While notable advances have taken place in medical care, significant health inequities persist for communities of color and other vulnerable populations. Much of the disparities in health outcomes are connected to the social and economic conditions in which people live. Often referred to as the ‘Social Determinants of Health,’ factors including employment, education, financial stability, transportation access, affordable housing, systemic racism and exposure to violence all have a significant impact on the health of individuals and communities.
Through the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Health Equity Grant Program, we are supporting projects utilizing local and innovative approaches to strengthen the conditions that support improved health outcomes for residents of our five priority neighborhoods of Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill and Roxbury.
Our commitment to this work is built upon the following principles:
There are valuable community-led efforts taking place in our five priority communities to support health equity, and grant support can enable these efforts to extend their reach and increase their impact.
A cornerstone of effective health equity practice is the active participation of community members and building upon the assets of a community when developing and implementing initiatives.
Advancing racial justice and equity are fundamental to addressing the health inequities experienced by communities of color.
We worked collaboratively with our planning partners, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston Alliance for Community Health, interested community members, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to prioritize community health needs identified in its last community health needs assessment for DoN funding.
The process was informed by the BWH Community Health Needs Assessment, as well as an interactive online community engagement tool, What Matters for Health. The tool was developed by Institute for Community Health and the Engagement Lab at Emerson College to enable community members to share their perspective on what was important to their health and to help prioritize the areas for grant funding.
The Health Equity Grants will fund organizations working closely and effectively with community residents in one or more of our five priority communities. Funding for the BWH Health Equity Grant program is made possible by the approval of Determination of Need (DoN) applications for two of the hospital’s capital works projects. We will invest $4.45 million in grants over seven years to support community-led health equity efforts taking place within our five priority neighborhoods in an effort to extend their reach and increase their impact.
In this first round of health equity grant funding, we are awarding $640,000 per year for three years to 14 community organizations working with residents in our priority neighborhoods. Grants range in size from $20,000 to $100,000. In 2016, over eighty community-based organizations applied for grant funding and grantees were selected after a thorough review process. The review committee was made up of representatives from the BWH, the Boston Public Health Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Fourteen grants were awarded in 2016 in the following three categories:
Programs that promote community psychological wellness and well-being
Programs to strengthen employment and job skills development opportunities for community residents
Programs addressing health inequity issues with a racial equity lens