(Washington, DC) Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), announced the Helping Our People Endure (HOPE) initiative, which intends to invest $92 million in the life sciences, to catalyze health innovation and address disparities in the District of Columbia. The participants will be part of the District of Columbia’s application to the US Department of Treasury’s Capital Project Fund.
“COVID-19 illuminated longstanding health disparities in our community, but we are fortunate to have an opportunity to make bold investments with key partners and with the support of the federal government,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Through the HOPE Initiative, each partner will bring a unique approach to helping to end health disparities by creating new lab space or technology advancements and new services in the District of Columbia.”
Working with several institutional partners, the District will apply to the US Treasury Capital Project Fund, which provides funding to carry out capital projects that address challenges laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensures that all communities have access to the high-quality, modern infrastructure needed to access critical services.
“The HOPE Initiative is part of the investments in technology and job creation that will be critical to the District’s equitable comeback and growth,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, John Falcicchio. “Through the darkest days of the pandemic, we trusted science and innovation to get us through it all, and now as we emerge from it, we will turn to science and innovation to overcome disparities that have been present for far too long.”
The capital projects that will be part of the HOPE initiative include:
- Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus, Phase II: Children’s National seeks to initiate phase II construction of a multi-purpose community facility designed to enable work, education, and health monitoring, as well as establish a pediatric-centered innovation hub. This builds on the success of the lab space and JLabs already open on the campus of Walter Reed in Northwest DC.
- Whitman-Walker at St. Elizabeths: Whitman-Walker will open a new health care facility at the St. Elizabeths East Campus, with the aim of significantly improving access to care for DC residents in Ward 8. This funding will allow Whitman-Walker to add research functions to their new headquarters.
- National Research Center for Health Disparities at Howard University: Through this new center, Howard University and its partners are aiming to attract pharmaceutical companies and biomedical research organizations that are focused on treating chronic illnesses, especially those that affect communities of color. The research center’s location, proximate to the Howard University College of Medicine, will allow private sector companies to collaborate with Howard University faculty on research and development of innovative solutions, including new drugs and cutting-edge therapies.
- George Washington University (GWU) Telehealth Innovation: GWU seeks to deliver a high-performance telehealth infrastructure and digital health innovation center to provide care solutions to address health disparities in impacted communities in DC. This project will include a presence in the new Innovation District and East of the River.
“The Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus supports children and families in the District and globally,” said Dr. Kurt Newman, Chief Executive Officer of Children’s National Hospital. “The campus extends access to primary and specialty care, creates space for pediatric health discoveries, and allows for job creation and community investment in our city. This is the one and only innovation district focused on children, creating the foundation for lifelong health and wellness. We are so appreciative of the Mayor’s leadership and for our partners in helping us realize this vision.”
“Whitman-Walker is committed to being part of the District's solution to eradicate health disparities for residents in Wards 7 and 8. Our new Max Robinson Center will be a modern and welcoming health care facility and state of the art research hub set to open in 2023,” said Naseema Shafi, Chief Executive Officer, Whitman-Walker Health and Ryan Moran, Chief Executive Officer, Whitman-Walker Health System. “The new site will provide necessary access to care, prevention, and ensure more capacity for community-based research that ensures groundbreaking scientific discoveries. We are honored to expand our work in Southeast and look forward to removing every barrier to care access for residents all over the District of Columbia.”
“Howard University has played a significant role in training researchers and practitioners equipped to address some of the world's most pressing obstacles, especially those impacting communities of color,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick. “The National Research Center for Health Disparities at Howard University will foster collaboration between Howard University faculty and private sector companies who will work together on the research and development of innovative solutions, including new drugs and cutting-edge therapies. Having this center located on Howard University's campus will allow us to not only drive impact nationally, but also for communities in DC, and in the region.”
“With this initiative, GW has the opportunity to expand its efforts to foster the health and well-being of the District’s citizens,” said Mark S. Wrighton, president of the George Washington University and Barbara Lee Bass, MD, Vice President for Health Affairs, Dean of the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, The George Washington University, CEO of the GW Medical Faculty Associates. “Creating a new network of telehealth technologies will provide a convenient and accessible home- or neighborhood-based pathway for DC residents to access care more easily. These tools, coupled with our strategic partnerships within the city, particularly in Ward 7 and Ward 8 at the Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center, will bolster GW's ability to deliver high-quality, equitable health care to all.”
In addition to the investments in life sciences and health innovation, the District’s application will include investments in broadband infrastructure to ensure equitable access for residents in all eight wards of the District. More details of that initiative will be announced in the weeks ahead.
Mayor Bowser announced the HOPE Initiative at the Washington, DC Economic Partnership’s Annual Meeting, where she highlighted the District of Columbia’s efforts on economic relief, recovery, and growth. The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development has created obviouslyDC.com to catalog all of the District of Columbia’s business support and grant programs.