UCSF Community Partnership Council awards grants in Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood

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.  Of these, four grants specifically target community groups based in Bayview Hunters Point (BVHP), with awards totaling $99,522.

The goal of the grants 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 San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) Residents’ Seva Project in BVHP is a partnership between the Bayview Hunters Point Foundation for Community Improvement, Southeast Food Access (SEFA) Working Group, and the UCSF primary care medicine residency program based at SFGH.

The partnership grew out of a sense among UCSF medical staff serving the BVHP population that they were not getting at the root causes of their patients’ health conditions.

UCSF’s residency program in primary care medicine attracts residents who ultimately want to become leaders in the care of underserved populations, says Sharad Jain, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at UCSF and director of the UCSF/SFGH primary care medicine residency track.

“Our residents often report that they spend too much time in the hospital.  We would like them to spend more time in the community, to meet people in their own environment, and to get a feel for what is happening in their patients’ lives,” says Jain.  The formal partnership between the UCSF medical residents and community groups in BVHP began when one of the UCSF residents began attending community meetings of the Southeast Food Access Working Group, a coalition of groups working to help BVHP residents make better food and nutrition choices for themselves and their families, and to work on a broader basis through advocacy to make healthier foods available to this population.

“Food stamps provide $2.87 per day per person for food.  People who receive food stamps often have to choose high calorie, low nutrition foods, because you can go to a fast food place and get a hamburger for one dollar, and that will fill you up,” says Jain.  “So we tell our patients in a clinical setting that they need to eat healthy foods to avoid medical problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease—but that completely misses the reality of our patients’ lives.  They do not have regular access to healthy food.  There aren’t many full grocery stores in Bayview Hunters Point; many people get their food from corner stores, where there isn’t much fresh produce or other healthy food choices.”

The collaboration will bring UCSF medical residents to the BVHP community directly, to work with community groups to address health topics as well as to advocate on behalf of the community for better access to healthy foods, including, for example, trying to support a farmers’ market to the neighborhood, or linking community residents up with services such as the San Francisco Food Bank.

“We are hoping to work closely with community organizations through SEFA to think about ways to support our patients who live in Bayview Hunters Point to help advocate for access to nutritious foods and to help residents learn ways to improve their nutrition,” says Jain.  “We all try to refer our patients to the San Francisco Food Bank on an individual basis, but we also want to learn how to do a better job with the patients we see on a broader basis, helping them learn advocacy skills to improve their community.”


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.”


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 grant recipients in BVHP 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.

• 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.

The other UCSF Community Partnership Council grant award recipients for 2008 are:

• 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.

• 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.

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