News Release

The Health Disparities Institute receives a grant to improve health insurance literacy among populations of color  

Foundation Awards Over $419,000 to Nonprofits to Improve Health in Connecticut

Image from Fighting for Equity, UConn Health Journal

HARTFORD, CT – The Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) awarded the Health Disparities Institute, University of Connecticut (HDI), a one year $129,946 grant for the development and capacity building of a new coalition – Equal Coverage to Care Coalition (EC2C). The coalition will work to identify methods of increasing health insurance literacy, adapt viable in-person assistance navigation methods, and develop policy recommendations to simplify health insurance for consumers in Connecticut.

HDI was created with the mission to reduce health disparities through policy and action. In 2016 HDI received a grant to support their health insurance literacy work that established a competency baseline. The survey identified significant disparities in the level of health insurance literacy among people of color – a deficit of 47% for Blacks, 50% for Latinos, and only 26% for Whites.

“New insurance designs are extremely complex. Patients don’t know how to use their insurance,” explains Dr. Victor Villagra, Associate Director of HDI. “HDI is tackling the issue of health equity at the literacy level — looking to mitigate health disparities by ensuring that people understand their options and are empowered to make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” says Tiffany Donelson, VP of Program at CT Health.

Other grants awarded

Connecticut Legal Services (Middletown, statewide reach) was awarded a one year $75,000 grant to support their advocacy efforts around the preservation and protection of healthcare eligibility and access to services for low income communities of color, including the immigrant and low English proficiency communities.

Connecticut Oral Health Initiative (COHI) (Middletown, statewide reach) was awarded a one year $85,000 grant to continue their advocacy work, leveraging their 2016 progress towards 1) incorporating an oral health measure into the State Innovation Model (SIM) and 2) the protection and preservation of HUSKY dental coverage.

United Connecticut Action for Neighborhoods (Hartford) was awarded a one year $50,000 general operating support grant to support their work in implementing a structure for recruiting, educating and activating a network of more than 1,000 advocates for long term structural changes to health reform.

President’s discretionary grants

Bridging Health & Community (via fiscal sponsor Insight Center for Community Economic Development) was awarded $20,000 to fund a delegation of leaders working to improve community health in Connecticut to attend a national symposium focused on community agency and health. The goal is that these participants will share knowledge from their experience in Connecticut with others at the symposium, build a network with colleagues from other localities, increase their capacity to engage in partnerships that foster community agency, and make specific action commitments to implement after the symposium.

Community Action Agency of New Haven was awarded $25,000 discretionary grant for their work amplifying the voices of low-income Greater New Haven residents and their expressed needs specifically with regards to improving access to healthcare by building collaborative partnerships.

Connecticut Choosing Wisely Collaborative c/o CT Center for Primary Care was awarded $9,250 to support a convening to further disseminate the findings of a previous discretionary grant, “Enhancing Patient/Clinician Communication:  Leveraging Choosing Wisely as a Tool for Achieving Health Equity.” The first grant examined the question of how the Choosing Wisely campaign could be used with low-income patients and vulnerable populations of color to advance health equity.

New London Homeless Hospitality Center was awarded $15,000 to aid in the design of a community-based care management approach that integrates housing and targeted community based health related interventions to improve health outcomes for homeless adults that are a risk of hospital readmission, have a serious uncontrolled chronic condition, or have a history of multiple emergency room visits.

Cross Street Training and Academic Center was awarded $10,000 for their work cultivating church advocates through a health ministerial fellowship. Funds will be to support monthly meetings to encourage active political participation of pastors and congregations in the Black community, by providing action-oriented trainings and opportunities to engage in legislative advocacy for pressing health issues that affect all Black communities.

About the Connecticut Health Foundation

The Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) is the state’s largest independent health philanthropy dedicated to improving lives by changing health systems. Since it was established in 1999, the foundation has supported innovative grantmaking, public policy research technical assistance and convening to achieve its mission – to improve the health of the people of Connecticut. Over the past 17 years, CT Health has awarded grants totaling more than $59 million in 45 cities and towns throughout the state.

In 2013, CT Health announced a five-year strategic plan that made expanding health equity the foundation’s central focus. For CT Health, health equity means helping more people gain access to better care, especially people of color and underserved populations. Better care includes physical, mental, and oral health.

For more information about the foundation, please visit or contact Liz Kellner at or 860.724.1580, ext. 13.