VNA Foundation’s Response to the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic

Our world has changed dramatically in recent months, and VNA grantees that serve our most vulnerable communities have experienced tremendous hardship. During this difficult time we’ve been doing our best to listen, learn and help.

Emergency Grants
VNA responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing emergency funding. To date $100,000 in emergency grants have been provided, to recipients including:

  • Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics
  • Enlace Chicago
  • Mujeres Latinas en Acción

In addition to this direct grantmaking, we were pleased to be able to leverage an additional $120,000 from foundation colleagues to benefit Illinois’ free and charitable clinics. We also participated in several discussions around other collaborative funding opportunities.

The Only Change to Future Grantmaking: More Grants
We have always provided grants for general operating support—which allows agencies to direct dollars wherever they see fit—as well as basic needs for established programs. Going forward, we anticipate some of the greatest need will be for these types of funding and we look forward to continuing to include them in our grantmaking.

In addition, despite the economic uncertainties brought on by unstable investment markets and the unpredictable course of the pandemic, we believe that this is not a time for foundations to pull back their support. For this reason, we are proud to announce an 8% increase in our grantmaking for FY 21.

Throughout this challenging time and beyond, we will stay true to our core mission: to support home- and community-based health services for the medically underserved in the Chicago metropolitan area.

VNA Foundation Awards Timely Grant to Pilot Telehealth Services at Illinois Free Clinics

Chicago, IL – April 9, 2020.

Virtual services that respond to the COVID-19 crisis are launching everywhere. But in the community-based healthcare sector, particularly among providers that care for people who are underserved, virtual services such as telehealth are scarce. The VNA Foundation knows from its years of funding Metro Chicago’s free and charitable clinics that access to specialty health care, in particular, is difficult for patients who rely on community-based clinics. In search of a potential solution, VNA contacted The MAVEN Project, a nonprofit that uses skilled volunteer specialist physicians to provide virtual consults, education and mentoring to community-based providers, to determine if The MAVEN Project’s telehealth services could be launched in Illinois. After careful review and with the assistance of the Illinois Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (IAFCC), VNA Foundation awarded a $60,000 grant to The MAVEN Project to pilot its suite of telehealth services with three Illinois free clinics.

The MAVEN Project (Medical Alumni Volunteer Expert Network) is dedicated to ensuring that every person has access to high-quality specialty care, regardless of location or means. To do this, a corps of experienced volunteer physicians are recruited and retained to work with community-based providers in delivering comprehensive care to uninsured and underinsured patients via telehealth. Thanks to the support of the VNA Foundation, The MAVEN Project is launching its first partnerships in the Midwest.  “We’re thrilled to be working with the VNA Foundation, IAFCC, and our new Chicago area clinic partners,” said MAVEN Project CEO Lisa Bard Levine, MD, MBA. “Now more than ever, we need to ensure everyone can access the care they need to be healthy, and that providers are supported with the resources and technology they need to keep themselves and their patients safe.”

A survey administered by The Illinois Association of Free & Charitable Clinics determined that, although some free clinics had pro bono relationships with specialists in their communities and others had specialists who volunteered at their clinics, several others had no access to specialty care whatsoever. After further assessing the need and capacity to launch telehealth services, three IAFCC member clinics were invited to participate in the pilot program with MAVEN: Family Health Partnership Clinic in McHenry County, Bolingbrook Christian Health Center serving DuPage and Will Counties, and the Chicago Women’s Health Center.

“We cannot think of a better time than now, in the midst of this serious health crisis impacting all of us, to help bring telehealth technology to our area’s free and charitable clinics,” said VNA Foundation Executive Director Rob DiLeonardi.  “And by partnering with The MAVEN Project, we can use that technology to bring to clinic doctors and nurses the kind of input from expert specialists that they frequently request—and just when they need it most.”

For more information contact Claudia Baier, Director Community Engagement/Senior Program Officer at VNA Foundation, 312-214-1521 or, or Meghan Guidry, Vice President/Communications & Donor Engagement at The MAVEN Project, 617-641-9743 x710 or

The VNA Foundation supports home- and community-based agencies in the metropolitan Chicago area that provide public health services to medically underserved populations. In FY19, VNA Foundation awarded $2.5m to 59 nonprofit agencies.


VNA Offers Critical Early Funding to Reduce Maternal Morbidity and Mortality in Chicago

After months of meeting with issue experts and convening peer funders to bring attention to Chicago’s unacceptable poor maternal health outcomes, VNA Foundation has awarded core funding to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality and support the health of women in Chicago.

