News Center for Community Health Partnership & Research

Center awards seed funding to two community-academic projects centering on racial equity

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health

Through its Pitch Partners² funding mechanism, and Community Partnership Support Funding program, the Center for Community Health Partnership and Research is pleased to announce seed funding for two community-academic partnerships that center on achieving racial equity.

The awards stem from a fall 2023 Pitch Partners event held in collaboration with Institute of Clinical & Translational Sciences with additional support from the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity. At Pitch Partners, community members, organizations, researchers and faculty teams present a five-minute “pitch” on health-related projects (in this case, projects centering racial equity). At the event, pitch teams identify potential partners and receive critical feedback. Select teams are invited to apply for a rapid seed funding opportunity that nurtures and develops community-academic partnerships.

The following project received a Pitch Partners² award:

Project: Understanding the Needs of Immigrant Mental Health Workers in St. Louis to Enhance Culturally Responsive Mental Health Care

Primary Investigator/Project Team: Julia López, PhD, MPH, LCSW, WashU assistant professor of medicine, Provident Behavioral Health and the Immigrant Service Providers Network 

Summary: While mental health is losing its stigma for many U.S. citizens, immigrants often struggle. Poverty makes immigrants more vulnerable to mental health problems, but the cost of services and lack of insurance only exacerbates their stress and burdens. This project’s main goal is to help improve the access to quality and culturally responsive mental health care for immigrant communities in St. Louis through informing and strengthening the mental health workforce.

The following project received Community Partnership Support Funding, which provides funding for partnership development activities, with the goal of later completing the project together:

Project: The Doula Lab

Primary Investigator/Project Team: Tyriesa Howard Howell, PhD, assistant professor, Brown School; Doula Bean Maternal Care; and the St. Louis Community Health Workers Coalition

Summary: Studies show that doula-assisted mothers are four times less likely to have a low-birth-weight baby, two times less likely to experience a birth complication involving themselves or their baby, and significantly more likely to initiate breastfeeding. The Doula Lab is a community pregnancy resource center that provides space for birth workers to serve their expecting families in a safe environment fully equipped with educational tools to provide pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, newborn care, breast feeding and meetings with certified Doulas and lactation consultants. The Doula Lab Project will conduct a community needs assessment, design, create and distribute program materials, gather preliminary data, and conduct an evaluation of the program’s outcomes to inform future work in this area. Participant materials and resources along with marketing and promotional materials for The Doula Lab project will be purchased.