HomeCollege of Health & Human ServicesCDC Awards $3.4 Million Grant to SCSU's CARE Initiative for Expansion of...

CDC Awards $3.4 Million Grant to SCSU’s CARE Initiative for Expansion of Local Health Equity Programs

Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) has achieved a significant milestone in its mission to address health disparities in New Haven. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded a 5-year, $3.4 million grant to the university’s Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) for the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program. This marks the second consecutive grant for CARE, following the initial REACH grant from 2018-2023.

“Over the next five years, we remain just as dedicated to advancing health equity and reducing racial and ethnic health disparities in our community,” said Alycia Santilli, director of CARE.

“As we reflect on our achievements from 2018-2023, we’re eager to continue our strong collaborations with community partners on urgent needs such as nutrition, breastfeeding, and physical activity through innovative policy and systems change.”

CARE plans to allocate substantial funds to community partners through 2028.

Since its inception in 2018, the grant implementation by CARE has fostered impactful collaborations. By teaming up with local food pantries and City Seed’s food business accelerator, CARE has significantly enhanced the accessibility of nutritious food options. Moreover, CARE has spearheaded campaigns advocating breastfeeding equity, amplifying awareness, and establishing robust support systems for new mothers. In a strategic alliance with the City of New Haven, CARE supported the crafting of a comprehensive blueprint for advancing pedestrian, cyclist, and transit infrastructure in the city, ensuring sustainable development for years to come.

“Over the last five years, CARE has demonstrated exceptional dedication and effectiveness in addressing health disparities within our community. Despite operating with limited resources, the impact of their initiatives has been profound,” said Sandra Bulmer, dean of Southern’s College of Health and Human Services. “However, the needs of our neighbors persist, and we recognize the urgency of continued support. With this funding, we can further strengthen our efforts and extend our reach, ensuring that our mission of improving lives remains at the forefront of Southern’s commitment to the community.” 

“I am energized to see Southern fulfilling its mission to our community,” said Dr. Dwayne Smith, interim president of Southern. “I extend my gratitude to Sandra Bulmer, dean of Southern’s College of Health and Human Services; Alycia Santilli, director of CARE; and our partners at Yale for entrusting us to carry out this crucial work.”

Susan Harris, a REACH Steering Committee member and representative from Witnesses to Hunger and New Haven Coordinated Food Assistance Network, emphasizes the significance of providing fresh fruits and vegetables to individuals facing financial constraints. Harris believes that making healthy, nutritious food accessible at little or no cost is instrumental in preventing long-term health issues, particularly in neighborhoods where healthcare accessibility may be challenging.

“Through the REACH grant, CARE has introduced several projects to improve the health and well-being of low-income and food-insecure neighborhoods. SWAP has provided pantries greater access to more healthy and nutritious foods,” Harris said. “As a member of CFAN, I see the importance of continuing and widening the network of food pantries in New Haven.” 

Stanley Bernard, chair of the Department of Public Health at Southern is excited about the renewal of the REACH grant and sees great opportunity for it. 

“This gives us the opportunity to continue enhancing public health in communities here in New Haven and the state. Coupled with new contracts coming in from the CT Department of Public Health and the Yale School of Medicine, we have a revitalized obligation to ensure equitable, healthy, and thriving communities for all,” Bernard said. 

Through the CARE initiative, SCSU demonstrates its unwavering commitment to advancing social justice. 

For more information on CARE, visit https://www.carenhv.org/.

For more information see:

“New Haven gets $3.4 million to expand access to food, become more ‘breastfeeding friendly'”(Mark Zaresky, New Haven Register, Feb. 23, 2024).

“Feds Grant City $3.4M For Health Equity” (Laura Glesby, New Haven Independent, Feb. 23, 2024).

CARE Program awarded $3.4M to fight health inequities in New Haven” (Kyle Jones, NBC CT, Feb. 24, 2024).


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