The grant, an $85,000 award to AllianceChicago to provide key launch funding for the Chicago Collaborative for Maternal Health, represents VNA Foundation’s strong commitment to women and families and its interest in encouraging other Chicago funders to share in this commitment.

“We were proud to provide advocacy within Chicago’s health funding community, and thrilled to award funding to this innovative community program that will bring together providers, women and their families, and policymakers to help prevent the heartbreaking loss of a mother after childbirth,” said VNA Foundation’s Executive Director Rob DiLeonardi. “VNA hopes that our grant will help bring additional resources to the table and, together with our partners like AllianceChicago, significantly improve the health and well-being of women in the Chicago area.”

For more information on the Chicago Collaborative for Maternal Health contact Katy Walsh, AllianceChicago Director of Grants Management & Development at 312.274.0068 (o), 312.608.2450 (c) or

An Open Letter to the Chicago Region’s Nonprofit Community | COVID-19

March 17, 2020

Dear Partners and Friends,

As the Chicago region grapples with unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19, we are grateful for your ongoing work to provide essential public services, tackle inequities, and create communities where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

We can’t imagine a more difficult time for Chicago area nonprofits. Many vital programs are being disrupted at a time when people need them more, daily operations altered, and budgets stretched by increased demand for services and the cancellation of revenue-generating events – all in a context of tremendous and extraordinary uncertainty. The challenges are even greater for those providing direct services to people at the highest risk due to the virus itself and the economic impacts we are already seeing.

Like you, this community is at the heart of everything we care about. In these anxious times, we want to reaffirm our commitment to you and your work. Your priorities may be shifting as you determine how best to provide for communities, and the path to meet your original program goals may no longer be clear. While we know you remain deeply committed to continuing your work, we also realize that during this crisis it may not be realistic to meet the project goals you once expected to achieve. Please know, we understand and will prioritize flexibility regarding reporting.

In recognition of the challenges you are facing now and those that will be posed to our region in the days and weeks ahead, many of us have joined together and with others to contribute to a fund as one way to support those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund will provide flexible resources to community-based organizations across the Metropolitan Chicago region to supply essential aid to the individuals and households who are most impacted by the pandemic. Those resources currently include access to emergency food and basic supplies, rent and mortgage assistance and utility assistance. Learn more at

We will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 in our community by listening to you to understand your experience and the experiences of those you serve. We are heartened by the way organizations across our region are rising to this challenge and are committed to doing our part to help ensure this critical work continues.

Thank you for your leadership and partnership in helping our city weather this crisis.

Iris Krieg, Executive Director
Albert Pick, Jr. Fund

Joel M. Friedman, President
The Alvin H. Baum Family Fund

Helene D. Gayle, President and Chief Executive Officer
The Chicago Community Trust

Adam Levine, President
Circle of Service Foundation

Mary Pounder, Program Director
Comer Family Foundation

Greg DiDomenico, President and CEO
Community Memorial Foundation

Leslie Ramyk, Executive Director
Conant Family Foundation

Evan Hochberg, President
Crown Family Philanthropies

Arne Duncan, Managing Partner
Emerson Collective / Chicago CRED

Angelique Power, President
The Field Foundation

Rachel Garbow Monroe, President and CEO
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

Maria Socorro Pesqueira, President
Healthy Communities Foundation

Phyllis Glink, Executive Director
The Irving Harris Foundation

Janet Froetscher, President
JB and MK Pritzker Family Foundation

Lonnie Nasatir, President
Jewish United Fund

John Palfrey, President
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Ellen S. Alberding, President
The Joyce Foundation

Liz Kramer Lefkofsky, Executive Director
Lefkofsky Family Foundation

Craig Leva, President
Leva Family Foundation

Unmi Song, President
Lloyd A. Fry Foundation

Kelsey Malnati Howell, Executive Director
Marc and Jeanne Malnati Family Foundation

Allyson Park, President
Mars Wrigley Foundation

Gayla Brockman, President and CEO
Michael Reese Health Trust

Kim R. Van Horn, Managing Director
Paul M. Angell Family Foundation

Gillian Darlow, CEO
Polk Bros. Foundation

Charles Twichell, Executive Director
Prince Charitable Trusts

Julie Wilen, Executive Director
Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation
Pritzker Foundation

