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Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity Awards $8.1 Million to 40 Organizations


Health Equity

Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii Midwife Pennie Bumrungsiri takes a patient's blood pressure in a new mobile van. The organization will be expanding care services to families and newborns with support from the Fund for Health Equity. (Photo courtesy of Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii)

Direct Relief today announced $8.1 million in grants from its Fund for Health Equity to 40 organizations in 20 U.S. states, adding to the $1.8 million it disbursed to 10 organizations earlier this month with funding from the AbbVie Foundation. 

The sharply disproportionate effects of Covid-19 continue to reflect historic inequities in access to health services within the U.S. Recognizing this fact, Direct Relief, through its broad-based and ongoing Covid-19 response efforts, launched The Fund for Health Equity last year. 

Seeded with donations from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott and others, The Fund for Health Equity supports nonprofit community health centers, free and charitable clinics, and other organizations addressing the underlying issues that Covid-19’s disparate effects have once again highlighted. 

The 40 awardees included in today’s announcement received funding for a wide range of initiatives, including efforts to diversify the healthcare workforce, serve people experiencing homelessness, sustain and restore Indigenous health practices, and reduce infant mortality rates that fall disproportionally along racial and ethnic lines. 

“We are pleased to bolster the indispensable work of these grassroots organizations striving to reduce disparities and increase equity among vulnerable populations,” 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. “With their deep ties and particular insights into the people and communities they serve, these groups are best suited and most acutely aware of what can make a difference. It’s a privilege to enable them to do more with philanthropic funding that is often difficult to secure within their communities.” 

The awardees were selected by the Fund for Health Equity’s Advisory Council: 

  • 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 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  

Awardees, by state, include:  


  • Alabama Statewide Area Health Education Center: Grant funding will support the organization’s experiential learning program for Alabama students in the health professions – nursing, pharmacy, social work, and others – preparing them for work in rural and underserved communities. 
  • A Promise to HELP: An organization whose work includes increasing vaccination rates among primarily Black patients in rural counties. 


  • Alaska Native Heritage Center: For women experiencing homelessness, addiction, food insecurity, or other social circumstances that affect their health, an initiative teaching traditional crafts and providing opportunities to sell their work. 
  • Alaska Native Birthworkers Community: A group of Alaska Native midwives, doulas, and other health professionals providing free health care, from preconception through postpartum, to women in their community, to reclaim Indigenous birth practices and provide culturally sensitive care. 
  • Alaska Pacific University: A new initiative designed to diversify the health care workforce in Alaska, focusing on recruiting and training Alaska Native individuals and rural Alaskans in nursing programs. 
  • First Alaskans Institute: The funding will support two Health Equity fellows, a summit, and a leadership program, all designed to identify health disparities, particularly as they affect Alaska Native individuals, and develop solutions. 


  • El Centro Hispano: Working with St. Bernard’s Healthcare, this program aims to reduce Latino infant mortality rates, improve health literacy for mothers, and increase awareness of health and disparities among Latino youth. 


  • Asian Health Services: An organization launching an innovation hub designed to advance virtual care and identify digital health tools that will support patients in overcoming circumstances that contribute to poor health outcomes. 
  • Cultiva la Salud: This nonprofit is focused on engaging Fresno County residents to actively promote their health by advocating for policy, system, and environmental improvements. 
  • Mexican American Opportunity Foundation: An organization connecting low-income Latino families to health and other services through promotoras, specialized health workers serving the community. 
  • San Ysidro Health: Serving a diverse population near the U.S./Mexico border, this health center will use the funding to upgrade its bilingual website, enhancing access to telehealth and non-medical services such as food distribution and refugee support. 
  • Self-Help for the Elderly: A program to train and provide bilingual home health aides to care for monolingual Chinese and other aging seniors. 
  • Wildflowers Institute: Funding will supportthe organization’s arts and culture program focused on documenting resiliency in communities, focusing on Asian, Indigenous, Chicano, and Latino groups. 


