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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  January 29, 2009
CONTACT:  Bobbie Fisher, Chief Communications Officer, 757.889.9107

Public Broadcaster one of twenty-one recipients awarded grants from a new initiative

NORFOLK:  WHRO, Hampton Roads’ public broadcaster, is one of twenty-one recipients from across the nation recently awarded grants from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  The two-year grant is part of a new multimillion-dollar initiative from the prestigious philanthropy and is the first grant WHRO has received from the Foundation.  WHRO’s Center for Regional Citizenship will apply the funds to on-going efforts to impact the issue of childhood obesity in Hampton Roads and specifically the Western Tidewater area.
    The grant calls for working within diverse faith communities to advance community policies or environmental changes that aim to increase access to healthy foods and safe places to play, with an emphasis on reaching those children who are at the highest risk for obesity.  The initiative will be implemented through a partnership between the WHRO Center for Regional Citizenship and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.  The Interfaith Center is a nonpartisan coalition of faith communities working to create change through education and advocacy.  Established in 1982, The Interfaith Center is the only statewide, nonpartisan, interfaith partnership focused on social policy in Virginia, and only the second such organization doing this unique work in the country.
    Faith communities have a rich history of working together for social change. Faith-based coalitions have been at the forefront of local and state efforts on social issues such as homelessness, hunger and poverty.  Today there is emerging energy among faith communities to advocate for improved food, nutrition and environmental policies.
    Part of WHRO’s Community Engagement Department, the Center for Regional Citizenship has focused outreach efforts in the Western Tidewater area for the past year, following the debut of its documentary, SURVIVING ABUNDANCE: Overweight Kids in Crisis.  A grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation has enabled the Center to work with early childhood education providers and elementary schools to encourage policy and practice changes that support more healthy choices for children.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant allows the Center to build upon this work and involve the broader Western Tidewater.  Eventually materials and best practices will be made available region wide.
    The WHRO documentary, SURVIVING ABUNDANCE: Overweight Kids in Crisis, is available on demand on the WHRO website, or at

About WHRO
WHRO is a regional media company that promotes education, culture and citizenship to the citizens of Hampton Roads, Virginia through a variety of services.  Every day, thousands of viewers and listeners tune in to broadcast programming on WHRO’s four public television and seven public radio stations.  Since its founding more than 45 years ago to support education, WHRO has employed creativity and technology to serve its mission to enrich audiences through content that educates, entertains and promotes understanding. Owned by 18 local school divisions, WHRO delivers educational and new media services to 286,000 students and 25,000 educators per month as well.

About The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is Virginia’s oldest faith-based advocacy group.  Their vision is a world where people of all faiths cooperate to create compassionate communities that are just, peaceful, equitable and sustainable.  Their stated mission is to speak for and with the vulnerable, working through partnerships with other non-profit organizations.  The Center has several successful on-going initiatives including the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, a nonprofit think tank focused on providing independent research, analysis and public education on budget and tax issues; and A More Perfect Union which aids Virginians of all faiths in the free expression of religious traditions without fear of discrimination or reprisal.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.
For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit

About the Obici Healthcare Foundation
The Obici Healthcare Foundation is a new private Foundation established in 2006 with assets established through the generosity of Amedeo Obici and the merger of the Obici Health System and Sentara Healthcare.  The Foundation is governed by an independent board of citizens living in Suffolk and in surrounding communities in the previous service area of the Louise Obici Memorial Hospital.