News Release

Grants will support outreach on race, ethnicity, and language data

HARTFORD, Conn. (Jan. 9, 2023) – With grants from the Connecticut Health Foundation, seven hospital systems and community health centers will conduct community listening sessions, establish patient advisory boards, and undertake other activities designed to improve how they collect and analyze data on patients’ race, ethnicity, and preferred language.

Having accurate data on race, ethnicity, and language preference – known as REL data – is critical to identifying and addressing population-level gaps in care and outcomes. A state law passed in 2021 requires health care providers to collect this data from patients in a standardized way.

To help ensure that this requirement is implemented effectively and that the data is used to identify and address health inequities, the Connecticut Health Foundation convened a group of health care providers, state agencies, community organizations, and others, to work through issues related to data collection. The grantees are participants in this process, which is being facilitated by the Yale Equity Research and Innnovation Center and the Yale Global Health Leadership Initiative.

While collecting data might sound simple, doing it effectively can require staff training to assure that health care workers understand why it’s important to ask about race and ethnicity and how to do so, and making sure that patients understand why they’re being asked and feel comfortable providing the information. Collecting the data can also require changes in electronic records systems and workflow.

“As health care providers begin asking about race, ethnicity, and language preference on a more regular basis, it’s important that patients are asked the questions in a way they will feel comfortable answering,” said Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. “It’s critically important for community members to be part of informing how this data is collected and how it’s used. We’re thrilled that so many health care providers are committed to implementing this new requirement in a thoughtful way.”

The grantees are:

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation, Hartford: $50,000
Connecticut Children’s Medical Center will use this funding to bring together a diverse group of patients and families to provide feedback on how REL data should be collected and how to explain its importance to staff collecting data and patients and families who will be asked for it. The hospital will then use the feedback to develop trainings and materials for staff, patients and families, and the broader community, with materials available in multiple languages.

Danbury Hospital, Danbury: $50,000
Nuvance Health, Danbury Hospital’s parent company, will develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive internal and community education program aimed at collecting accurate REL data that will support interventions to improve health equity across Western Connecticut.

Family Centers, Greenwich: $50,000
Family Centers will use this funding to train staff in gathering race, ethnicity, and language data, as well as of the importance of this data and its use, as part of the organization’s move to a new electronic health records system. The funding will also support the development of a patient portal in the new records system to improve the collection of patient-reported REL data.

Griffin Hospital, Derby: $30,000
Griffin Health will host community engagement sessions to learn how people would like to be asked about their REL data, then use the feedback to inform changes to the way patients are asked for this and other demographic information. Funding will also support staff education about the importance of REL data and the purchase of software and tablets to allow patients to self-report their data when they get care.

InterCommunity, East Hartford: $50,000
InterCommunity will use this funding to support revising its current data collection methods and training materials, host community focus groups to help identify ways to improve data collection, and provide cultural humility training to 300 direct care providers and administrative support staff.

Saint Francis PHO Foundation, Hartford: $50,000
SoNE HEALTH, a network of medical practices, will use this funding to deploy staff to examine data collection practices within member practices, train patient registration staff, identify opportunities for better data collection and use, and make improvements.

Yale New Haven Health System, New Haven: $50,000
Yale New Haven Health System plans to engage employees, patients, and community members on how to best implement REL data collection and assure that patients understand how data will be used. The health system also plans to return to community members when data finds disparities, to identify ways to address inequities and co-design goals. This funding will also support the development of culturally and linguistically appropriate communications materials about race, ethnicity, and language data, informed by community member feedback.

These grants complement a grant recently awarded to Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, or CONECT, an interfaith organization that is conducting a community education campaign about race, ethnicity, and language data in health care.

These grants are among 24 awarded by the Connecticut Health Foundation in the fourth quarter of 2022, totaling nearly $1.17 million. The others are:

Health Equity Solutions, Hartford: $300,000
This funding will support Health Equity Solutions in its work to address inequities in health outcomes. The organization will host events and trainings on topics related to health equity for policymakers and nonprofit partners. In addition to training, Health Equity Solutions’ advocacy efforts include coordinating coalitions on community health workers and affordability, promoting the adoption and sustainability of community health worker and doula services, and working with a broad coalition of partners to support policies that advance access to equitable, affordable, quality health care. The organization also co-chairs the Commission on Racial Equity in Public Health.

Media grants

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.

Connecticut News Project, Hartford: $150,000 (24 months)
The Connecticut News Project is the parent organization of The Connecticut Mirror, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization. This funding will support The Mirror’s coverage of health policy, including explanatory and in-depth stories and coverage of public health issues, state and federal health policies, and connections between health and issues such as climate, housing, justice, and the economy.

