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Two Projects Addressing the Impact of Racism on Health Receive Funding From the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation

NEW YORK, Oct. 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation (RAHF) today announced the selection of two grantees for its 2021 Hillman Innovations in Care (HIC): Racism and Health Program. Representing leading edge, nursing-driven efforts to address the impact of racism on health, the work of this year’s grant recipients will target inequities in postpartum care for birthing people of color, and the effects of historical trauma and discrimination on the mental health of Native American youth. The grants, totaling $1.2 million, are being awarded to Community of Hope in Washington, D.C., and to the University of Texas at Austin.

The 2021 HIC grant award winners were chosen from a strong field of more than 150 applicants. From this initial pool, a BIPOC-majority Review Committee, comprised of leading nurse researchers, undertook an exhaustive evaluation of 11 finalists that culminated in the selection of this year’s grantees.

“Nursing has a venerable history of addressing inequities in care,” said Ahrin Mishan, Executive Director of the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation. “Building on that tradition, and with an intimate knowledge of the communities they serve, this year’s grantees are uniquely positioned to mitigate the impact of racism on health.”

Supporting Native American Youth Mental Health Well-Being
The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and local education officials will work with Native American nurse scientists to implement the Talking Circle intervention in the Robeson County school system. The Talking Circle, guided by the Native Reliance theoretical framework developed by Co-Principal Investigator Dr. John Lowe, has been proven to enhance youth well-being, and promote a sense of belonging, cultural identity, and the reduction of substance use and associated health risk behaviors among various Native American and other Indigenous populations. Integrating this program throughout all of Robeson County’s 36 schools will transform how local educational institutions address the impact of historical trauma, racism, and marginalization on the mental health well-being of Native American students. The system-wide application of the Talking Circle is the first of its kind and could have important ramifications for addressing the mental health well-being of other BIPOC youth.

"Racism and the effects of intergenerational trauma have long contributed to poor health outcomes among Native American populations,” said Heather M. Young, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Dean Emerita of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, and chair of this year’s HIC Review Committee. “Designed by Native American nurse scientists for Native American youth, Talking Circle is an exemplar of community-centered care.” 

Principal Investigators: John Lowe, RN, PhD, FAAN, of The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing (Cherokee); with Jada Brooks, PhD, MPSH, RN, FAAN (Lumbee); and Eugenia Millender, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, CDE (Kuna).

Promoting the Postpartum Health and Wellbeing of Families Experiencing Racism
Community of Hope and Georgetown University will partner to expand an innovative maternal health program that dramatically reimagines postpartum care. Challenging conventional services that offer a single visit at 6-8 weeks post-delivery, Community of Hope offers a 12-month comprehensive plan that incorporates racially and culturally congruent care, home visitation, case management, and family focus groups for birthing people of color living in Washington, D.C. Building on a long history of successful community engagement and early evidence demonstrating improved perinatal outcomes, Community of Hope is well positioned to scale this work to other parts of the nation’s capital and beyond.

“The expansion of racially and culturally congruent postpartum care is one key to addressing a maternal mortality crisis that disproportionately affects birthing people of color,” said Monica R. McLemore, RN, MPH, PhD, FAAN, Associate Professor at University of California San Francisco, an authority on health equity, and a member of this year’s HIC Review Committee. “Community of Hope represents a bold, evidence-based approach that holds enormous promise for broader dissemination.”

Principal Investigators: Ebony Marcelle, MS, RN, CNM, FAANM, Community of Hope; and Christina Marea, PhD, MA, MSN, RN, CNM, School of Nursing and Health Studies, Georgetown University.

For full details on the HIC program, please click here.  

The Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of all patients, families, and communities through nursing-driven innovation. To this end, the Foundation cultivates nurse leaders and promotes new models of care focused on strengthening health outcomes, and delivering care that is trustworthy, accessible, and equitable. For more information, please visit

Media Contact
Takouhi Mosoian, the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation ([email protected])

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