August 23, 2021

Monday, August 23, 2021

National Project Focused on Vaccine Equity Coming to Flint

The Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF), in partnership with Michigan State University (MSU) and the Michigan Public Health Institute, is engaging in a new collaborative effort to promote COVID-19 vaccine knowledge and increase vaccination rates in Flint.

The National Network to Innovate for COVID-19 and Adult Vaccine Equity, or NNICE project, seeks to address the barriers preventing people of color from getting a COVID-19 vaccine. The project is funded in part by a $6 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to MSU.

Flint is among a few communities in the country selected for this project. NNICE is working in five areas across the country, including Chicago, eastern North Carolina and Baltimore. NNICE will partner with local organizations to develop media campaigns and other methods to promote vaccination and share information about vaccines and COVID-19.

In partnership with MSU, CFGF is administering $900,000 in funding from the CDC for a year of research on solutions to increase adult vaccination.

“We will be working with our grantee partners to amplify current vaccine outreach efforts,” Isaiah M. Oliver, CFGF president and CEO and CMF trustee said. “The focus is on adult vaccinations, particularly the COVID-19 vaccine, for ages 50 and younger to ensure a safer, healthier community.”

The NNICE project is led by Dr. Debra Furr-Holden, the associate dean for Public Health Integration at MSU’s College of Human Medicine. Furr-Holden was a previous appointee to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities and serves as the director of the Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions, funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

"African American adults are vaccinated at lower rates compared to other populations," Furr-Holden said in a press release. "We want to better understand why and address the structural inequities that are driving these disparities."

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, roughly 50% of Michiganders have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of August 18. However, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Black Michiganders make up only 10% of the state’s fully vaccinated population while accounting for 23% of the state’s deaths from COVID-related complications.

NNICE researchers hope to address the barriers facing Black Michiganders in getting vaccinated.

"The goal of the grant is to boost COVID-19 and other adult vaccine literacy, confidence, access and receipt," Furr-Holden said. "We will implement innovative strategies with communities as equitable partners in the work and engage multiple sectors of society."

CFGF will work with organizations in the Flint area to promote vaccinations among Black residents. Current organizational partners include NAACP, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the National Medical Association.

"We will implement community-driven interventions that make a real difference in these communities and build an evidence base for innovative strategies moving forward," Furr-Holden said. "People are getting sick and dying in the face of viable public health solutions. The time to act is now."

Want more?

Read more about NNICE.

Learn about CFGF’s other COVID-related work.

View the Michigan COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.



Embedding Equity in Scholarship Programs

Many in our CMF community support pathways to higher education, especially through scholarship programs. These programs can vary by foundation type, donor intent, community need and more. As we look ahead to a new school year, how can philanthropy ensure equity is embedded in the design and implementation of scholarship programs?

Last week CMF co-hosted a conversation through our Midwest Community Foundation Webinar Series, exploring how community foundations are strategically designing their scholarship programs with a focus on equity and attainment. The session, facilitated by Colette Hadley, the National College Attainment Network’s (NCAN) director of consulting services and Liz Newman, senior community engagement associate for the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, walked through the barriers students can face when applying for scholarships and how community foundations are reimagining their scholarship programs to reduce those barriers and encourage more students to apply.

According to Hadley, on average, private and employer funds—including scholarships—make up 13% of a student’s financial aid for college, meaning that these funds can make or break a student’s ability to attend college. Students whose families make $106,000 a year or more tend to earn 13% of all private scholarships, while students whose families make less than $30,000 a year only earn 9%.

Application requirements such as GPA, test scores and participation in activities or competitions can be a barrier for students to apply and/or be selected to receive scholarship dollars.

To shift scholarship programs towards equity for all students, Hadley and Newman suggest foundations take the following into consideration when designing and implementing scholarship programs:

  • Understanding the college prep, degree completion and economic data. This includes student characteristics, demographics, readiness, regional workforce trends, available student support services, providers and scholarship programs. This data helps show which students can be most impacted through scholarship programs based on economic and demographic trends.

  • Assessing the foundation’s current scholarship program. Foundations should analyze their scholarship application processes to identify key barriers preventing students from applying. Furthermore, foundations should assess their outreach, messaging, platforms, requirements, scholarship amounts and other factors to maximize impact for students and to minimize hurdles for applicants.

  • Educating and informing current and prospective donors. Hadley and Newman encourage community foundations to work with donors to ensure the requirements they set up for scholarship funds are accessible to a wide range of students. This can help donors learn about community needs and how more accessible scholarship application processes can benefit more students who face barriers to college access and attainment, as well as those creating more impact in their communities.

  • Effectively measuring and reporting the impact of the scholarship program. By analyzing graduation rates, the average financial aid packages local students get and scholarship attainment rates, foundations can show donors where funds are most needed and where their donations can have a greater impact.

“These types of programs will help you engage with donors by showing them the opportunity gaps in your communities and to maximize their return on investment by showing that the impact on low-income students is much greater,” Newman said. “If the foundation’s goal is to increase college attainment, then more resources need to go to low-income students who are college-ready but so often left out of the scholarship pools.”

One example from our CMF community is the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation’s (AAACF) scholarship program which “provides economically disadvantaged, youth of color, and first-generation college students with financial assistance and holistic support as they transition to college and navigate their way toward degree attainment.”

Established in 2016, the Community Scholarship Program (CSP) is a partnership between AAACF, local school districts and local colleges and universities to not only provide scholarship funds (a maximum of $20,000 dispersed over up to five years) but also emergency financial aid and funding if needed and a college success coach to ensure students have the means for academic success.

Since its founding, the program has given over $1.5 million in scholarships to 73 CSP scholars, most of whom identify as students of color, students from lower economic backgrounds and first-generation college students.

“[CSP] gives students a chance to have access to means of support that many of these students would not have access to, whether its financial, social or the cultural aspect that comes along with being a college student,” Kendra Agee, a CSP college success coach said. “Having that level of access for students who are first-generation, students of color, or from low socio-economic backgrounds is very imperative to their overall success.”

Want more?

Watch the webinar: Strategically Designing Community Foundation Scholarship Programs for a Focus on Equity and Attainment.

Learn more about AAACF’s Community Scholarship Program.

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