Two grant opportunities aim to address the social determinants of health by creating community-based health programs.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will be making a $6 million investment in Purpose Built Communities, an organization that addresses intergenerational poverty, RWJF President and CEO Richard Besser recently announced. The Foundation hopes this investment will support health equity and address poverty as a key social determinant of health.
Purpose Built Communities is a national nonprofit that aims to create a network of communities tackling intergenerational poverty as a significant limitation of individual health and wellness. The organization specifically works with community business leaders, community members, and other local partners to invest in public housing, education, and neighborhood wellness.
“Purpose Built Communities has been at the forefront of changing community conditions in order to improve health and wellbeing for the past decade,” Said Abbey Cofsky, managing director of Program at the Foundation. “We are excited to work with them and their network in ways that accelerate efforts to improve health equity and end the cycle of intergenerational poverty in regions across the country.”
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The funding will support Purpose Built Communities and its mission to promote public health and community wellness. Specifically, the RWJF funding will back a platform on which Network Members can exchange best practices and community information, while also discussing the most challenging issues surrounding their public health and community wellness programs.
Additionally, the RWJF funding will support a community evaluation of how Purpose Built Communities and its affiliated projects has impacted member communities. The evidence-based assessment will be done in partnership with a national advisory committee.
Ultimately, this partnership aims to promote health equity and community wellness, not only in healthcare but in the social determinants of health that can eventually impact wellness.
“We are very excited about this partnership and what it will do to help create better health, economic, and racial equity outcomes across the country,” said David Edwards, CEO, Purpose Built Communities. “This investment by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a testament to their leadership in addressing the social determinants of health—to elevate and share solutions to the root causes of poverty.”
This investment was announced at the 10th Annual Conference of Purpose Built Communities. Also at the conference, Purpose Built Communities unveiled the seven new communities that will join its network, bringing the network to 27 communities across the country. Those new community partners include Atlanta and Columbus Georgia; Tallahassee, Florida; Syracuse, New York; Dallas, Texas; and two in Cleveland, Ohio.
The RWJF investment is just one example of how healthcare institutions are supporting community healthcare groups. Earlier this week, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) announced a $6.6 million grant for psychology researchers at DePaul University to address African American youth violence, another notable social determinant of health.
The project will specifically engage ninth graders and teach them skills related to stress management. The program will also address resilience and interpersonal violence and suicide prevention.
“In communities hard-hit by poverty and drugs, children witness violence and it leads to more violence. Children in these environments do what they do because they’re trying to survive,” said W. LaVome Robinson, professor of psychology at DePaul and principal investigator for the research. “We are giving children ways to minimize the likelihood they are going to be exposed to, participate in or experience violence,” she said.
The program will leverage the Success Over Stress model, which has undergone considerable research and vetting. Success Over Stress brings 15 educational sessions into the classroom, focusing on culturally competent strategies to address environment stress and stem community violence than can often result from stress.
“These children are trying to develop under enormous stress. Any individual with the right amount of stress will seek to cope with that stress,” said Robinson. Children entering high school have not developed the level of sophistication about coping strategies adults have achieved, so they may make choices harmful to themselves and others, she explained.
“We help the children recognize stressors in advance, to anticipate the stressor and prepare for the stressor, so they don’t get overwhelmed and do impulsive kinds of things,” said Robinson.
The program was designed alongside the teenagers who will participate in it, allowing the teens to name the example scenario characters and outline the types of stressful scenarios teens may face in their daily lives. Example scenarios included being followed through a store or profiled by police on the street.
Integrating participant voices into the design of the program has been effective, Robinson noted. During pilot testing, 80 percent of program participants said the program helped them meet their stress relief goals.
The NIMH grant aims to leverage that current success and bring the program into the real world. The grant will train school-based social workers in the program to deliver the program to more students, a move program developers hope promotes evidence-based community health strategies.
“People are asking ‘What do we do about gun violence? What do we do about school violence?’ There are a lot of people doing good work, but not a lot of empirically validated solutions. We aim to change that,” said psychology professor Leonard A. Jason, a co-investigator on the study and director of DePaul’s Center for Community Research.
Source: Patient Engagement Hit