UCSF community partnership council awards public health grants

By Kirsten Michener

The UCSF University Community Partnerships Council has announced its first annual grants awards, totaling $166,055, to 12 San Francisco-based public-health community organizations.

The goal of the program is to improve public health and decrease health disparities within San Francisco. All of the grant recipient organizations have active volunteer participation by a member of the UCSF faculty, staff, or student body.

“UCSF benefits greatly from being part of the vibrant and diverse San Francisco community. Our students, faculty, and staff have much to offer to these neighborhood groups, as well,” says Eugene Washington, MD, UCSF executive vice chancellor and provost, who was instrumental in forming the partnerships program.

“We are very pleased to support projects that strengthen partnerships between UCSF and the San Francisco community, with the ultimate goal of improving public health.”

The grant recipient programs address such issues as health education in Bayview Hunters Point, human trafficking in San Francisco and awareness among subsistence fishermen about the dangers of contaminated fish.

## Grant to Promote Healthy Lifestyles Among Filipino Population

One program, the “Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Lives” project, will receive $49,040 to increase community awareness among Filipinos living in San Francisco about the causes of being overweight and obese, and to encourage community-led solutions to the problem, such as improved access to recreational facilities and access to high quality food.

Aimee Afable-Munsuz, PhD, UCSF research specialist in clinical pharmacy, who has been volunteering with the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Corporation for several years on breast cancer prevention issues, brought the program to the attention of the Partnerships Council. She had learned, she says, about West Bay’s commitment to change not only in health, but in community strengthening and youth development. 

“Our grant proposal grew out of West Bay’s strengths in affecting change in the community, and my research interest, which is behavioral change. I am interested in lifestyle choices; I look at factors of disease that focus on physical activity, diet, and substance abuse. The broad goal of our project is to understand the causes of disease, particularly overweight and obesity at the neighborhood level — access to healthy food and recreational facilities — and to promote community-led solutions based on what we learn.”

Among other initiatives the grant will support the purchase of cameras for local children to give them the opportunity to document what they believe to be the causes within their community of being overweight and obese. The ultimate goal of the project is to increase the community’s capacity to identify their own culturally appropriate solutions to the problems of overweight and obesity.

## Support for Health Education in Faith Communities

Another grant, of $44,524, will support health promotion generally, and cancer education specifically, among religious organizations in San Francisco’s African American communities. “As an African-American, I grew up in the church, and I have seen the responsiveness of congregants to health issues as advocated through the clergy,” says Marcus Penn, MD, radiation oncology coordinator of community outreach for the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center Faith Communities Committee.

“We want to build trust between the faith communities and UCSF. One way we do that is through answering the call from the local African-American clergy to help them encourage better living among their congregations, as well as provide specific information about diseases like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, as well as cancer.”

## This Year’s Grant Recipients

The University Community Partnerships Program, established in 2006, is directed by a 20-member council, comprised of 10 UCSF representatives and 10 members of the community.

The Tides Foundation, which offers donor-advised funds, philanthropic advice, and management services for progressive social change philanthropy, provides administrative support for the grants program.

The 12 grant recipients for 2008 are:

* Cancer Center-Faith Communities Program — $44,524, to build capacity in health promotion and cancer education in the religious community in San Francisco’s African American communities.
* San Francisco General Hospital Residents’ Seva Project in Bayview Hunters Point — $50,000, to improve overall health and increase health consciousness in the Bayview Hunters Point community, especially as it relates to food and exercise, and increasing “community competency” of SFGH medical residents.
* Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Lives — $49,040, to use “photo-voice” and participatory video-making to investigate the neighborhood level causes of overweight and obesity among Filipinos living in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco.
* New Generation Health Center Mural Restoration Project — $2,499 to restore the mural at the Mission District location of the New Generation Health Center, a community clinic as well as a space for neighborhood social interaction.
* Partners in Food and Fitness — $2,499, to work with students throughout San Francisco to provide nutrition and physical activity education and promotion.
* Vivamos Sanas! (“Living as Healthy Women!”) — $2,499, to increase the use of clinical services among queer women of color, and thereby improve health outcomes, in addition to promoting lesbian Latinas’ health and empowerment by strengthening social supports and fostering leadership development.
* Partnership for Health Career Learning at Mission High School — $2,499, to engage Mission High School students in health sciences and related careers.
* Biomedical and Health Sciences Internship for High School Students — $2,499, to increase the number of underrepresented youth from San Francisco who are committed to and well positioned for college as well as careers in biomedical, behavioral, or health sciences.
* T-RAPP internship program — $2,499, to provide educational outreach for low-income and transitional-age youth by providing paid internships at the UCSF New Generations Health Center.
* The Safe Fishing Project — $2,499, to determine to what degree subsistence fishing populations in southeast San Francisco are aware of risks associated with consumption of fish caught on the southeast bay shoreline, and what kinds of culturally specific factors determine receptivity to educational materials and outreach methods to reduce exposure to mercury and other toxins in bay and delta fish.
* Health Services for Victims of Trafficking Through the Refugee Medical Clinic: Raising Awareness and Assessing Barriers to Care — $2,499, to fund a stipend and project related printing costs for a UCSF medical student to plan and implement a community assessment to collect demographic data on victims of trafficking in San Francisco, to discern effective and appropriate community linkages, to strengthen relationships with agencies serving trafficked persons and refugees, and to clarify issues affecting the victims of trafficking and how the Refugee Medical Clinic and Newcomers Health Program can address them.
* Southeast Asian Needs Assessment — $2,499, to identify the mental health needs among Southeast Asians in the Tenderloin and throughout San Francisco and to develop recommendations and guidelines for service enhancement and program development.