CPH awards mini-grants to students for community projects

New experiential learning program builds community connections, research skills

The University of Georgia College of Public Health has awarded mini-grants to four student-led community outreach projects focused on addressing health disparities in Athens-Clarke County.

Nearly $3,400 in funding was distributed for the projects through a new experiential learning program called Community Mini-Grants for Inclusion, Research, and Engagement, launched in Fall 2018 by the College faculty’s Diversity Committee.

The program, explained Diversity Committee member Sarah DeYoung, allows students to gain experience in grant proposal writing.  This includes identifying a problem or need, thinking through the logistics of research design, identifying and developing stakeholders in the community, and mapping out ways to implement research and outreach.

To kick off the program, interested CPH students and faculty were invited to attend a brainstorming session in October aimed at teambuilding and generating project ideas focused on improving the health of under-represented, minority populations in Athens-Clarke County.

“Clarke County has many diverse communities. One of the core problems these communities have in common is lack of access to key resources such as adequate housing, food, and healthcare. These barriers to access are often caused by discrimination and income inequality,” DeYoung said.

Thirty-four percent of Athens-Clarke County residents live below the poverty level, marking Clarke one of the poorest counties in the nation, according to the  U.S. Census Bureau.

Through these projects, CPH students will build their research skills but contribute to larger efforts aimed at helping the community of Athens thrive.

“[CPH] students can serve as a resource for community organizations,” DeYoung said. “And community-based organizations can teach new skills to the students.”

The four winning teams, each led by a faculty mentor, were announced in January 2019. Their projects will help connect Medicaid-insured patients connect to health care providers, engage young fathers’ support in breastfeeding practices, explore the benefits school-based health centers and improve lead contamination monitoring in ACC schools .

Projects will be carried out January through March with results to be presented in a special session on April 18 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Wright Hall Annex on the UGA Health Sciences Campus. For participating MPH students, these projects will be eligible for consideration as their capstone.

Funding for the mini-grants was provided by the CPH Dean’s Office and the College’s Department of Health Promotion and Behavior

The 2019 CPH Community Mini-Grant awardees are:

  • Engaging and Promoting Young and First-Time Fathers’ Support in Breastfeeding Practices
    • Derek Coger – MPH candidate, epidemiology
    • Kennicia Fortson – MPH/MSW candidate, health promotion
    • Marcus Dumas – Ph.D. candidate, health promotion
    • Shantesica Gilliam – Ph.D. candidate, health promotion
    • Victoria Jackson – MPH candidate, health promotion and behavior
    • Erica Taylor – Ph.D. candidate, health promotion
    • Faculty Mentor – Tamora Callands, health promotion and behavior
  • Examination of Lead Contamination in Elementary Schools in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia
    • Devan Campbell – Ph.D. candidate, environmental health
    • Kristin Ingmundson – MPH candidate, environmental health
    • Harris Jamal – MPH candidate, environmental health
    • Megan Lott – Ph.D. candidate, environmental health
    • Faculty Mentor – Marsha Black, environmental health science
  • Student Health and the Need for School-Based Health Centers in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia
    • Michelle Bardgett – MPH candidate, health policy and management
    • Valerie E. Kimbrough – MPH candidate, gerontology
    • Michael Bien – MPH candidate, health promotion and behavior
    • Nicholas Mallis – MPH candidate, epidemiology
    • Faculty Mentor – Justin Ingels, health policy & management
  • Athens-Clarke County Utilization of Medicaid Inclusion and Engagement
    • Dana Alvin – MPH candidate, health policy and management
    • Will Chase – MPH candidate, health policy and management
    • Nahyo Jalajel- Nahyo – MPH candidate, health policy and management
    • Devynn Sharpe – MPH candidate, health policy and management
    • Marie Smith – MPH candidate, epidemiology & health policy and management
    • Faculty Mentor – Grace Bagwell Adams, health policy and management

Photo (left to right): Environmental health graduate students Harris Jamal, Kris Ingmundson, Megan Lott, and Devan Campbell were awarded a Community Mini-Grant for Inclusion, Research, and Engagement by the UGA College of Public Health. Their proposal is focused on testing for lead in drinking water at elementary schools in Athens-Clarke County.

– Rebecca Ayer

Posted on March 4, 2019.

Additional coverage at ASPPH Friday Letter.