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New Practice Fellowship Focus on Equity and Maternal and Child Health

Yale Public Health Magazine, Focus: Spring 2022
by Susan Nappi


The Yale School of Public Health is working with community partners and residents to address maternal and child health inequities across New Haven County and beyond.

The Office of Public Health Practice (OPHP) at the Yale School of Public Health facilitates collaborations among faculty, students and community organizations to meet pressing public health challenges through innovative and equitable solutions. This vision and framework align with YSPH’s commitment to social justice through humility and evidence-informed service, affecting both local and global communities.

To support this vision and deepen experiential learning at YSPH, we recently expanded internship opportunities and deepened partnerships. Together with the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE), the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, and Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), the Health Equity Fellowship Program (HEFP) has supported 23 fellowships focused on co-designed projects that address the needs of historically marginalized populations and equity issues in public health.

Additionally, we developed community lecturer positions to train students on equitable community engagement via class lectures, community panels and student mentoring. Current lecturers include New Haven Healthy Start Director Natasha Ray, M.S., and Community Impact, United Way of Greater New Haven Vice President Jason Martinez, M.S.

With the addition of the new Maternal and Child Health Promotion Track at YSPH, the HEFP now includes three new fellowships focused specifically on equity and maternal and child health.

This expansion was made possible through a $30,000 gift from the Robert and Virginia Shiller Foundation. In addition to providing support for students, this gift also provides three community organizations with funding to support new partnerships with the HEFP.

The inaugural partnership organizations are: All Our Kin, Hands on Peru and the Waterbury Bridge to Success Community Partnership. Partners were chosen based on their equity and maternal and child health focus. YSPH students who are designated maternal and child health fellows will collaborate with these community partners on key initiatives, which include:

Practice is an essential component of public health and a critical element of the education provided at YSPH.

Susan Nappi
  • Developing culturally appropriate health-focused supports for New Haven County family child care educators, many of whom are women of color;
  • Addressing disparate infant and maternal mortality rates for women of color in Waterbury by improving maternal and mental health care coordination for Black and Afro-Latina women through advocacy and collaboration;
  • Evaluating a culturally appropriate and community-building nutrition course in Peru.

At OPHP, we center relationship-building as the organizing principle through which all activities are conducted. The internship model we’ve developed over time strives to honor our collaborative partnerships by offering staffing and other resources to independent community organizations. We are truly grateful for the support these organizations provide our students and understand the potential collective impact these joint projects can have when fully supported year over year. We are grateful to the Shiller Foundation for making the expanded fellowships possible, and we hope to share our project findings with other foundations.

Practice is an essential component of public health and a critical element of the education provided at YSPH. As the nexus for practice-based learning and public health workforce education at YSPH, the OPHP’s vision is clear— to provide YSPH students experiential learning opportunities that are anti-racist and equitable; mutually beneficial to our communities, students and faculty; focused on cultivating physical and mental health and wellness; and fully resourced and supported.

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