Sentara celebrates partnership with the Network of Regional Advocacy (NORA)

Sentara Health and NORA collaborate to provide grants to small nonprofit and faith-based organizations

Sentara celebrates its newly forged partnership with the Network of Regional Advocacy (NORA), an initiative created to serve as a grant provider to faith-based and other charitable nonprofit organizations. Through this partnership, Sentara and NORA aim to address social determinants of health that affect historically marginalized and minoritized communities in South Hampton Roads.

The partnership between Sentara and NORA will primarily focus on providing grant funding to organizations working on issues such as food insecurity, healthcare accessibility, housing inequity, financial literacy, workforce development, small business development, and other inequities faced by low-income households and Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) individuals. These grants are targeted toward organizations that have historically faced barriers in accessing funding due to lack of knowledge, limited access, or structural obstacles. Sentara and NORA are committed to breaking down these barriers.

The partnership represents a significant step forward in addressing the pressing needs of vulnerable populations in the South Hampton Roads area. By combining resources, expertise, and community engagement, both organizations aim to make a lasting impact and improve the quality of life for those in need.

NORA is uniquely positioned to identify the organizations making positive contributions in the community. With Sentara’s financial backing, these organizations continue to grow and expand their services to the individuals in South Hampton Roads that need it most.

“At Sentara, we know local partnerships are essential in helping us to deliver on our mission to improve health every day – and to solve the most challenging problems facing the communities we serve,” said Dennis Matheis, president and chief executive officer for Sentara. “The COVID pandemic became an impetus to deepen our current local partnerships and establish new programs and partnerships, such as the one we’re celebrating today with NORA.”

The formation of NORA comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the inherent inequities faced by members of traditionally underserved communities. Chronic diseases, such as hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, disproportionately impact these communities, and COVID-19 only further exacerbated the problem.

Sentara, in collaboration with community leaders, initiated conversations to address the health challenges faced by the Black community, leading to the birth of NORA. Though NORA has only recently been established, NORA’s members have a long history of making significant and lasting contributions to the community.

They have worked alongside pharmacies, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), the Urban League, Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), and other organizations to facilitate COVID testing and vaccination efforts. NORA members opened their church doors to administer vaccines, providing a safe space for community members. This act not only removed access barriers but also fostered trust between the community and healthcare institutions. So far, tens of thousands of individuals have benefited from their combined efforts.

In addition to their involvement in COVID-19 response efforts, NORA members actively engage in providing essential resources such as transportation, food, utilities and rent assistance, housing, counseling services, and advocacy in the court system, social services, education, and law enforcement.

“Our local leaders know their congregations and their communities,” said Dr. Jordan Asher, executive vice president and chief physician executive for Sentara. “They know their hearts, hopes, and hindrances, and by us working directly with you, we can only do great things.”