WSU student group seeks changemakers for health equity challenge – [email protected]

Members of the Science Policy Network-Detroit pose for a photo during their recent trip to Washington, DC

DETROIT — UnitedHealthcare (UHC) is partnering with a group of students from Wayne State University to offer $50,000 to individuals and/or groups who come up with creative solutions to Michigan’s most pressing health equity issues.

The Insurance Company and WSU’s Science Policy Network-Detroit (SciPol) are hosting the Health Equity Challenge, which provides an extraordinary opportunity to develop innovative ideas to address health disparities in the community. Winning projects will receive $50,000 to implement their ideas with a community organization, plus additional funding to help with development and implementation.

The application deadline is November 1. The winners will be announced in March at an awards ceremony on the WSU campus. For more information or to apply, visit the Science Policy Network-Detroit website.

“SciPol-Detroit’s core mission is to bridge the gap between science and policy to bring about community-centered policy change for more equitable health and social outcomes,” said Katie Dwyer, Ph.D. student and president of SciPol. “This opportunity is the first of its kind at WSU, where applicants can apply as individuals or as part of a small group to address health disparities through collaborations with community organizations. UnitedHealthcare greatly values ​​the innovative research that takes place on our campus, and we hope to continue this partnership in the future.

According to UHC Director of Population Health Emily Williams, the Health Equity Challenge will also offer applicants unique access to public health experts and mentorship from public health experts. Every Wednesday in October, CHU professionals will lead a one-hour virtual workshop from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“Applicants can use their own connections they may have in the community or, if they have an idea and are a bit stuck and may need an introduction to an organization, UHC may be able to help. help out there,” Williams said. “So during October office hours, if they have a need, we’d be happy to try to help facilitate some introductions or help from a relationship-building perspective.”

The goal of the Equity Challenge is to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities, which is a long-term goal of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“Michigan has been identified as one of the top five states for the highest COVID-19 death rate for Black Americans, signaling the growing need for our state to address and mitigate health disparities. between different demographics,” Dwyer said. “UnitedHealthcare is taking a leadership position in addressing these issues by funding several projects that aim to provide new ideas and approaches to closing the gap in health disparities. Ultimately, we hope the results of the Health Equity Challenge will engage the greater communities of Detroit and Michigan by providing new mechanisms and resources to improve the mental and physical health of residents who have historically been medically disenfranchised. .

Topics and potential projects for the Equity Challenge are open, but could include those that give children a head start – such as improving the health of mothers and babies – or that serve the whole of society. person by coordinating services and reducing opioid and drug-related deaths. Many people at WSU and in the community are already doing great work related to these topics.

“Our goal is to have new and innovative approaches to support health equity and reduce differences in physical and mental health, based on race, language, culture, gender and/or orientation in the state of Michigan,” Williams said. “We would really like individuals to come up with how the idea would also be sustainable in the long term. That has been the challenge in itself with a lot of different approaches. Come up with an idea, but make sure it is sustainable. something that would require a policy change? Are there different partners in the community that can provide support? Or is it a pay-for-success model?

“There are endless possibilities and we’re really looking forward to seeing what people come up with.”

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