WombWork Productions and Virtues Matter win Inaugural Johns Hopkins University Innovation Grant for Community Safety

Jul 13, 2021


Baltimore, MD - Wombwork Productions and Virtues Matter have been awarded a three-year grant for the Baltimore ‘Existential Determinants of Health’ (EDOH) Initiative, a community-based project based on virtues. Baltimore EDOH provides forums for creative expression that promote healing, individual and collective empowerment, and neighborhood improvement.

Johns Hopkins University created the JHU Innovation Fund for Community Safety to support innovative, community-led programs designed to curb violence. The fund builds on the university’s commitment to help to reduce violent crime in Baltimore.

Baltimore EDOH aims to provide residents with strategies for mitigating the consistent presence of violence, addiction and isolation in historically divested neighborhoods. This will be accomplished through facilitated exercises such as storytelling, guided performing arts and financial coaching, as well as helping cohorts of local residents build holistic health and well-being solutions around virtues-oriented language for acknowledgement, appreciation, respect, understanding, and love.

“This grant is an opportunity to demonstrate that people who need help can and should help guide their own healing, and that sustainable efforts to thoroughly address health disparities must reflect both the practical and ethereal needs that humanity requires,” said David Fakunle, Executive Director of WombWork Productions, Inc.

A prominent feature of EDOH is its utilization of The 5 Strategies of the Virtues ProjectTM, an initiative started in 1991 as a response to random acts of violence and suicide in youth from ages 14 to 25. The Virtues Project is now a global initiative that encourages everyone to know their inherent worth and practice virtues in everyday life.

Dara Feldman, co-founder of Virtues Matter, adds "The Virtues Project is a strength based approach, honoring the inherent worth of all humanity. The 5 Strategies of The Virtues Project empowers individuals and communities through transformative language, healing centered engagement and culturally respectful, restorative practices."

Arjun Chanmugam, Chair of Emergency Medicine at the JH Bayview Medical Center, who represents the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as the EDOH partner, seeks to explore transformational methods that increase accessibility for behavioral health, addiction services and develop creative ways of improving longitudinal health care relationships in under resourced communities including those experiencing poverty, violence or addiction.

The World Trade Center Institute, an EDOH partner, will help with the annual recruitment and training of local servant-leaders to participate in mentorship activities and assist in the recruitment of new annual cohorts.