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Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity Awards $1.8 Million to 10 Healthcare Organizations

Grants were provided with support from the AbbVie Foundation, as part of its commitment to support underserved Black and other communities across the United States.


Health Equity

Dr. Nathan Lin (right), a medical resident, prepares a Covid-19 vaccine for a street medicine patient. Lin works with the Night Ministry, which provides health care and supportive services to Chicago’s unsheltered homeless population. The organization received financial support from the Fund for Health Equity to expand its efforts. (Courtesy photo)

Direct Relief today announced the first round of grants awarded from its recently established Fund for Health Equity.

“This initial round of $1.8 million in grants from the AbbVie Foundation and Direct Relief recognizes organizations that are in the trenches every day supporting their communities which are impacted the most in terms of health disparities,” said Dr. Byron Scott, MD, MBA, Co-Chair of the Fund for Health Equity and Board Director of Direct Relief and Chair of its Medical Advisory Council. “I am humbled that both AbbVie and Direct Relief can help these organizations with their goals of improving health and wellness, including eliminating health inequities.”

Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity mobilizes financial resources for community health centers, free and charitable clinics, and other nonprofit organizations focused on non-clinical interventions that affect a person’s health – commonly known as the social determinants of health, these factors include a person’s physical, social, political, cultural, and economic environments.

The AbbVie Foundation seeded the fund with a $10 million donation.

“We are proud to support Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity and these community-focused organizations that will lead the way in improving care in many communities,” said Laura Schumacher, Vice Chairman, External Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, AbbVie. “This is just the first step as the Fund continues to identify more organizations across the country that are addressing health disparities through evidence-based programs and interventions.”

The first round of funding will support the following ten health centers’ and free and charitable clinics’ projects, including workforce diversification, reducing health disparities, and establishing or expanding innovative models of care:

• Community of Hope – Washington, DC: Grant funding will support a new professional training initiative to enhance patient services and health outcomes in Ward 8, a medically underserved, majority Black population that faces some of the highest rates of chronic disease in the DC region.

• Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center – North Carolina: The grant will fund a new mobile clinic operation, which will serve public housing and mobile park residents in Black communities throughout rural North Carolina. The mobile unit will also deploy to farms to care for migrant workers.

• Institute for Family Health – New York: The grant will support Training for Change, a five-month workforce development project to recruit, train, and employ a first cohort of five community health professionals whose lived experience represent those of the health clinic’s patient population (45% Black; 36% Latinx). The project takes place at the Family Health Center of Harlem, the largest of the Institute’s NYC centers, which serves the high-need communities of East and Central Harlem and the South Bronx.

• MLK Health Center & Pharmacy – Louisiana: The grant will fund the operations of the rural clinic, which serves a patient population that is 91% Black in northwestern Louisiana, where uninsured and underinsured patients have severely limited access to health care.

• Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services – Mississippi: Funding will support an initiative to address health disparities affecting the clinic’s patient population (90% African American) across six rural Mississippi counties. It will do this by convening and training community stakeholders to identify and address social determinants of health, hiring staff to increase vaccination rates, providing wellness exams and screenings, and engaging teenagers around physical and mental health through school-based clinics.

• Eskenazi Health – Indiana: The grant will fund a community health worker to care for the health centers’ patients experiencing homelessness, many of whom are Black. The program’s primary goal is to address social determinants of health and reduce health disparities in minority and homeless populations by offering enhanced cardiovascular and diabetes services.

• Good Samaritan Health Center – Georgia: The grant will support the health centers’ efforts to care for its patient population, compromised primarily of African American and Hispanic/Latinx patients, which include food access programs, case management, and health care navigation services, and a high school internship initiative aimed at diversifying the health care workforce.

• Health Brigade – Virginia: The grant will help sustain general operations at Health Brigade, which is Virginia’s oldest free and charitable clinic and primarily serves patients who identify as persons of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Specifically, the grant will fund several essential staff positions as the organization scales its services to care for a growing population of patients, including people on Medicaid.

• Delaware Valley Community Health, Inc. – Pennsylvania: The grant will support a leadership program co-hosted by the Philadelphia Youth Basketball that exposes Philadelphia youth from majority Black communities to various aspects of health centers’ operations. The program will also offer a stipend to help students with college expenses.

• The Night Ministry – Illinois: The grant will provide operating support for a health outreach bus and a street medicine team that will extend access to medical care, healthy food, hygiene supplies, and case management services to Chicago neighborhoods with high concentrations of homelessness and poverty.

The awardees were selected by the Fund for Health Equity’s Advisory Council, which includes the following members:

• Co-Chair Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA, 18th U.S. Surgeon General of the United States, Founder Bayou Clinic, Inc.

• Co-Chair Byron Scott, MD, MBA, Board Director of Direct Relief and Chair of its Medical Advisory Council

• Martha Dawson, DNP, MSN, RN, FACHE, President and CEO President of the National Black Nurses Association, Associate Professor the University of Alabama at Birmingham

• Jane Delgado, Ph.D., MS, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health

• Gail Small, JD, Head Chief Woman, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe

Direct Relief will announce additional grant awards this year.

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