Five-year Grant Awarded to Improve Health Outcomes in New Haven

A New Haven-based organization committed to improving health outcomes in the city’s underserved neighborhoods has been awarded a 5-year federal grant of up to $3.68 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The grant includes $720,000 in the first year, with additional funding of a similar amount anticipated for the remaining years. The project, called Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health, will be coordinated by the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE), an organization that is co-housed at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) and the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH).

A third of the money will be allocated to the New Haven community via local organizations and leaders with the intent of enhancing and developing health projects to benefit low-income and underserved populations.

“Health disparities among communities of color in New Haven, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, are an urgent public health problem that we must address,” said Alycia Santilli, director of CARE and assistant professor in the SCSU Department of Public Health.

“We are very enthusiastic about the opportunities this grant will bring to the community — to support and enhance the work of many community partners that work toward health equity.”

She said the competitive grant – one of only about 30 awarded nationally this year -- will bolster the efforts of various programs already making a substantial difference in New Haven.

We are very enthusiastic about the opportunities this grant will bring to the community — to support and enhance the work of many community partners that work toward health equity.

Alycia Santilli

Among the plans for the grant are to:

  • Improve access to health programs in New Haven for individuals at higher risk for developing a chronic disease. Among the ways to do this are to expand the New Haven Health Leaders program, which engages New Haven residents and SCSU graduate students who live in New Haven to address health disparities in their local neighborhoods.
  • Expand Project Access New Haven’s community health worker model to help identify people who might not have a primary care physician and who may need social services, such as food and transportation. This work will take place at social service agencies, such as food pantries, throughout the city to help clients put into practice the health advice they receive.
  • Start a nutrition ranking system at food pantries so that clients can more easily determine which foods are healthy.
  • Promote community support for breast-feeding among vulnerable populations.     
  • Work with transportation officials to help ensure that people can walk and bike to their destinations, as well as have access to bus transportation.

Sandra Bulmer, dean of the SCSU School of Health and Human Services, said the grant is very important for the school, the university and the New Haven community as a whole.

“This grant supports our community partners with their important work, provides resources for New Haven residents, and simultaneously expands practice-based learning opportunities for our undergraduate and graduate students,” Bulmer said. “I am tremendously grateful for the many New Haven agencies that partner with us to provide hands-on training for our students. This grant will allow us to work together in new ways so that we can move closer to our common vision of eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities for New Haven residents.”

The grant will bolster the partnership between YSPH and SCSU, with SCSU implementing community activities and YSPH implementing evaluation activities. The evaluation will be led Kathleen O’Connor Duffany, CARE’s research and evaluation director and associate research scientist at YSPH.

“This grant provides us with the opportunity and funding to continue working toward health equity with neighborhood residents and community partners in New Haven. Utilizing grass-roots mobilization and adapting evidence-based practices to the local context, we will be able to determine what works here in New Haven while being a model for other small cities in the United States,” said Duffany.

CARE and New Haven are ideally positioned to implement this project, according to Santilli, noting that CARE has an 11-year history of partnerships in New Haven. The project is set to begin immediately.

This article was submitted by Elisabeth Reitman on October 3, 2018.

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Kathleen Duffany

Associate Research Scientist in Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences)