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Health Equity Fellowships Expand in New Haven County

August 06, 2021

As part of a joint commitment to improve health equity and support community programs in Greater New Haven County, the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) and Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) expanded their Health Equity Fellowship program for students this year.

“This program provides students an opportunity to gain valuable public health work experience through projects that are co-created with various community organizations that work with and in historically underrepresented communities,” said Mayur M. Desai, Ph.D.’97, M.P.H.,’94, associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at YSPH.

Seven graduate students enrolled in the Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree program at YSPH participated in the Health Equity Fellowship pilot program last summer. This year, the program expanded to 12 students, who are working with seven community organizations and programs. In all, nine Fellowships were awarded to M.P.H. students from YSPH and three to students from SCSU.

The Health Equity Fellowship program at YSPH is overseen by YSPH’s Office of Public Health Practice (OPHP) in partnership with the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE), which is jointly run by YSPH and SCSU.

“We are following the lead of community agencies and co-developing projects that meet immediate needs in New Haven county,” said Susan Nappi, M.P.H. ’01, the OPHP’s executive director. “We ask and we listen. Supporting these projects through funding and mentoring is one way to foster equitable partnerships,”

Working individually or in teams, this year’s Fellowship projects include:

  • Creating a community engagement strategy with school-aged youth at the United Way of Greater New Haven.
  • Monitoring and evaluating services provided by the Greater Waterbury Food Resource Committee, in collaboration with the United Way of Greater Waterbury.
  • Continuing to support the COVID-19 response at All Our Kin, a non-profit organization supporting childcare educators who largely serve families of color.
  • Developing robust health supports for childcare educators at All Our Kin.
  • Facilitating focus groups with New Haven Latina mothers to improve the quality of hospital-based care they receive to support their breastfeeding intentions.
  • Supporting the development of communication materials and outreach strategies to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and increase uptake among New Haven youth and adults.
  • Coordinating the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center’s COVID-19 “strategies that work” assessments in New Haven and the Lower Naugatuck Valley.
  • Working with Coordinated Food Access Network and Supporting Wellness at Pantries (SWAP) in New Haven and #GiveHealthy to increase healthy food availability.
  • Supporting the implementation of a virtual Diabetes Prevention Program in New Haven and the evaluation of the New Haven Health Leaders and Community Research Fellows programs.

This program provides students an opportunity to gain valuable public health work experience.

Mayur M. Desai

In addition to the work being conducted with community partners, students are participating in weekly reflection sessions facilitated by Sofia Morales, MPH, Program Manager of Research and Evaluation (CARE) and Marquita Taylor, PhD, Assistant Director, Health Equity Leadership Programs (CARE). These sessions focus on learning more about health equity, the harmful impacts of inequitable practices, community-based participatory approaches, and how to work with communities in a culturally responsive way.

Submitted by Colin Poitras on August 05, 2021