Health Equity

Issues & Solutions

Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity was created to increase access to health care and improve health outcomes for marginalized communities.

Todderick “TK” King LVN (right) performs blood work with a patient in a temporary examination room at TAN Healthcare’s Mobile Clinic setup at Sacred Heart Church in Raywood, TX. TAN Healthcare, a Federally Qualified Health Center(FQHC) located in Beaumont and Orange, Texas, provides primary and preventive care in a consistent and affordable manner, improving the health of our communities. Their mobile clinic transport van, made possible by Direct Relief, services surrounding communities; bringing access to health services to those in rural areas.

In Brief

Through the Fund for Health Equity, Direct Relief is funding on-the-ground organizations addressing health inequities.

These groups have deep ties in the communities they serve and are working to diversify the health care workforce, eliminate health disparities, and employ technology to make health care more accessible and reliable to their patients.

Factors such as education, employment, income, family social support, community safety, air, water quality, housing, transit, and behaviors all contribute to poor health outcomes and will be addressed by groups receiving funding.

Addressing Inequities in Health

Marginalized communities have long experienced worse health outcomes and are less likely to receive the medical care they need. That’s true of people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, people experiencing homelessness, and others as well.

These striking injustices are one of the modern-day effects of a long history of discriminatory practices, policies, and traditions.

Access to health care is just a single aspect of a person’s health. Race and ethnicity, housing situation, employment status, living environment, and spoken language, among other interrelated factors, will all play significant roles in an individual’s health outcomes.

The Fund for Health Equity

Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity provides financial support to community health centers, free and charitable clinics, educational institutions and other community-based organizations fighting the inequities that further health disparities.

The Fund for Health Equity supports organizations making measurable progress in the following areas:

1. Diversifying the workforce

Direct Relief’s goal is to support people from all backgrounds as they undergo the certification and training to become nurses, community health workers, health navigators, and other essential health care workers and make these career paths more accessible to diverse groups of people.

2. Eliminating health disparities

A wide range of factors, from the living environment to financial situation, will play a role in a person’s health outcomes. Direct Relief funds organizations working to reduce these disparities while improving population health, preventing disease, and responding to behavioral health and substance abuse challenges.

3. Supporting digital health

Many organizations use new technology – including telehealth platforms, mobile medical units, and renewable energy – to expand access and deliver better patient care. Direct Relief’s aim is to support them in these innovative efforts, helping them respond to the needs of their communities.

Applications to the Fund for Health Equity are by invitation only.

In 2021, Direct Relief, through its Fund for Equity, has granted more than $10 million to 50 organizations across the U.S.

2021 Grantees


  • 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: 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. 


  • Good Samaritan Health Center: The grant will support the health centers’ efforts to care for its patient population, 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.
  • 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. 
  • The Night Ministry: 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.
  • Trident Ministries International: The funds will support food distribution, equipment for the after-school program, and supplies for the community garden.  


  • Eskenazi Health: 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.


  • 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. 


  • MLK Health Center & Pharmacy: 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.


  • 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: 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.


  • Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services: Funding will support an initiative to address health disparities across six rural Mississippi countie 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.
  • 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. 
  • Institute for Family Health: 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 

North Carolina 

  • Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center: 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.
  • 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: A nonprofit organization working to identify the urgent needs of Latino individuals and families and connect them with appropriate health and social services. 
  • Delaware Valley Community Health: 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.
  • 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. 


  • Health Brigade: 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.

Washington, DC

  • Community of Hope: 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.

Health Equity Fund

Donations to the Health Equity Fund will support meaningful change to increase access to healthcare for people throughout the U.S., regardless of race, ethnicity, location, or income.