BOSTON (WWLP) – Over $15 million in grants is being awarded to 24 nonprofit community bases organizations, cities and towns, and regional planning commissions.
According to a news release sent to 22News from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Baker-Polito announced on Monday that $15.9 million to fund community health efforts in the Commonwealth.
These funds come from the Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds, which is administered by Health Resources in Action, Inc. (HRiA) in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA). In addition to the 32 organizations funded in 2020, the 24 newly funded organizations are bringing the total funding to $30.6 million for community health efforts across the state. The funds are because of the Commonwealth for community health improvement initiatives from healthcare entities that engage in the Determination of Need process.
“These funds bolster the Administration’s efforts to support communities by increasing access to critical resources that are fundamental for public health, including affordable housing, transportation, and healthy foods,” stated Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders.
Community partners are going to use the funds to increase awareness of the impact of structural racism on population health, as well as to address these disparities by effectuating long-term, meaningful changes in the population’s health outcomes, such as mental health, chronic disease, and aging.
The funding is being focused on three core areas:
- those working on long-lasting, community-driven policy, systems, and environmental changes that will make it easier to lead healthy lives and reduce health inequities
- those organizing and coordinating Community Health Improvement Planning (CHIP) efforts to collectively set, address, and achieve community health goals
- those working to address policies and systems that increase opportunities for healthy aging
“We look forward to the meaningful work our new partners will undertake to increase opportunities for healthy aging and for the expansion of healthy aging practices in new communities in the Commonwealth,” said Executive Office of Elder Affairs Secretary Elizabeth Chen.
“These investments allow us to expand our support for community health efforts across the Commonwealth and fund the work of our partner organizations to ensure equitable access and inclusion in a variety of areas,” said Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke.
Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change (PSE) Awardees
Asian Women for Health
Workforce Development Job Training Program to Promote More Asian and Minority CHWs
Asian Women for Health will launch a workforce development program to recruit, train and find jobs for Asian and other people of color as community health workers, peer specialists, patient navigators, and wellness coaches. This initiative aims to remove barriers to healthcare services by diversifying the healthcare industry and uplifting marginalized populations.
Boys & Girls Club of Stoneham
LGBTQIA2S+ Mental Health Initiative
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield will launch a multifaceted LGBTQIA2S+ Mental Health Initiative. This initiative will include but is not limited to:
- Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) focused on LGBTQIA2S+ youth in our service region. This will be open to the general public, not just our members.
- Investment in LGBTQIA2S+ staff and trainings related to affirming care, intersectionality, etc. with invitations to community leaders such as police, teachers, health officials, among others to join in the trainings.
- Creation of a safe space(s) for LGBTQIA2S+ youth at our new teen center and advocacy/creation of more safe spaces in other buildings in our service region including at partner organizations.
- Launching of mentor program where we partner LGBTQIA2S+ youth with adults who have similar lived experiences. Like our SBIRT efforts, this will be open to all youth, not just our members.
- Produce campaign materials focusing on improving acceptance and generating allies in our service region.
Centro de Ayuda y Esperanza Latina, Inc.
New Bedford Behavioral Health Training and Fellowship Program
The New Bedford Behavioral Health Training and Fellowship Program aims to increase the number of qualified bilingual and bicultural preventionists and peer recovery workers employed in the Greater New Bedford area. This program will offer free trainings, mentorship, and a select number of paid fellowships for real-life experience working with local agencies. This project is highly focused on quality community engagement, community empowerment, and building strong quality partnerships with organizations at the local, state, and national levels.
Community Development Partnership
Lower Cape Community Housing Partnership
The CDP’s Lower Cape Community Housing Partnership addresses housing insecurity in our region by equipping residents, business owners, community leaders and local officials with the knowledge and skills needed to support the creation of more homes in the eight towns of the Lower Cape. With this funding we are expanding the community organizing component of the program to support systems change around land use policies in order to increase housing production.
Advancing Massachusetts School Districts toward Increased Child Access to Food Education and Nourishing School Meals
FoodCorps will invest in multi-year school district partnerships in Lowell, Springfield, New Bedford, Chelsea, and Holyoke, and co-create food education and school nutrition goals informed by the district and the needs of its community. FoodCorps will recruit, train, place, and support 20 AmeriCorps service members who will serve across the five districts each academic year. FoodCorps’ menu of specific activities that service members are trained and resourced to deliver will be used to inform the site’s annual plan for each service member tailored to meet local needs. FoodCorps’ will gather and amplify evidence from on-the-ground success in order to build a case for permanent state funding to reach all districts across the state in co-leadership role within the Massachusetts Food for Massachusetts Kids Coalition.
Health Imperatives, Inc.
