Grants awarded to four community-University research teams

Four collaborative teams of Minnesota-based community organizations and University of Minnesota researchers have received funding for their research. They’re the inaugural recipients of the Community Partnership Grant and will receive up to $5,000 for their projects.

The grant program helps cultivate relationships between members of Minnesota-based community organizations and University of Minnesota researchers and lay the groundwork for research collaborations that address health equity topics.


Relationship-building to explore community health needs in African immigrant Muslims in Minnesota

  • Community lead: Adja Kaba, Masjid Al-Ansar Islamic Community Center
  • University lead: Manka Nkimbeng, PhD, MPH, BSN, School of Public Health

This project aims to develop and build the foundation for a collaborative relationship between a racial/ethnic and religious minority immigrant group with researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health to improve the health of African immigrants. With the guidance of the Masjid and other community leaders, a critical needs and assets assessment will be conducted to identify community health priorities for health prevention programs and activities that will be organized into a series of community education workshops.

Hmong Nurses Association Conference

  • Community lead: May Hang, DNP, Hmong Nurse Association
  • University lead: Rozina Bhimani, DNP, PhD, School of Nursing 

This project aims to support self-healing and increase Hmong nurse resiliency by convening a professional conference as a platform for networking and learning more about the legacy of Hmong health and healing; the social-political environment, unconscious bias in healthcare, dismantling healthcare microaggressions; health disparities facing Hmong; challenges of COVID-19; and building the next generation of Hmong nurses. The conference will also serve as a venue to collect Hmong nurses’ stories, insights, and feedback with the potential to develop into a pilot study looking into the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 in the Hmong community and identify culturally appropriate interventions.

Increasing awareness of rare disease among Minnesotans through theater: A collaboration of art and science

  • Community lead: Rae Blaylark, President/CEO, Sickle Cell Foundation of Minnesota
  • University lead: James Cloyd, PharmD, Professor and Director, Center for Orphan Drug Research, College of Pharmacy

This project will use theater as a creative medium to create and perform a play that examines the medical, economic, social, and psychological issues impacting patients with rare diseases and their families. The play’s goals are to raise awareness among Minnesotans about rare disease, offer hope of better diagnoses and new therapies, and alert the rare disease community and other Minnesotans about UMN/Fairview clinical services and the opportunity to participate in clinical studies. 

Fermented vegetables to address nutritional and health inequalities: The gut health nexus

  • Community lead: Rodolfo Gutierrez, Executive Director, Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research (HACER)
  • University lead: Andres Gomez, PhD, College of Food, Agriculture, and Resource Sciences

The goal of this project is to assess the extent to which knowledge about fermented foods, the gut microbiome and health promotes interest about fermented foods as a way to access healthy food choices and prospectively improve (gut) health. By way of a two-day community forum, knowledge will be shared about food justice, the evolution and westernization of our food system, and its effect on health by altering diversity in the gut microbiome. The project will also leverage hands-on and culturally appropriate materials to increase health literacy and engage BIPOC of the Twin Cities in conversations about health promotion and disease prevention.