HHI receives $1M grant for vaccination efforts

Grants were awarded to nonprofit organizations with programs to sustain a public health workforce to respond to COVID-19 and increase COVID-19 vaccine access.

LENEXA, Kan. – Heart to Heart International (HHI) was awarded a $1 million grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the primary federal agency for improving healthcare to people who are geographically isolated and/or economically or medically vulnerable.

The grant will fund the organization’s new program, Vaccine Outreach and Education Project, established to sustain a COVID-19 public health workforce including mobilizing community outreach workers, educating the public and assisting individuals in accessing and receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. Specifically, these HRSA grants were targeting programs that addressed persistent health disparities for vulnerable and medically underserved communities, including racial and ethnic minority groups and individuals living in areas of high social vulnerability.

“We’re honored to be a recipient of this funding. Our project is founded on our long-standing partnerships with trusted leaders in our community who’ve come together to address the negative effects of the pandemic,” said Heart to Heart International CEO Kim Carroll.

The grant focused on providing funding to local and/or regional community-based organizations and allowed individual organizations to partner to expand capabilities and complete a more comprehensive program. HHI partners include: JUNTOS, KC Digital, University of Kansas Medical Center, Urban League of Greater Kansas City and Community Health Council of Wyandotte County.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, HHI partnered with Dr. Kevin Sykes from the University of Kansas Medical Center to study the efficacy of COVID-19 and education approaches to vulnerable communities. This included a concerted effort with the Kansas City Metro LatinX community to work with community leaders as cultural brokers to promote COVID-19 testing and secure leadership support. When the vaccines were developed, similar programs were developed and expanded throughout the metropolitan area providing more than 4,000 vaccines in less than 6 months.

In the future, HHI’s COVID-19 community-based outreach will focus on dissemination of a multi-cultural educational and advertising campaign specifically targeting vaccine hesitancy; vaccination clinics throughout targeted neighborhoods of Greater Kansas City; community informational and training sessions, mobile clinics, working with families to vaccinate those younger than 12 when that vaccine is approved and more.

“This project will be successful because of our proven track record of collaborating with the partners that we’ve assembled for this project,” said Tena Tiruneh, HHI programs director. “We understand that communication and defending against misinformation must be a part of our campaigns. We also recognize that finding trusted community leaders from within each of our communities is key for disseminating our messaging.”

Heart to Heart International will begin its Vaccine Outreach and Education Project September 2021.

Headquartered in Lenexa, Kan., Heart to Heart International (HHI) is a global humanitarian organization focused on improving access to health. Since its inception in 1992, HHI has delivered medical aid and supplies worth $2 billion to more than 130 countries, including within the United States. HHI responds to natural disasters both domestically and internationally by supplying medical relief and mobilizing volunteers. The organization is a 4-star Charity Navigator charity, a BBB Accredited charity and is on the “Philanthropy 400.” To learn more, visit hearttoheart.org

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