  • Commonsense Childbirth: To improve birth outcomes in at-risk populations, this nonprofit offers training and certification programs for health care professionals, including midwives, doulas, lactation educators, and community health workers. 
  • First Coast Black Nurses Association, Inc.: Funding will help the organization address food insecurity and perform health screenings of food recipients. 
  • Miami Rescue Mission Clinic: The funding will increase staff providing services to an unsheltered population and provide meals, beds, and school supplies for clients.   
  • Shepherd’s Hope: A free clinic pilot program designed to teach healthy living and cooking skills to Black and Latino populations experiencing health issues and food insecurity. 


  • Hispanic Health Coalition of Georgia, Inc: This new program will train and hire new promotoras to work among vulnerable populations to increase health care access to rural areas of Georgia.  
  • Tree of Life Healthcare: Focusing on primary care, sickle cell anemia, and orthopedic care, this volunteer-run clinic will use the funding to hire paid staff who can provide consistency and additional services. 


  • Consuelo Foundation: A new program designed to address health equity among Native Hawaiian populations living in Molokai, Hawaii and Oahu. 
  • Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii: This organization, which provides maternal and reproductive health care while connecting families with social services, plans to use the funding to support women and their families outside hospital settings with hands-on care before and after birth.  


  • Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition: An organization working to improve health in Hispanic communities through culturally appropriate, evidence-based health education programs and navigators who link patients to appropriate health or social services.  
  • Latino Policy Forum/Illinois Unidos: This new program will offer resources and training to promotoras as they work to increase vaccination rates in their communities. 
  • Trident Ministries International, Inc.: The funds will support food distribution, equipment for the after-school program, and supplies for the community garden.  


  • West Louisville Performing Arts Academy: A program providing year-round access to extracurricular learning opportunities for ages eight to 18 while addressing food insecurity, homelessness, and mental health issues in families. 


  • Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness: This tribal organization will use the funding to develop a summer internship program connecting college students to traditional healing and public health issues and support a new Center for Wabanaki Healing and Recovery. 


  • National Black Nurses Association: This program aims to educate elementary school students on the nursing profession with the long-term goal of increasing diversity among nurses. 
  • The 21 Collective: This Hmong-led pilot program will develop and implement a strategy to provide Hmong Americans with accurate information about Covid-19 and increase access to vaccines.  


  • Community Health and Social Service Center, Inc.: The funding will help enhance existing care, including medication therapy management for chronic diseases, to improve health outcomes in Black and Latino populations. 


  • Minnesota Community Care: This program provides racially concordant perinatal and postpartum care to African Americans and African Diaspora children and their families to improve childhood health outcomes. 


  • Alcorn State University Foundation: The Alcorn State University Foundation will use the funding to acquire a mobile medical unit and expand its health services to rural counties in Mississippi.   


  • Native Action: A tribal collaboration among eight Native American reservations, including an intergenerational trauma-informed cultural leadership program and teachings about traditional medicine. 

New Mexico 

  • Tewa Women United: This organization provides a culturally adapted curriculum for Tewa youth to learn about healthy sexuality, personal decision-making, and adult life skills. 

New York 

  • Charles B. Wang Community Health Center: A health center working to improve care for children with developmental disabilities in Chinese-speaking families.  
  • Comunilife: In response to a need among Latino teens in New York City, a program provides suicide prevention services for people with depression or other mental illnesses. 

North Carolina 

  • Winston-Salem State University: The funding will bolster an existing program that provides training to university students in social work, nursing, clinical laboratory services, and other disciplines while bringing medical care to underserved communities via a mobile clinic. 


  • Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Inc.: A nonprofit organization working to identify the urgent needs of Latino individuals and families and connect them with appropriate health and social services. 
  • Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity): Combining health education, food security, and housing stability efforts, this university collaborates to advance health equity in vulnerable Philadelphia communities. 


  • The Concilio: Funding will allow the organization to continue a promotora-led program to help families adopt healthy behaviors, including purchasing nutritious food. 
  • The Beacon of Downtown Houston: Focused on people experiencing homelessness, the Beacon provides hot meals, showers, and laundry to introduce programs focused on permanent housing. 

Direct Relief will announce additional grant awards this year.  

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