Record-Journal, Inc., Meriden: $100,000 (24 months)
This funding supports the Record-Journal newspaper’s coverage of health issues affecting Black and Latino residents through the position of a health equity beat reporter. Coverage topics include barriers to affordable health care for Black and Latino Connecticut residents, the factors underlying disparate health outcomes by race and ethnicity, and solutions and resources available to improve those outcomes.

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.

Alliance For Living, New London: $10,000
This funding will support anti-racism and diversity, equity, and inclusion work by Alliance for Living, a nonprofit organization in New London County that serves people facing issues including HIV, homelessness, and substance use disorders. The organization will use this grant to create a racial equity task force to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion programming for employees, volunteers, and board members.

Mount Aery Development Corporation, Bridgeport: $2,500
This funding will support efforts to improve access to health care in the Hollow, East Side, and East End neighborhoods of Bridgeport through community conversations and a health awareness campaign to inform local residents about local care providers and ways to access preventive care.

Yale New Haven Health System, New Haven: $10,000
This grant will support the Yale New Haven Health System’s Office of Health Equity in working with community members to gather feedback on health inequities to inform the health system’s health equity strategy. The community engagement efforts will include community conversations, focus groups, and feedback sessions, and the results will be used along with quantitative data to develop strategies for addressing health inequities.

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:

  • Community Action Agency of New Haven, New Haven: $25,000
  • Phillips Metropolitan Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Hartford: $25,000
  • Project Access of New Haven, New Haven: $25,000
Discretionary grants

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

Dovetail: SIP, Stamford: $25,000
This funding will support the Youth Mental Health Alliance in a community engagement initiative designed to increase community members’ understanding of behavioral health and the tools available to improve the mental wellness of young people. Dovetail: SIP is a backbone entity that includes 24 organizations, as well as community members. This project includes separate initiatives focused on students in middle school and high school, pastors, and immigrant parents.

FAIR Health, New York: $25,000
This grant will support research by FAIR Health to examine the effects of the increased use of telehealth on barriers to care for people of color in Connecticut. FAIR Health has a database of private insurance claims that it will use to evaluate telehealth usage and outcomes compared to those for in-person care. Once the research is complete, FAIR Health will publish the findings and share them with health care stakeholders.

Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective, Hartford: $25,000
This funding supported the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective during the recent mpox outbreak to provide outreach and prevention messaging to those at high risk for the virus, which disproportionately affected people of color. Grant funds also supported increased staff time and expanded clinic hours dedicated to mpox response, as well as maintaining a virus information page on the organization’s website, developing outreach materials, and providing vaccines to men who were at risk for mpox.

Hartford International University for Religion and Peace, Hartford: $25,000
This funding will support a pilot program designed to address high rates of burnout, fatigue, and depression among Black and Latino pastors. The Health Fellowship will bring together 15 Hartford-area pastors to participate in a yearlong program that will include discussions with trauma experts, clinical psychologists, and Black ministers who are leaders in church healing. Participants will learn to identify mental health disorders and recognize danger signals, as well as learn about resources available to those who need them. They will also study national best practices in church-based mental health services.

Latinas & Power Corp., Hartford: $25,000
This funding will support Latinas & Power in launching the Latinas in Leadership Institute in the fall of 2023. The institute will offer a four-month certification program in leadership and civic engagement, designed to build the pipeline of leaders and advocates focused on issues that impact brown and Black communities.

Malta House of Care, Hartford: $25,000
Malta House of care provides free primary care to uninsured adults in Greater Hartford. This funding will support the organization in evaluating its current operations and engaging in a strategic planning process that will include incorporating the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic and gathering and incorporating input from patients. This process will include a focus on the role of structural racism in producing the inequities that patients face, and ensuring that the organization’s policies and activities include a focus on advancing racial equity.

Public News Service, Boulder, Colorado: $15,000
This funding will support reporting by Connecticut News Service on health equity issues and communities affected by health disparities. The stories will be available for use by news outlets in Connecticut.

Southwestern AHEC, Shelton: $25,000
This funding will support Southwestern AHEC in an effort to assure that the state certification process for community health workers advances health equity and racial equity and minimizes barriers for those in the workforce. Southwestern AHEC will work with community health workers to develop a roadmap and toolkit for the certification process and recertification requirements.

For more information, please contact Arielle Levin Becker at or 860-724-1580 x 116.

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 $75 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.