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Amid Calls for Social Justice, MN Grants Focus on Health Equity

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Minnesotans calling for greater health equity say the pandemic has brought disparities to light, and hope awareness will create better outcomes for communities of color. (Adobe Stock)
Minnesotans calling for greater health equity say the pandemic has brought disparities to light, and hope awareness will create better outcomes for communities of color. (Adobe Stock)
November 30, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- Six months have passed since the police killing of George Floyd, and people calling for social justice hope the movement doesn't fade away.

In Minnesota, one organization is working to fund projects to improve health equity, for people of color and women.

The American Heart Association is awarding grants to Minnesota women who are social entrepreneurs with a strong interest in closing the gaps in health outcomes.

It also created a $1 million fund to invest in community-led solutions to health disparities in under-served areas.

LaTrisha Vetaw, health policy and advocacy manager for the NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, applauds the efforts.

"We're way behind on women's health," Vetaw contended. "We need to do so much more of that, particularly in communities of color. I mean, there's very little to go by for women of color. And the more we get, the more we know how to treat these things and know how to spend the money."

She added women often put family members' health needs ahead of their own, and don't have as much access to female physicians.

Vetaw observed since George Floyd's death, the focus has been on police accountability, while other social-justice issues also need attention.

The deadline for entrepreneur grants is Dec. 15. Applications for social-impact funds are being accepted through mid-January.

Holly Messick, executive director of the American Heart Association of Minnesota, said the organization acknowledges some of its past focus hasn't resulted in equal outcomes. She feels the new approach could have better results.

"Really took a hard look at, we weren't helping to save lives equitably across ZIP code," Messick explained. "And so, these two programs have been launched in different parts of the country, and seen some really incredible work come out of them. And we're really proud to be launching both of them here."

She reported various studies and benchmarks have shown Minnesota has some of the worst racial disparities in the country.

The highest amount for entrepreneur grants is $15,000. For the social-impact fund, a virtual town hall will be held Dec. 9, so people from marginalized communities can convey where the needs are.

Disclosure: American Heart Association of Minnesota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, and Smoking Prevention. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN