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News Release

Grants will support training for community health workers

HARTFORD, Conn. (Dec. 21, 2023) – With funding from the Connecticut Health Foundation, the YWCA of New Britain will work to build a local pipeline of community health workers by developing a course for high school and college students interested in serving as frontline health workers.

The $100,000 grant will help the YWCA of New Britain expand its community health worker (CHW) training program into a 6-credit dual enrollment course at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). The goal is to introduce career opportunities to high school students and connect them to paid internship and apprenticeship positions required for CHW certification. The YWCA of New Britain aims to have the curriculum offered at CCSU by 2025.

Many youths of color in New Britain face health and educational disparities. They will be engaged in the creation of the course and will also be encouraged to use their voices to advocate for systems change. The training program will help create a pathway for a career as a community health worker or in other public health professions.

Widely recognized as a tremendously effective tool for advancing health equity, community health workers have a deep understanding of the communities they serve. The Connecticut Health Foundation’s 2024-2028 strategic plan includes ensuring that these services are more widely available and sustainably funded.

“Community health workers play a crucial role in addressing health disparities. As trusted members of the communities they serve, they help make sure people receive the wholistic care they need. Growing this workforce will help ensure that community health workers are widely available in our state,” said Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. “We are excited for the opportunity this program will create for youth of color to not only be introduced to a career path beginning in high school, but also have the opportunity to make a difference in their own communities.”

“As trusted members of their community, who can speak to residents in their own language, our youth CHWs have demonstrated their potential to link community residents to the clinical care system. Through advocacy to expand career pipelines for youth CHWs, we are helping to give CHWs a sustainable place as key components of the health/public health system,” said Jayme Hannay, YWCA evaluation consultant.

This grant was among 30 awarded by the Connecticut Health Foundation this quarter, totaling $1,075,200. The other grantees are:

Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Hartford $100,000 (2 years)
This funding will support Connecticut Public Broadcasting’s coverage of health disparities and health policy issues in Connecticut through a full-time health reporter for the next two years. Coverage will also be informed by other relevant issues impacting communities of color including education and the environment. CT Public will share its health coverage via radio, television, web, and social media platforms.

The Connecticut Health Foundation provides grants to media organizations because news reporting on health care provides insights, informs debates, and ensures that critical topics reach broad audiences. The funding is awarded with an understanding that the journalism will be independent, and the grant will play no role in editorial decisions about health coverage. 

Health Equity Solutions, Hartford, $300,000
Health Equity Solutions will use this grant to continue its advocacy efforts to address disparities. The organization will host events and trainings aimed at educating advocates, policymakers, health care providers and others about advancing health equity. It will also create and expand coalitions for specific issues, including maternal health.

Keep the Promise Coalition, Middletown, $35,000
This funding will help the Keep the Promise Coalition to create a coalition of peer support specialists and the people they serve to address racial and ethnic inequities in the behavioral health system. Peer support specialists are those with lived experiences who provide care to those in need of mental health support. The coalition will advocate for making peer support services more widely available in our state.

PRESIDENT’S DISCRETIONARY GRANTS

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

Christian Community Action, New Haven, $25,000
This grant will be used to address the disparity of life expectancy for people of color living in certain ZIP codes in New Haven. The organization will host community conversations and share health resources and information with the public. It will also provide advocacy training to community members to help promote policies that will improve health outcomes for people of color.

CT Community Nonprofit Alliance, Hartford, $17,000
The CT Community Nonprofit Alliance is the statewide association of non-profits in Connecticut with nearly 300 member organizations. Many of the organizations address public health and equity issues. This grant will be used for training for non-profit staff who work directly with community members. The Alliance’s Advocacy Leadership Development Cohort will teach staff about advocacy, organizing, the legislative process, and public speaking. The hope is to include more community participation at the legislative level, to offer a perspective that is often missing.

Journey Home, Hartford, $25,000
This funding will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a medical liaison working in a hospital setting to address issues related to homelessness and social determinants of health. The organization will work with a research and consulting firm to see if the liaison will help to reduce health care costs and to identify the cost benefit. A homeless medical liaison would act as a bridge between the systems of housing and health care to increase coordination between the two.

RACE, ETHNICITY, AND LANGUAGE DATA GRANTS

These grants are intended to support health care organizations implementing standardized collection of patients’ self-reported data on race, ethnicity, and language preference (REL). This data is important for identifying and addressing disparities in care and outcomes.  

Community Health and Wellness Center of Greater Torrington, Torrington, $48,200
This grant will be used to conduct community and staff focus groups to help understand the barriers to collecting REL data. Training will also be provided to staff and board members about REL data. Data collected from focus groups will then be used to build a community-focused campaign about the community health center’s REL data collection.

Hartford HealthCare, Hartford, $50,000
Hartford HealthCare will use this grant to conduct focus groups on the best ways to collect REL data and will create training for staff members based on those findings. The funding will also be used to develop internal and patient-facing informational material on why this information is important. The grant will also help Hartford HealthCare make workflow improvements to make REL data easier to collect.

Wheeler Clinic Inc., Plainville, $50,000
This funding will be used to purchase and set up kiosks that will be placed in Wheeler Clinic’s five Health and Wellness Centers. They will allow patients to input demographic information. The grant will also be used to support an informational campaign about the importance of collecting this data that will be shared through social media and flyers/posters.

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 Infinity Collective, Hamden: $20,000
  • Full Citizens Coalition, New Haven: $20,000
  • Hartford Health Initiative, Hartford: $20,000
  • Ledge Light Health District, New London: $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

SANFORD CLOUD AWARDS

The following grants were awarded as part of The Sanford Cloud Awards for Diverse Advocacy, Policy, and Equity, designed to advance health equity for people of color by investing in initiatives led by graduates of the foundation’s Health Leadership Fellows Program and Academy for Health Equity Advocacy and Leadership. The award is named in honor of Sanford Cloud Jr., the foundation’s former board chair. 

Black Health Collective, New London, $10,000
The Black Health Collective will use this grant for a community engagement project to raise awareness about health inequities. The focus will be on New London County. The funds will also be used to launch a health equity podcast and a multimedia campaign aimed at highlighting health issues that impact the Black community.

Advocacy to Legacy, Windsor, $10,000
Advocacy to Legacy is an organization that trains community members on how to advocate effectively. This funding will be used to continue advocacy efforts for a “tobacco proximity law,” which aims to ban the sale of tobacco and cannabis products within a certain distance of schools. The organization will use this grant to train youth and community ambassadors and work with other organizations that share the same goals.

InterCommunity Inc., East Hartford, $10,000
This funding will be used to develop a health care career development program for students of color in East Hartford, Hartford, and South Windsor. The program will connect students to internships, mentoring, and hands-on experience in the health care field. The organization will partner with local high schools to offer the program. Starting in summer 2024, high school juniors will have the opportunity to participate in a two-week rotation at InterCommunity’s various sites.

TRUSTED MESSENGER GRANTS

Information is critical for people’s health, 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 trusted messenger grants to organizations sharing information about changes related to health care coverage. They are: 

  • Community Action Agency of New Haven, New Haven: $15,000
  • Connecticut Worker Center, Bridgeport: $15,000
  • Cross Street Training & Academic Center, Middletown: $15,000
  • CT Students for a Dream, Bridgeport: $15,000
  • Make the Road CT, Hartford: $15,000
  • Project Access of New Haven, New Haven: $15,000
  • The New American Dream Foundation, Danbury: $10,000
  • Urban Alliance, Hartford: $15,000

For more information, please contact Gaby Molina at gaby@cthealth.org or 860-724-1580 x 133

About the Connecticut Health Foundation 
The Connecticut Health Foundation is the state’s largest independent health philanthropy dedicated to improving health outcomes for people of color. Since its creation in 1999, the foundation has awarded more than $78 million to nonprofit organizations and public entities to expand health equity, reduce health disparities, expand health coverage, and improve the health of all Connecticut residents.