2023 marks the second year of the Health Equity Challenge. Last year’s winners were Angelica Johnsen and Alma Lopez, whose respective projects were a de-escalation toolkit for medical providers working with patients experiencing a mental health crisis, and an intervention program to improve the quality of maternal mental health care for mothers of color in South Los Angeles. Each of their community partners were awarded $50,000 to fund and implement their proposals.
The 2023 Health Equity Challenge finalists’ projects will tackle health inequities among communities facing significant barriers to care such as immigrants who are undocumented, low-income communities, people experiencing homelessness, and Indigenous communities. Proposed solutions include trauma-informed yoga services for victims of domestic and sexual violence, extreme heat trainings and toolkits for caregivers of older adults and people with chronic conditions, and expanding access to sun protective measures for people experiencing homelessness.
“I believe that in order to achieve health equity, we must reshape our systems to actively invest in — and not just intervene on — the health and financial well-being of our communities,” said Patrick Liu, Health Equity Challenge finalist and MD and PhD dual candidate at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “My hope is that through the Health Equity Challenge, we can begin to build stronger bridges to evidence-based approaches that directly address poverty as a cause of health inequity for families in Los Angeles.”
“The proposals from finalists are all creative and practical solutions to serious inequities in health care and public health,” said Kara Carter, senior vice president of strategy and programs for the California Health Care Foundation. “Beyond the projects themselves, it is incredibly exciting to imagine what these students will accomplish over the course of their careers.”
Each student finalist will be awarded $2,500 and will be paired with a mentor to develop a project proposal over 15 weeks. Each student’s goal is to identify a community partner that will implement their proposal idea to address a specific health equity issue. At the end of the project, an independent review committee will review the proposals: Up to four student winners will be selected and their community partners will receive $50,000 each to implement the project. The winning students will receive an additional $2,500 to continue to document the progress and impact of their project’s implementation.
The 14 graduate student finalists are: