UCLA Center for Health Policy Research is leading the Health Equity Challenge, in collaboration with The MolinaCares Accord

New student competition invites innovative community-based ideas to improve health equity in California.

Many students are imagining a future where they can change the world, often starting with their local community. For those with a vision of improving health equity, a new competition from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR) conducted in collaboration with MolinaCares will provide that opportunity in 2022 — the Health Equity Challenge.

The last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have shone a light on significant inequities in many aspects of health: insurance coverage and affordability, social determinants of health, and structural barriers to high-quality care. With the signs of inequity more obvious than ever, the increased focus has also spurred ideas from those who are closest to the problems.

Beginning on January 10, 2022, UCLA graduate students are invited to propose solutions that community-based organizations (CBOs) can implement. The Health Equity Challenge imagines a better world with improved health for all. Students will be encouraged to turn their ideas into full proposals and, for two winners and their community partners, funded projects.

“We know students can bring new insights and ideas to address some of our most pressing challenges,” said Kathryn Kietzman, PhD, project lead and director of the UCLA CHPR Health Equity Program. “With support from mentors across the university and California public health community, students will fully develop their ideas and have the chance to turn these ideas into action. We’re very excited to get to work with UCLA students in this way and give them a unique opportunity to make an impact on issues they care about.”

“MolinaCares understands from our work across California and across the country that health disparities are widespread and require ongoing resources and solutions to resolve. We are excited to partner with UCLA to invest in the public health leaders of tomorrow and spur creative thinking on how to solve persistent issues faced by vulnerable communities across California,” said Abbie Totten, Plan President of Molina Healthcare of California.

The competition will have two rounds. Starting in January 2022, UCLA graduate students are invited to complete a two-page application outlining an intervention that could be executed by a local CBO to address a health inequity in the greater Los Angeles area or other California community in need. Proposals can span direct interventions, program development, policy changes, or other innovative ideas. Concept proposals are welcome from many disciplines that intersect with health including policy, education, law, urban planning and others. Ten students will be selected by an Independent Review Committee to participate in round two.

The 10 students selected for the second round will receive a $2,500 stipend and 10 weeks of mentorship to help identify community partners and develop a full project proposal on their community-based solution to the identified Health Equity Challenge. Projects must be feasible and have measurable outcomes to improve an identified community health issue.

Two final proposals will be selected by the Independent Review Committee and two associated CBOs will receive funding of up to $50,000 for implementation. The winning students will receive an additional $2,500 stipend to continue documenting the impact of the project’s implementation.

Apply for the Health Equity Challenge

Key Dates

Phase 1 applications due:
February 14, 2022

Phase 1 winners notified:
March 8, 2022

Mentored proposal development: March 28–June 10, 2022

Final Health Equity Challenge awards announced: Late June 2022

Have questions? Contact us.