Pathways to Power: Economic Empowerment for Survivors of Trauma and Violence
HEAL Hope, Empower, Access, Live
HEAL stands for Hope, Empower, Access, and Live and is a Coalition with 100+ members multi sector, and multi-generational partnerships governed by a steering committee composed of 11 local organizations, 10 residents, and 10 youth leaders. HEAL promotes social inclusion, equitable healthy food access, and economic empowerment. The Community Health PSE project will focus on disrupting the racial and power inequities that exist in Gardner and Winchendon. HEAL will facilitate a participatory process where affected youth, low-wealth, and BIPOC residents work with municipal and institutional powerholders to lead and benefit from policy, system, and environmental transformations that prioritize racial equity, and inclusion.
Housing Navigator Massachusetts, Inc.
Community Engagement for Informing and Increasing Impact
Housing instability is a root cause of inequitable health outcomes; housing stability has well-documented positive effects for health and mental well-being. Fair and equitable access to affordable housing is central to a future in which a person’s race, ethnicity, or gender no longer predicts their health outcomes. Housing Navigator Massachusetts is a direct response to improve affordable housing systems and policies. Our mission is connecting people with places to call home. Our work consolidates and streamlines housing information in our free, 24/7 housing search tool, furthering equity by making information clear and accessible to renters. This funding will allow us to build staff capacity in order to engage more fully with the communities we serve, at both programmatic and systemic levels. First and foremost, it will allow us to improve the Navigator resource based on renters’ self-reported needs. We will add features and resources to improve the user experience. Feedback will also help identify and prioritize our approach to systems change.
Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations
Housing Quality and Health (HQH) Equity Initiative: Addressing Racial Health Inequities Caused by Poor Quality Housing
MACDC’s Housing Quality and Health (HQH) Equity Initiative will tackle poor housing quality and associated housing instability, and address the corresponding racial health inequities, by improving existing housing stock in Gateway Cities. The initiative will focus on addressing lead paint and poor indoor air quality, to improve housing quality, housing stability, and resident health. The Initiative will focus on a cohort of Gateway Cities and in the process create a template that can be scaled up.
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI)
Statewide Health Access for Justice-Involved Individuals
The project will identify and execute solutions to overcome systemic barriers to public benefits access and healthy outcomes for criminal justice-involved (“CJI”) individuals upon release from the custody of the Department of Corrections and the County Houses of Correction. The project will initially focus on eligibility and access to health care through MassHealth; over time we will also identify and address barriers to other benefits programs, e.g., SNAP, as well as child support debt incurred while incarcerated, family reunification, and other systemic barriers confronted by individuals upon reentry.
Old Colony YMCA
Breaking Barriers and Advancing Health Equity in Taunton
Old Colony YMCA (OCY) will address the root causes that negatively affect opportunities for active living and access to healthy and affordable food through policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change strategies with partners and residents in Taunton over a period of 5 years. Taunton has unique challenges that cause significant health disparities among residents, especially residents of color and low-income residents, which can be attributed to centuries of oppressive systems. OCY and partners will engage and empower residents to lead and advance PSE change initiatives in the most impacted census tracts in a way that benefits residents and mitigates unintended negative impacts of change. The focus will be on improving active living by conducting audits on community walkability/ bikeability and access to public green space. Additionally, the work will focus on increasing healthy eating by connecting residents to public assistance programs.
Springfield Healthy Food Systems Collaborative
Springfield Healthy Food Systems Collaborative will engage in efforts targeted to strengthen and expand the existing work of the Collaborative to ensure access to locally grown healthy food in Springfield specifically through systemizing our work and expanding knowledge about, and access to, the Healthy Incentive Program (HIP). HIP is a public benefit unique to Massachusetts that affords SNAP recipients the opportunity to receive an added allowance for locally grown produce.
The Center for Hope and Healing, Inc.
Greater Lowell Domestic/Sexual Violence Equity Task Force
The Center for Hope and Healing Inc. (CHH) will combine force with Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK), Alternative House (AH), and Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) to create a city-wide DV/SV Task Force to ensure that survivors of Domestic Violence (DV) and Sexual Violence (SV), particularly BIPOC survivors have an equitable opportunity to heal from trauma and achieve the highest possible quality of life. This project has several activities including: 1) formalizing a citywide DV/SV Task Force; 2) providing training on impacts of DV/SV as well as antiracism and other trainings that address this social determinant of health; 3) launch a city-wide campaign to destigmatize DV/SV BIPOC survivors seeking services; and 4) host city-wide public awareness activities to educate the public and provide greater visibility/access to DV/SV services.
Chipping Away at Barriers to Health Faced by Young Adults Involved with Gangs or Returning from Incarceration
UTEC will look to expand its efforts to break down structural and institutional barriers to health, faced by young adults who are involved with gangs or returning from incarceration. Specifically, they will pursue changes that provide a clean slate for young adults with a past criminal record; advocate for changes in the distribution of resources that are necessary to form a viable financial path from incarceration to stable employment; and foster community organizing and leadership skills so that young adults can create change in their own communities.
