Press Releases

October 27, 2016

Brigham and Women's Hospital Invests $4.45 Million Over Seven Years to Support Community-led Health Equity Efforts

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:

  • All Dorchester Sports League: Fit Kitchen program will enable parents and guardians to participate in multilingual interactive healthy cooking demonstrations and nutrition education
  • Alternative for Community and Environment: Engaging community members in the Dudley Square neighborhood on the issue of the health and social impacts of residential displacement
  • Baraka Community Wellness: Jamaica Plain project that will provide fitness classes, nutrition and parent nurturing education, housing advocacy and enhanced food access for low-income residents of local public housing developments
  • College Bound Dorchester: To provide highly disengaged and proven at-risk students with the skills and support networks needed to succeed academically
  • Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition: Engage young people in Mattapan as leaders in multigenerational community building efforts that increase opportunities for physical activity and enhance social and trauma support
  • MissionSAFE: Outreach and work with young people ages 14-19 at risk of violence, in collaboration with other organizations, the program will provide activities aimed at restorative justice, and building resilience among youth
  • Mothers for Justice and Equality: Help young mothers who are incarcerated prepare for release with personal leadership training, financial literacy and parenting supports with mentoring that continues when they return to the community
  • Sociedad Latina: Supports young people ages 14-21 from Boston’s low-income Latino and Mission Hill/Roxbury communities, providing them with skill building and exploration, sector-specific training, internship placements, mentoring and academic case management
  • Span, Incorporated: An evidence-based model of case management support to incarcerated individuals prior to and following their release, to enhance their physical and behavioral health, as well as socioeconomic stability
  • Stephen's Youth Programs: Social and emotional support for young people, families and staff, including individual, group and family therapy and staff members are provided with individual support and clinical training on a variety of mental health topics
  • The HEART Consortium: Home health aide training for entry level employment in the healthcare sector, promote networking among home health aides to reduce isolation inherent in their work and to expand job growth and career development
  • Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry: Job readiness program offering trauma survivors a healing and nurturing environment to develop life navigational skills that enable success in next-step skills training, entry-level work or secondary education
  • United South End Settlements: Provide holistic wellness and healthy lifestyles support to low-income seniors to enable them to attain optimum health and enhanced social engagement
  • Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts: Provide job training and skills development to individuals 45 years and above to support their reentry to the workforce or continued employment to gain and maintain their financial independence