Cindy Moelis, President
Pritzker Traubert Foundation

David Hiller, President and CEO
Robert R. McCormick Foundation

Na’ilah Suad Nasir, President
Spencer Foundation

Patricia Ford, Executive Director
Steans Family Foundation

Sean Garrett, President and CEO
United Way of Metro Chicago

Robert N. DiLeonardi, Executive Director
VNA Foundation

Michelle Morales, President
Woods Fund Chicago

Chicago Innovation Award Winners

Streetlight Chicago
Chicago Innovation Award Winner in: 2019
Winner Category: Collaboration
Industries: Technology, Non-Profit

StreetLight Chicago (SLC), created by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless & Young Invincibles, acts as the “311” for housing-insecure youth and providers in Chicago. It is a trusted resource, seamlessly connecting users to the services young people need for their immediate and long-term health, safety, and housing needs. Prior to SLC’s creation, youth and service providers relied on static lists of resources which quickly became out of date as services changed. Providers also lacked a mechanism for communicating to youth when services changed, relying on clients hearing about service changes through word-of-mouth and social media posts. Too often, this resulted in young people finding out services had changed only after they showed up at a site hoping to receive help. We found from conversations with housing insecure youth that most had access to smartphones (though were unlikely to have data) and needed up-to-date information on the services that are available to young people who needed immediate support. SLC enables the nearly 16,000 unaccompanied young people facing housing insecurity in Chicago to quickly connect to providers who can put young people on a path to stability.

Learn more


Heartfelt thanks to Heartland Health Centers

Heartland Health Centers recognized VNA Foundation during its annual “From the Heart Gala.” In particular, HHC noted our dedication to community nursing, as well as our early support of its Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Program.

From left are Gwenn Rausch, CEO of Heartland Health Centers; honorees Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, Kathy Delaney, Director of the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program at Rush College of Nursing, and Nancy Scinto, VNA Foundation Board Chair; and far right is Heartland Health Center’s Governing Board Chair, Philip Dothard.

The 2019 Anne M. Davis Mobile Health Award

The Night Ministry received the 2019 Anne M. Davis Mobile Health Award and a $10,000 gift from the VNA Foundation for its outstanding work bringing free health care, supportive services and survival resources directly to Chicago’s homeless population through its innovative Street Medicine Program. The Anne M. Davis Mobile Health Award, named in honor of a longstanding VNA volunteer and board member, recognizes a Foundation grantee that uses mobile health services in a particularly innovative, effective and impactful way.

For more information

From left: David Wywialowski, TNM Director of Outreach & Health Ministry, Nancy Scinto, VNA Board Chair, and Paul W. Hamann, TNM President & CEO



From left: Paul W. Hamann, TNM President & CEO, Anne M. Davis, VNA Honorary Board Member, Stephan Koruba, Street Medicine Senior Nurse Practitioner, and TNM Director of Outreach & Health Ministry



From left: Paul W. Hamann, TNM President & CEO, Sophia Managuit, Street Medicine Outreach Professional, Stephan Koruba, Street Medicine Senior Nurse Practitioner, Syliva Hibbard, Street Medicine Case Manager, and David Wywialowski, TNM Director of Outreach & Health Ministry

Join the Public Health Funder Network at APHA 2019

The APHA Public Health Funder Network (PHFN), founded in 2013, is a community of grantmakers, donors, and APHA members who recognize philanthropy plays an important role in improving population health outcomes and the overall health of communities. Our goal is to promote a cross-sector approach to solving complex public health challenges – using philanthropy as a catalyst to drive change through innovative strategies and partnerships with local communities and stakeholders.

See what the PHFN has planned for the APHA Annual Meeting + Expo

Register today!

VNA honored at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless Justice Circle Reception

Robert N. DiLeonardi, VNA Foundation Executive Director (L) and Doug Schenkelberg, Executive Director, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, at the CCH 2019 Justice Circle Reception

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) sponsors its annual Justice Circle Reception each year to highlight the work of CCH’s Law Project, and to honor key partners in its work. This year, CCH honored VNA Foundation for, “outstanding commitment to young people experiencing homelessness and … ongoing contribution to StreetLight Chicago.

When accepting the award for VNA, Rob DiLeonardi, Executive Director, stated that, “Grantmaking is only effective when it’s done in concert with a strong and knowledgeable partner, and that’s especially true for major undertakings. Streetlight Chicago, our smartphone app for teens and young adults impacted by housing insecurity, is one of our most successful Special Initiatives, thanks in large part to CCH’s invaluable input and leadership that helped inform the project through every step of its development and launch.”