News Release

Grant will support outreach on the importance of race, ethnicity, and language data in health care

Connecticut Health Foundation awards 20 grants totaling $685,000

HARTFORD, Conn. (Oct. 6, 2022) – With a grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation, Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut – CONECT – will organize a campaign to educate community members about a new state requirement that health care providers ask for patients’ race, ethnicity, and language preference.

Having accurate data on patients’ race, ethnicity, and language preference, or REL, is critical to identifying and addressing disparities in health care and outcomes. Yet research has found that data is not collected or analyzed in a standardized way among health care providers in the state.

CONECT, an interfaith organization made up of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and civic organizations in New Haven and Fairfield Counties, has advocated for years for improvements in the collection and use of REL data. The organization’s work helped lead to a new state law requiring health care providers to collect self-reported REL data.

To build on this success, CONECT now plans to conduct a community outreach and education campaign to raise awareness of the importance of REL data and build trust in the collection process. The campaign will aim to ensure that patients understand the importance of sharing this information, that providers collect it, and that it is used to address disparities.

“Tracking race, ethnicity, and language data is both needed and timely. But to be effective, it requires community participation and trust in the process,” said Rev. Nancy Kingwood, co-chair of CONECT’s health/mental health team. “It is our hope that policymakers and decision-makers will use this data to address disparities that have been impacting our member congregations and communities, including asthma rates in New Haven and environmental racism in Hamden.”

CONECT’s campaign coincides with work by the Connecticut Health Foundation to assure that the new data-collection requirements are implemented successfully. In 2021, the foundation published a roadmap for standardized collection and analysis of race, ethnicity, and language data, developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. More recently, the foundation hosted a series of convenings for health care providers and others to work together to make sure they are collecting the data from patients in a standardized way. The convening process, which will continue in the coming year, includes making sure staff who collect the data know how to ask the questions and answer patient questions about it, making sure health care providers know how to explain the importance of the data to patients, and then making sure they use the data to identify and address gaps in care and outcomes.

“As health care providers commit to collecting REL data and using it to improve care, it’s critical for patients to know why they are being asked for this information and how it will be used, and to feel comfortable asking questions about it,” Connecticut Health Foundation President and CEO Tiffany Donelson said. “CONECT has been a leader in advocating for using data to identify and address disparities, and we’re happy to support CONECT’s campaign.”

The $65,000 grant to CONECT is one of 20 the foundation awarded this quarter, totaling $685,000.

Coverage expansion grants

The foundation awarded four grants to advocacy organizations working to expand access to health care coverage, focused on residents who are most likely to be uninsured – those with incomes just above the limit for Medicaid eligibility and those who are undocumented. They are:

Center for Children’s Advocacy, Hartford: $65,000

This funding will support advocacy for the expansion of Medicaid coverage for undocumented children and teens and to assure the successful rollout of coverage to younger children that is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. State law now calls for Medicaid coverage – known as HUSKY – to be available to undocumented children 12 and younger starting in 2023.

Cross Street Training and Academic Center, Middletown: $65,000

This funding will support the Ministerial Health Fellowship – an organization of Black faith leaders in New Britain, Hartford, and Middletown – in its advocacy for expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income residents and to promote other policies to advance affordability in health care. This includes raising the eligibility levels for Medicaid and Covered Connecticut – which provides state funding to offset costs for people purchasing coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT. The Ministerial Health Fellowship will also advocate for streamlining access to hospital financial assistance policies, assuring sustainable payment rates for community health workers and doulas, and increasing access to oral health care.

CT Students for a Dream, Bridgeport: $90,000

This funding will support advocacy work to expand access to Medicaid, known as HUSKY, to all immigrants regardless of immigration status. This grant will also support the organization’s coordination of the HUSKY 4 Immigrants campaign coalition, which includes more than 30 organizations. Research suggests that more than half of Connecticut’s undocumented residents are uninsured, leaving them with extremely limited options for getting preventive care or accessing timely care if they get sick or injured.

Make the Road CT, Bridgeport: $65,000

This funding will support Make the Road CT’s advocacy to expand HUSKY eligibility to undocumented immigrants and low-income residents. The organization’s work will include base-building, community education, story collection, advocacy training, and coalition building.

Discretionary grants

President’s discretionary grants are awarded to organizations and institutions that respond to the foundation’s overall mission or priority areas.

Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, Hartford: $25,000

This funding will support the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy in hiring a staff member to help philanthropic organizations in understanding and supporting policy work, with an emphasis on policies that advance racial equity.

Family Centers, Inc., Stamford: $25,000

This grant provides bridge funding for Family Centers’ Here-to-Help program, which supports disengaged and under-engaged students attending Stamford Public Schools. The program includes home visits and focuses on meeting immediate needs, as well as wraparound support to support the whole family.

Hispanic Health Council, Hartford: $25,000

This grant will support the Hispanic Health Council’s work to build a community advisory committee of 10-15 community members, who will share their experiences with barriers to health equity and help devise solutions to address them. Members will also participate in trainings on research, advocacy, and health equity.

Regional Data Cooperative for Greater New Haven, New Haven: $25,000

This grant will support DataHaven in developing the second edition of the Connecticut Health Equity Report, which will provide data and analysis on health inequities at the state and local levels.

Patricia Baker Awards for Health Equity Policy and Advocacy

These grants, named for the foundation’s founding president and CEO, are intended to support grassroots organizations that are led by people of color and focus on work that advances health equity. This year’s grantees are:

  • Black and Brown United in Action, New Haven: $20,000
  • Black Health Collective, New London: $20,000
  • Black Infinity Collective, Hamden: $20,000
  • Full Citizens Coalition, New Haven: $20,000
  • New Britain Racial Justice Coalition, New Britain: $20,000
  • Nonprofit Accountability Group, Hartford: $20,000
  • PowerUp CT, Manchester: $20,000
  • PT Partners, Bridgeport: $20,000

Trusted messenger grants

Information is critical in a public health crisis and often, the messenger is as important as the message itself. Messages are far more effective when they are delivered by trusted sources, and the foundation has awarded grants to trusted messenger organizations since 2020. Most recently, the foundation awarded the following trusted messenger grants:

  • Cross Street Training and Academic Center, Middletown: $25,000
  • Grace Baptist Church, Waterbury: $25,000
  • Greater Bridgeport Area Prevention Program, Bridgeport: $25,000

For more information, contact Arielle Levin Becker at or 860-724-1580 x 16.