Brigham and Women’s Hospital has, through its Center for Community Health and Health Equity, awarded $640,000 funding to 14 local community organizations to help extend their reach and increase their impact, with grants ranging from $20,000 to $100,000 per year for three years. This will be the beginning of a seven year hospital investment of $4.45 million to support community-led health equity efforts taking place in its five priority neighborhoods, which includes Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill and Roxbury. The hospital funds were provided through a community health improvement allocation associated with the approval of two building projects: the expansion on its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the creation of the Building for Transformative Medicine.
“Eighty percent of what makes us healthy can be attributed to factors outside of the health care system, such as whether we live in a safe neighborhood, have access to high-quality education or have access to healthy , affordable foods,” says Wanda McClain, vice president of Community Health and Health Equity at BWH. “These 14 organizations are working closely with their communities to address the social factors that contribute to poor health outcomes. We see these funds as an opportunity to expand what is often thought as the traditional scope of health care to promote prevention and wellness at the community level.”
Over the last two and a half years BWH worked collaboratively with its planning partners – the Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston Alliance for Community Health, community members and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health – to identify and prioritize health needs of the community that should receive financial support. These needs were identified not only through a BWH community health needs assessment but also through an interactive online community engagement tool called ‘What Matters for Health.’ This online game, developed by the Institute for Community Health and the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, enabled members of the community to share their perspective on what was important to their health and what areas should receive grant funding.
At the end of the planning process, three main areas were identified for BWH health equity grant funding: 1) community psychological wellness and well-being, 2) employment and job skill development opportunities, and 3) addressing health inequity issues with a racial equity lens. BWH requested project proposals from organizations utilizing local and innovative approaches to strengthen the conditions that support improved health outcomes and strengthen community residents’ control over the factors that affect their health. After a thorough review process of 86 community organizations that applied, 14 were selected for funding. During the first round of health equity grant funding, BWH will give $640,000 per year, for three years, to these community organizations working with residents in these areas. A comprehensive evaluation of the grant initiative will inform future strategy and other health equity efforts in the City.
The following is a list of the 14 organizations that were selected for the first round of three year grants: