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Population Health Services Manager Randi Towns leads a UNC Health Alliance team at a mobile health clinic providing COVID-19 testing and related services to the community on August 21, 2020 in Raleigh, NC on the campus of St. Augustine’s University, a community partner in providing the valuable services.
Randi Towns oversees staff at a UNC Health mobile clinic site. (Photo by Jeyhoun Allebaugh/UNC-Chapel Hill).

UNC Health and the UNC School of Medicine are committed to health equity for all. In an effort to identify and address systemic disparities that have prevented equitable access to healthcare in the past, a number of new and existing funds have been created and highlighted to increase support for this vital need in our communities and across our state.

In addition to other initiatives such as the School of Medicine’s STAHR program and the recently announced MED EXCEL program, these funds will impact students, faculty and staff in Chapel Hill and across the UNC Health system.

“We are focused on decreasing health disparities and increasing health equity,” said Nate Thomas, PhD, Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the School of Medicine. “That starts with moving forward with a framework for training our students, faculty and staff and infusing social justice into all aspects of the School of Medicine experience.”

Bolstered by the leadership of Thomas and Crystal Cené, MD, MPH, FAHA, System Executive Director for Health Equity, as well as working groups such as UNC Health’s Black Alliance Employee Resource Group, the critical mission of equity and inclusion for all can become a reality in our state.

“Philanthropy is critical with my work around health equity because it takes a village,” said Cené. “This is not my work, not the work of any one person – it takes all of us, all sectors of society. From clinicians to educators to everyday citizens, everyone has to play a role in addressing this. Philanthropy to me says, ‘we’re all in this together.’”

The funds listed below address the systemic disparities in health care through four key avenues – scholarships and student opportunity, patient care and community enrichment, professional development, and research.

SCHOLARSHIPS/STUDENT OPPORTUNITY – These funds and scholarships are aimed at providing new and enhanced opportunities for students of color while also allowing the School of Medicine to more effectively recruit students to underrepresented programs such as physical and occupational therapy, speech language pathology and pediatrics.

Diversity Scholarship in Physical Therapy Fund
Diversity Scholarship in Speech Language Pathology Fund
Increasing Diversity in Occupational Science and Therapy Scholarship
Underrepresented Minority Recruitment Program – Pediatric Education
Fordham Diversity in Health Professions

PATIENT CARE/COMMUNITY ENRICHMENT – These funds will support health equity strategic initiatives across the UNC Health system. Of particular focus initially will be the opportunity to provide food, nutrition education and wellness information to patients and their families who might otherwise go without.

UNC Health – Health Equity Fund
UNC Hospitals Food Initiative Fund
Wade’s Army Nutrition Education Fund
Wren de St. Aubin Family Fund for Rural Health Initiatives

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT – These funds are designed to increase the diversity of minority students into programs such as the diagnostic and therapeutic disciplines of Allied Health Sciences as well supporting faculty diversity leadership.

Thorpe/Mitchell Diversity Leadership Development Endowed Fund
Fordham Diversity in Health Professions

RESEARCH – The mission of the Center for Health Equity Research (CHER) is to bring together collaborative, multidisciplinary teams of scholars and community members to improve health and healthcare in underserved communities through a shared commitment to equity, innovation and translational research.

Center for Health Equity Research Gift Fund

For more information on how to support diversity, equity and inclusion at UNC Health and the UNC School of Medicine, contact Kathryn Hunter, Associate Director of Development, or Martin Baucom, Vice President for Development.

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