SPH part of $25M health effort to aid communities of color


The School of Public Health is collaborating with the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and American Cancer Society on a Bank of America-funded program to advance health outcomes for Black, Latino, Hispanic, Asian and Indigenous communities.

This $25 million, four-year initiative will initially launch in 11 cities: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Memphis, Tennessee; Philadelphia; San Antonio; St. Louis; and Washington, D.C.

The organizations will focus on three key areas in each community: education and capacity building for health systems, partners and patients; increasing access to health screenings and preventive care; and advocating for policies that ensure fair opportunities and resources with state and local leaders.

The initiative will specifically focus on the leading causes of death in communities of color — heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes — and improving health outcomes more broadly, including maternal health, mental wellness and nutrition.

To scale this work further, SPH faculty will measure progress and impact on health outcomes through robust evaluation as part of the initiative.

“Health equity is at the heart of everything we do in public health,” said SPH Dean DuBois Bowman. “We are grateful for this philanthropic gift and are excited to work alongside Bank of America and the nation’s leading health agencies to help identify ways to make a lasting impact on the health of communities across the country.”

Led by Minal Patel, associate professor of health behavior and health education, the team of researchers from SPH is developing key performance indicators for the overall initiative in close collaboration with the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and American Diabetes Association.

Broadly, these performance indicators will focus on measuring outcomes and progress of the initiative. Ultimately, the goal is to create long-term change and ensure this work will continue to benefit communities in the 11 cities well into the future.

Additionally, the team will document a set of best practices that can be used to help address health inequity in other communities beyond the initial 11 cities.

“A key part of our work in the field of public health research is evaluation,” Bowman said. “It is critical that we work in partnership with communities to establish and disseminate health-focused programs.

“In doing so, we must be able to determine measures of success, evaluate if we are hitting those markers, and adjust our approaches as needed to achieve our ultimate goals of improving health and equity. We must also document what we learn, both successes and challenges, to support wide-spread adoption.”

This effort builds on the school’s Public Health IDEAS initiative, launched in 2021, which fosters innovative interdisciplinary work with a direct impact on improving the health of communities.

“The School of Public Health has a long history of doing cross-site evaluation of community coalition-led initiatives aimed at improving diabetes and asthma care and management, and addressing the obesity epidemic through changes to food policy and the built environment. So, we are well-positioned to lead robust evaluation efforts,” Patel said.

“Because we are not the ones implementing interventions and programming in this partnership, we have the unique ability to offer an independent evaluation of how the work is going. This ensures the interventions will have a positive impact, be sustainable, and can be translated to other communities.”

The innovative collaboration is part of Bank of America’s commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity and builds on its longstanding work to invest in the communities it serves.

“Lack of access, education and advocacy for communities of color have only been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said D. Steve Boland, Bank of America chief administrative officer. “Addressing barriers to health care is a critical step in helping communities move forward and realize true economic mobility.”

In addition to Patel, the team involved in the initiative includes SPH faculty members Justin Colacino, Cindy Leung, Trivellore Raghunathan, Shawna Smith and Walter Dempsey.


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