Volunteer nurse checks smiling patient's blood pressure

Three University-community grantee teams to address local health equity

The Community Engagement to Advance Research and Community Health (CEARCH) office has named three new collaborative teams as recipients of the Community Partnership Grant

This 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. Grantees have received up to $5,000 in funding.

Funded projects

Understanding the factors affecting the whole-person health of the migrant farmworker community in southern Minnesota

  • Community PI: Shelly Goddard, Health Services Specialist, Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc
  • University PI: Shahid Jaffer, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota Medical School 

The project aims to improve health equity for the migrant farmworker community in Southern Minnesota. This community travels between Texas and Minnesota following the harvests, and as a result, face a unique set of circumstances which affects their ability to consistently access healthcare, education, and social services resources. Additionally, most of this community is undocumented, which leads to even more challenges with respect to accessing resources. 

Over the past several years, in conjunction with the Tri-valley Opportunity Council (TVOC), the UMN Mobile Health Initiative has held health events in Owatonna and Elgin specifically for this community. A variety of interventions are offered such as A1C/BP screenings, medical exams, dental care, and immunizations.  

While important, interventions thus far have focused solely on physical health, and have not yet begun to analyze the social determinants of health for this community. In the hopes of improving the quality and relevance of interventions offered at future health fairs, the research team hopes that attaining a more holistic understanding of this community's strengths and needs will help us tailor future efforts accordingly.

University and Environmental Community Organization Relationship Building Summit 2023

  • Community PI: Kathy Knudson, Co-chair, SECIA Environment Committee, Southeast Como Improvement Association 
  • University PI: Kat Cantner, Continental Scientific Drilling Facility Science and Outreach Coordinator, UMN College of Science and Engineering

The project seeks to improve racial and health equity in the Twin Cities by building relationships between UMN researchers and environmental community organizations working to address contamination, pollution, and urban food production. 

The team plans to host a one-day summit between these community organizations and UMN environmental and health scientists to build awareness, understanding, and capacity for community-centered research and engagement. 

The team hopes to build meaningful relationships between UMN researchers and Twin Cities communities experiencing health inequity and marginalization within the sciences. From these relationships, they hope to foster environmental and health research in support of the participating community's priorities for improving their environment, health, and self-determination.

A theatrical dialogue on healthcare and homelessness

  • Community PI:  Maren Ward, Executive Director, zAmya Theater Project 
  • University PI: Aarti Bhatt, MD, Assistant Professor, UMN Medical School

The partners will bring together health workers and people with lived experiences of homelessness to identify disparities and develop co-created solutions through their collaboratively created theatrical presentation and dialogue: “Locked In: A Theatrical Dialogue on Healthcare and Homelessness.”  

The play will interrupt and redress the harm that frequently happens when health workers/systems interact with people experiencing homelessness. The work deliberately names racism, classism, and ableism in healthcare using humor and storytelling.  

“Locked In” is a Forum Theater play. Forum is a branch of the Theatre of the Oppressed (TO), a theatrical tradition with a long theoretical and pragmatic history of "rehearsing for the revolution". TO — a methodology developed by Brazilian practitioner Augusto Boal who was inspired by his mentor and colleague Paolo Freire — believes that solutions are best formed by those experiencing the problem.