News Release

Grants support grassroots advocacy, organizing

Foundation announces inaugural Patricia Baker Awards for Health Equity Policy and Advocacy

HARTFORD, Conn. (Dec. 8, 2021) – Five grassroots organizations will receive grants from the Connecticut Health Foundation as part of the inaugural Patricia Baker Awards for Health Equity Policy and Advocacy.

The grants, named for the foundation’s founding president and CEO who retired in 2021, 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 include organizations focused on improving the experiences of people of color when receiving health care; providing support to African American women with breast cancer; and advocating for and supporting residents in addressing concerns in their communities.

“We are thrilled to support these important activities and organizations through the Patricia Baker Awards,” said Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. “Through the application process, we got to know many organizations doing phenomenal work in their communities. I am eager to build on these relationships as we all work to assure that everyone in Connecticut has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.”

The foundation awarded these grants based on a new application process, developed for this grant initiative. Rather than having applicants begin by submitting a written concept paper or application, the process for these grants began with a virtual meeting, designed to allow foundation staff and applicants to ask questions and get to know each other’s work. Several of the grantees are new partners for the foundation.

“These meetings were intended to ‘open our doors,’ and make the grantmaking process more accessible to grassroots organizations,” Donelson said. “As a foundation focused on health equity, it’s important to reflect on how we can make our own processes more equitable, and this is one step in that direction.”

The organizations receiving $10,000 grants through the Patricia Baker Awards are:

Black and Brown United in Action, New Haven
Black and Brown United in Action is a grassroots organization focused on social justice and equity. This funding will support the organization’s work to examine how mental wellness and medical emergencies are being handled in communities of color and to recommend changes that will improve equity. This initiative grew out of concerns about how people of color were being treated during emergency situations.

Covering My Sisters, Shelton
Covering My Sisters provides support and education for African American women diagnosed with breast cancer. The organization pairs breast cancer survivors with women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer; the survivors serve as patient navigators and provide education and support in treatment decisions. In addition, the organization’s Sisters Reaching Sisters program connects survivors with women who are new survivors through phone conversations and in-person visits. Navigators and advocates also participate in community education initiatives at barbershops, hair salons, and other community locations.

Nonprofit Accountability Group, Hartford
Nonprofit Accountability Group was founded in 2021 to advocate for racial equity in the nonprofit sector through organizing, advocacy, and mutual aid. The organization’s activities include advocacy, a monthly grocery program for families, a food pantry, an arts program for children designed to promote creativity and brain health, and discussions with residents about concerns they have in their communities.

PowerUp CT, Manchester
PowerUp CT engages in advocacy and activism and provides basic resources to families in need. This funding will support an initiative to add patient advocates to hospital emergency rooms to support patients and assure they are heard and respected by health care providers. The initiative was inspired by many people of color, poor, queer, and trans individuals who shared their experiences of being traumatized by how they were treated in medical facilities.

PT Partners, Bridgeport
PT Partners is a community-based organization led by residents of PT Barnum Apartments, a low-income public housing complex in Bridgeport. The organization empowers residents to identify issues that matter to their community and address them proactively. This funding will help to support an environmental justice fellow for the organization to lead an advocacy campaign by residents to have a voice in addressing issues related to a sewage treatment plant that borders the apartment complex.

President’s discretionary grants

In addition to the Patricia Baker Awards, the foundation awarded six president’s discretionary grants that originated through the new application process. They are:

Black Health Collective, New London: $10,000
The Black Health Collective works to identify and address health disparities affecting Black residents of Southeastern Connecticut. Areas of concern include mental and emotional wellbeing, asthma, oral health, obesity, and hypertension, as well as a lack of access to health care in the community and experiences of unfair treatment within the health care system. This funding will support the Black Health Collective in developing a strategic plan.

Christian Community Action, New Haven: $10,000
Christian Community Action plans to use this funding to develop a story lab and increase the technology skills of people served by the organization, with the intention of benefitting both their daily lives and their ability to advocate for issues important to them. The pandemic made clear how important technology access and skills are, and many people without computers or smartphones, or expertise in using them, were unable to access telehealth services, attend virtual meetings, or sign up online for COVID-19 testing or vaccines. Christian Community Action plans to provide training on digital technology and create a story lab to help residents share their experiences and collect others’ stories to share with policymakers.

Cross Street Training and Academic Center, Middletown: $10,000
This funding will support the Ministerial Health Fellowship, a faith-based health advocacy network of Black pastors and church leaders, to build its organizational capacity by developing internal policies and procedures and undergo a strategic planning process. The Ministerial Health Fellowship has grown considerably in recent years, and these processes will allow it to build organizational capacity, strengthen operations, set priorities, and inform decisions about its future.

Full Citizens Coalition, New Haven: $10,000
Full Citizens Coalition focuses on improving the social health of impoverished Black communities in Connecticut through civic engagement. This funding will support the organization in conducting workshops designed to increase civic engagement among community college students and assist with voter registration for people who are on parole.

National Association of Hispanic Nurses – Hartford Chapter, Bloomfield: $1,800
This funding will allow the National Association of Hispanic Nurses – Hartford Chapter and the Northern Connecticut Black Nurses Association to provide mental health first aid training to all chapter members, including student nurses and those who are currently practicing or retired. Mental health needs among health care workers and the general public are expected to rise as the pandemic continues, and this training is intended to help participants identify potential mental health needs in others and to seek assistance.

PowerUp CT, Manchester: $10,000
This funding will support PowerUp CT in running EmpowerU Manchester, a program designed for children of color who report isolation and mental health stress. The program includes workshops and mentorship by staff, as well as creative arts, sports, yoga, and African dance. The program also provides peer mentors for youth who have experienced significant trauma during the pandemic, such as loss of family members or family economic stress. The funding will also support the beginning of an evaluation of the program as a model for providing social support for isolated youth of color, which could allow for more sustainable forms of funding in the future.

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