Winthrop Public Health & Clinical Services (WDPH&CS)
Winthrop Youth Mental Health Improvement Initiative
With this funding, the Town of Winthrop will work to remove obstacles and disrupt barriers to mental health care for all young people with a particular focus on our most vulnerable and underserved youth populations. These funds will be used to enhance and expand current programming in the WDPH&CS by focusing specifically on the youth in our community.
Healthy Aging Awardees
Advancing Housing Equity for Seniors
Community Teamwork will establish Advancing Housing Equity for Seniors project, in partnership with Age Friendly Lowell, Coalition for a Better Acre, REACH LoWell, and Community Teamwork’s AmeriCorps Senior Programs to address the root cause of housing instability among low-income seniors.
Dominican Development Center, Inc
Seniors Transforming Other Seniors
This project brings together community resources and professional expertise from two organizations—The Dominican Development Center and Nuevo Dia, an Adult Day Health Center—that support seniors in Latino communities in the Boston Area. Our proposed, Senior Transforming Other Seniors, builds upon our experiences with seniors in multiple cities to create a new community model to support the mental health needs of our Latino elders and cultivate their untapped leadership potential. Our goal is to empower seniors through programming that nurtures their physical and mental well-being, honors their knowledge and leadership skills, and restores them to social spaces of joy and companionship
Reducing Chronic Diseases Through Engagement and Empowerment of Seniors in Chelsea
The Reducing Chronic Diseases Through Engagement and Empowerment of Seniors in Chelsea project is planning to address environmental injustice and improve public health by increasing seniors and the aging population’s participation in transit justice. GreenRoots will uplift, engage, and empower multilingual Chelsea seniors to ensure their voices are heard in decision making processes and ultimately ensure they can enjoy a reliable, equitable and accessible public transit system.
Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts
Healthy Aging in Place
The Health Aging-In-Place project is planning to address interconnected barriers to aging- in-place in a way that is secure and healthy (For example, food insecurity due to dietary and cultural barriers; undiagnosed and untreated trauma from their past while having few options for mental health treatment; language barriers). The Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts will assess, plan, and implement culturally relevant service expansion for Southeast Asian elders in Central and Western Massachusetts; advocate for the implementation of culturally relevant services and programs with partner organizations; and engage and train elders and their caregivers for self-advocacy.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Community-engaged family-based healthy aging intervention to promote social and mental health among older adults in Massachusetts
The University of Massachusetts Amherst has a profound legacy and commitment to social justice, extending across generations and spanning disciplines. One of the main visions for campus strategic plan is to “organize for success by ensuring the inclusion of underserved communities in the university’s outreach and engagement efforts.” In alignment with this vision, our community-engaged family-based healthy aging intervention, including psychoeducation, problem-solving, breathing exercises, and yoga, aims to improve five “Age-Friendly” movement areas to make communities more welcoming and livable for older residents and people of all ages such as “community and health service,” “communication and information,” “social participation,” “respect and social inclusion,” and “civic participation and employment.”
Community Health Improvement Planning (CHIP) Awardees
African Cultural Services, Inc.
Working together for a healthier Ugandan Community in Massachusetts
African Cultural Services will conduct a CHIP process to further understand the needs of the community and work with other community organizations to address those needs. The CHIP process will primarily engage with Ugandan immigrants in Waltham and many other service providers and organizations that serve or seek to engage with the community.
Breaktime United, Inc.
Convening a statewide CHIP process to identify, analyze, and address the root causes of young adult homelessness
Breaktime seeks to help young adults facing housing insecurity secure career-launching job opportunities and permanent housing while empowering them to serve their local community. We will conduct a statewide CHIP to better understand young adult homelessness by engaging entities throughout the state to form statewide coalitions to end young adult homelessness.
City of Lawrence, Mayors Health Task Force
Building an Inclusive and Effective Community Health Improvement Plan
The City of Lawrence participates in the triennial Community Health Needs Assessment done by the hospital and community Health Center. In an effort to deepen community engagement in the implementation process, the City of Lawrence in partnership with UMass Lowell and other community-based partners, will embark on a CHIP, focused on race and health equity, to strategically complement partner efforts to affect change in the health and well-being of those most significantly impacted by compromised social determinants of health.
Family Nurturing Center
Boston’s BIPOC Family Support Network
Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts, Inc proposes to meet the needs of BIPOC families with young children in Boston through Welcome Baby visits, diaper pantries, developmental screenings, playgroups, referral services and more, to improve mental health outcomes for children and adults; address social determinants of health, particularly education and socio-cultural environments; and disrupt the effects of racism, xenophobia and poverty on Boston’s BIPOC families.