Office of the

Our mission is to collaboratively tackle complex and systemic health disparities and their root causes.

Mini-Grant Program for Advancing Health Equity

HEI is launching a mini-grant program to support health equity efforts of collaborative, community-engaged partnerships inclusive of academic researchers and community-based organizations. The goal of the mini-grant program is to seed novel research projects that can grow into impactful programs and policies to improve health and well-being in underserved urban Kansas City areas. View the application.

Our Purpose

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UMKC Community Health Research Group (CHRG) Background and Projects

The CHRG is located in the UMKC School of Medicine (SOM) Biomedical and Health Informatics Department. We focus on community-engaged and theoretical approaches to address health inequities, particularly among African-Americans. With NIH and foundation funding, our large-scale intervention studies consist of working collaboratively with our community and health agency partners across the research process to develop, implement and disseminate scalable and sustainable interventions to improve health outcomes. We also train and mentor persons at junior faculty, postdoctoral, doctoral, graduate and undergraduate levels in community research. A brief description of some of our leading projects is below.

TIPS is a NIMH-funded R01 clustered, randomized community trial (RCT) on HIV/STD testing, prevention, and linkage to care in African American churches. The multilevel TIPS intervention is delivered by trained church leaders to church and community members with the support of a religiously-tailored toolkit (e.g., sermon guides, church bulletins, text messages). Our health agency partners provide church-based testing and counseling and linkage to care.

Partners: 14 churches in RCT (N=1,500 participants); 16 churches in 2 pilot studies (N=1,000); SOM and Psych (N= 50 students); KCMO Health Dept.; KU JayDoc Clinic; KC CARE Health Center; and Childrens Mercy KC (CMH)

FIT was developed as a NIMHD-funded multilevel diabetes/CVD prevention intervention in African American churches. Initially implemented in partnership with the YMCA, this project is now delivered in 13 free class sessions by trained UMKC student coaches teamed with church leaders. They facilitate weekly exercise and educational weight loss sessions at the churches. Students also assist with health screenings to track participants’ progress.

Partners: Thus far, 30 churches (N=1,200 participants); SOM, SON, Pharmacy, and Psych (N= 200 students); SOM providers; CMH; and YMCA

Healthy AIMS is a Health Forward Foundation-funded multilevel mental health prevention, screening, and linkage to care (LTC) intervention in African American churches. Church leaders are trained in Mental Health First Aid to be first responders to assist members and deliver the project. Weekly church meditation/yoga classes are held as prevention services.

Partners: 4 churches (N=200 participants); UMKC Comprehensive Counseling Assessment Services doctoral students and Clinical Health Psych faculty; Swope Health Behavioral Services; KC CARE Health Center; and CMH

This Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded project aims to develop and pilot a cross-sectoral (faith, justice, health, schools) intervention to enhance resilience among youth exposed to violence. Our Building Bonds Youth Community Action Board includes cross-sectoral stakeholders to assist in the design of study phases and the resulting intervention.

Partners: Youth Ambassadors (N=300 youth); CMH; Emory University

Project Grace is funded by NIA and the KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center (ADC) to increase dementia screening and linkage to care with older adults in African American churches. Church leaders are trained to deliver the intervention via church outlets. Church-based screening will be provided and KU ADC will provide linkage to car and follow-up services.

Partners: 4 churches (N=200 participants); UMKC Psychology Dept; KU ADC

This study will evaluate the impact of the historic launch of the citywide free Kanas City bus system on the health of Kanas Citians, primarily those who live in low-income neighborhoods. We will assess the impact of the ZBT on physical activity, diabetes-related health outcomes, and social determinants (e.g., health care access, jobs, crime).

Partners: CMH, KC Public Works, KC ATA, KC Health Department

The KC FAITH Initiative Community Action Board (CAB) was formalized with NIHMD funding. The CAB prioritizes health issues to address in African American communities using health needs assessments, local data, and CAB members’ experiential knowledge and contributes to all phases of the research phases. Coordinated with Calvary Community Outreach Network, the CAB includes persons from KC faith, health, community, and research organizations with over 30 members in attendance.