background on Ayuda serving our region, click here.

Community Bridges

Community Bridges, celebrating 25 years this year, empowers girls from diverse backgrounds to become exceptional students, positive leaders, and healthy young women.  Their work follows the young women and their families from 4th grade through 12th grade!  In FY22, HIF invested $14,000 to Community Bridges for a first-time investment in their work.  The award will invest in #227 young women and will allow them to increase their academic self-efficacy, increase their awareness of inequities in their communities, and increase positive identity, social capital, and social skills.  To honor the work, Community Bridges is telling the story of two of their young women and alumna.  To view the video, click here.

Identity, Inc.

Launched in 2020, Encuentros, a non-clinical mental health initiative, was designed to provide community-based emotional support groups for the Latino community.  Trusted members of the community are trained as Community Mental Health Workers.  They provide opportunities and space for participants to talk through challenges and ways to overcome them!  For two grant cycles, HIF has invested $90,000 in this work through two modules of the program serving more than #500 members of our community.

In December 2022, Identity received national recognition and attention for this groundbreaking work!  Working with the University of Maryland School of Public Health, they presented their data at the annual American Evaluation Association Conference and the National Council of Family Relations meeting. To view the full story on the Identity, Inc. website, click here.

Manna Food Center

As a means of addressing food insecurity, HIF invested $40,000 in Manna Food Center to continue their development of their Lyft Ride Program in FY22.  The Lyft Ride Program was conceptualized in 2019 and launched in early 2020, just prior to the pandemic, with a $32,000 grant.  The Lyft Ride Program is making healthy food choices more accessible by providing ride-share rides to those who otherwise would not be able to get to the Manna Market choice pantry.  This program has served more than #300 members of the community with rides both to and from the pantry.  Rides are coordinated by members of the Manna Food Center team and information is efficiently relayed to the ride recipient.  To read more about this vital work address food insecurity, visit the Manna Food Center program spotlight page.

Care For Your Health (C4YH)

In an effort to continue to be responsive to the needs of the community, the team at Care For Your Health — a non-profit based in Montgomery County that is committed to providing place-based, culturally-appropriate primary care services — developed a program that brings necessary services into the homes of the aging.  Through the Foundation’s FY22 Capacity Cycle, C4YH received $40,000 to build their ‘Assistant in Place’ program that was designed to coordinate necessary and required services for homebound clients.  The Care Coordinator is charged with organizing appointments, assessing health, and determining additional community services that might be available.

Care For Your Health is a partner at the Sheppard Pratt Community Wellness Hub providing primary care services to Upcounty residents.  They also have a clinic in Silver Spring.  To learn more about Care For Your Health and their primary care work, visit their website. 

Thriving Germantown, a program of Sheppard Pratt

For more than seven years, HIF has invested in the conceptualization, development, and growth of Thriving Germantown, a program of Sheppard Pratt.  In October 2022 the dream of having a consolidated space for partners serving the Upcounty Region and families at Daly Elementary became a reality with the opening of the Sheppard Pratt Community Wellness Hub.  “The Community Wellness Hub concept was envisioned as part of the Thriving Germantown community-based strategy to address the nonprofit service desert in upper Montgomery County, which was experiencing the fastest population growth as well as increasing socioeconomic challenges. The Hub offers an opportunity for nonprofits to co-locate and provide comprehensive services onsite as well as connect the community with other vital resources,” the Sheppard Pratt press release reads.  To view the full release, click here. To learn more about the Community Wellness Hub, its location, and the co-located partners, click here

The UpCounty Hub

In the early and chaotic days of the pandemic in late-March 2020, leaders in the Upcounty Region came together to quickly conceptualize and initiate what is now The Upcounty Hub.  To begin, The Upcounty Hub was delivery critical services to the Germantown region through BlackRock Center for the Arts.  In October 2021, the consolidation hub had a new home in Germantown at the Upcounty Regional Services Center, located at 12900 Middlebrook Road.  Through the HIF Fy22 Capacity cycle, hub services received $30,000 to be able to increase their ability to provide more than 50,000 distributions of food and essential care items to 1,000 families in the Upcounty region.  In December 2022, The Upcounty Hub was highlighted in a The Washington Post article, “In a trailer park, boxes deliver fresh produce and a sense of belonging,” by Tara Bahrampour.


National Center for Children and Families – Black Physician and Healthcare Network

Knowing intimately the need to provide culturally-relevant healthcare and wellness services to Black residents of Montgomery County, the National Center for Children and Families (NCCF) initiated the Black Physician and Healthcare Network (BPHN). The BPHN is designed to provide a healthcare referral network to address the continuing health disparities impacting Black residents.   In the FY22 Capacity Building cycle, the Foundation invested $30,000 in the development and curation of a coalition of health and wellness organizations to increase the capacity of the BPHN. The development of the coalition of providers and organizations will increase access to both culturally-relevant health services and ongoing medical care.   In April 2023, NCCF and the BPHN received attention from My Montgomery Community Media as a means to advocate for their need for increased funding from the Montgomery County FY24 budget.  To view the article and learn more about their advocacy requests, click here.


Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA)

“The impact [Partners in Care] PIC has had on our residents is enormous.  The support means… we have a team of people that specialize in their fields and have a multitude of resources and experiences to offer our residents. We couldn’t be prouder of the increased services that we are able to offer to our residents,” Marcy Hunter, Executive Director with Springvale Terrace.  For seven grant cycles, HIF has invested nearly $240,000 into the Partners in Care (PIC) model at JSSA.  Starting with Homecrest House and growing the model to Springvale Terrace, the model is growing national attention for how to keep residents living safely in their homes – reducing falls, lowering emergency room visits, and increasing connectedness to vital health and wellness services.  To read more about the Partners in Care model, view the story compiled by the JSSA team.


NAMI Montgomery County MD

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and to recognize the work the work of their nonprofit, volunteers, and community that they serve, NAMI MC is highlighting their expanded programming.  “…in the past year alone, NAMI MC has expanded free, peer-led education sessions, increased free support groups, and trained additional volunteers to meet the increased demand for mental health support and resources.”  Through HIF’s Fy22 Capacity Building cycle, NAMI received an investment of $40,000 to strengthen the mental health support and programming for the Montgomery County community.  NAMI MC is saving lives through their programming and advocacy.  It is important to note that the support groups and peer-led education sessions are free to community members.  Programs are available to those experiencing mental illness or family members caring for those experiencing mental illness.

To read NAMI MC’s full story, click here.

American Diversity Group

“In 2022, the American Diversity Group (ADG) and The Mobile Dentist launched free oral healthcare services in Montgomery County. With the pandemic and sudden surge of the Afghan refugees and parolees, along with other immigrant groups, there was an urgent and immediate healthcare services in the community.”
Through the Capacity Building investment from the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) in April 2022, ADG was given the ability to better provide quality dental care services for #225 students and Afghan refugees. In fall 2022, dental services were also brought to #450 families in the historically underserved Poolesville community in the western part of the Upcounty region.”

To read more about American Diversity Group’s Heathy Smiles’ program, click here