News Release

Grants will support community health workers responding to COVID-19

HARTFORD, Conn. (April 1, 2021) – Funding from the Connecticut Health Foundation will support 18 community health workers in Danbury, Norwalk, and Stamford to continue supporting each city’s COVID-19 response efforts, help residents get vaccinated, and connect community members with needed resources.

The three $100,000 grants are among 18 grants awarded, totaling $706,400.

Community health workers are frontline health workers and trusted members of their communities who serve as a bridge between their communities and the health care and social service systems. In 2020, the Connecticut Health Foundation and the Connecticut COVID-19 Charity Connection, known as 4-CT, funded community health workers in several cities to assist in the pandemic response. The grants the foundation awarded this week will support continued work by community health workers in Danbury, Norwalk, and Stamford.

In Danbury, eight community health workers are conducting outreach to vulnerable populations, helping individuals schedule appointments for vaccination, assisting with vaccine clinics, and helping with contact tracing. This grant to the Danbury Department of Health and Human Services will allow these community health workers to continue their work through August 31.

In Norwalk, five community health workers employed by Family & Children’s Agency help the city’s health department with contact tracing, connecting residents to community resources, education, and outreach related to COVID-19. Their work includes outreach at laundromats, barber shops, corner stores, and other community locations; working with faith leaders to answer questions and conduct education sessions; supporting staff at vaccine clinics; and assisting with the health department’s vaccine assist phone line. This grant to the City of Norwalk will support their work through July 31.

In Stamford, Family Centers Inc. employs five multilingual community health workers who work to support families who are quarantining because of COVID-19. They will also help city residents sign up for vaccine appointments and arrange transportation to clinic sites, work to combat misinformation about vaccines, and link residents with services to address ongoing needs. This grant to the City of Stamford will support the continuation of their work through June 30.

“COVID-19 illuminated the importance of community health workers,” said Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. “As Connecticut works to assure equity in vaccine access and address the needs of the communities that are hardest-hit by COVID-19, community health workers will be especially important in making sure no one is left further behind.”

“As we think about the lessons to draw from the pandemic, one must be of the need to ensure that community health workers can continue their exceptionally important work in improving health and well-being in their communities with sustainable funding and integration in the health care system,” Donelson added.

The other grants awarded are:

Community Health Center Association of Connecticut, Cheshire: $50,000
The use of telehealth has increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the care delivered remotely can be less effective if patients are unable to monitor their vital signs. This funding will support 16 community health centers throughout the state in providing kits to patients with items that will assist their telehealth care, including digital thermometers, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, and spirometers.

Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut (CONECT), Hamden: $25,000
CONECT is an interfaith community organization that includes 37 congregations and institutions, representing 30,000 people. CONECT works to address health disparities, including the high rates of asthma in New Haven, but has found that a lack of standardized health data on race, ethnicity, and language makes it difficult to understand the causes of disparities, including major gaps in life expectancy across the state. This funding will support CONECT’s work to raise awareness about the importance of the collection and analysis of race, ethnicity, and language data in health care to identify and address the health inequities that affect CONECT’s members and communities.

Connecticut Oral Health Initiative (COHI), Hartford: $85,000
This funding will support COHI’s advocacy for oral health services and equity, including work to identify the impact of a cap on dental coverage in Medicaid and advocating for the use of teledental services to improve access to care.

Hispanic Health Council, Hartford: $50,000
This funding will support the Hispanic Health Council’s work to advocate for and advance sustainable funding for community health worker services.

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. The foundation awarded grants of $15,000 each to six organizations to deliver information and serve as a resource to answer questions about COVID-19 and the vaccine. The organizations are:

  • Cross Street Training and Academic Center, Middletown
  • Greater Bridgeport Area Prevention Program, Bridgeport
  • Khmer Health Advocates, West Hartford
  • New Opportunities, Inc., Waterbury
  • Phillips Metropolitan Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Hartford
  • Project Access of New Haven, New Haven
Discretionary grants

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

Connecticut Citizens Research Group, Hartford: $25,000
This funding will support the work of the Medicaid Strategy Group to advocate for expanded access to coverage for low-income adults and ensure that state residents have access to coverage regardless of their immigration status. People of color in Connecticut are disproportionately likely to be uninsured.

Connecticut Department of Social Services, Hartford: $19,900
The Connecticut Department of Social Services, which runs the state’s Medicaid program, is working to improve outcomes and address disparities in maternal outcomes. Medicaid covers more than 40 percent of births in Connecticut, and in spite of efforts to improve maternity care through Medicaid, the rates of C-sections among Black members have not changed. Among Medicaid members, Black women are also much more likely than others to have adverse maternal outcomes. The Department of Social Services is now working to develop a Medicaid maternity bundle that could cover services including those provided by midwives, doulas, and community health workers, as well as a nationally recognized breastfeeding initiative. This funding will support the Department of Social Services in engaging a consultant to help develop the bundle, including by incorporating national best practices, working with Connecticut stakeholders, and conducting research and analysis to inform the design.

Hartford Communities That Care, Hartford: $25,000
This funding will support work by violence prevention professionals through the Connecticut Hospital Violence Intervention Program Collaborative, including work to ensure the sustainability of this initiative. The program provides crisis response to victims of violence to address emotional, psychological, and physical needs, as well as helping survivors stabilize their lives and navigate medical, mental health, and criminal justice systems.

Hispanic Health Council, Hartford: $11,500
This funding will support the Hispanic Health Council to provide training to community outreach specialists to serve as contact tracers on behalf of the state Department of Public Health. Community outreach specialists are individuals from towns that have been most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and were chosen based on their knowledge of community needs and resources. They will bring their skills to contact tracing work to communicate with people who have COVID-19 and their contacts, share information about quarantine guidelines, identify unmet basic needs and connect people with services to help address their needs. The training will include cross-cultural and diversity inclusiveness training and training in motivational interviewing. The Hispanic Health Council will also offer a version of the training to all contact tracers and volunteers serving through the state Department of Public Health.

URU The Right To Be, Hamden: $25,000
This funding will support URU’s Our Humanity collaborative, an effort that includes developing and disseminating information about COVID-19 prevention, testing, and vaccination. Our Humanity’s Connecticut-based collaborative includes more than 200 community entities that engage communities of color. The effort is also aimed at increasing the capacity of community entities to respond to future crises and inequity by providing training and support to leaders.

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