UCSF Partner a Finalist in Google’s Bay Area Impact Challenge

By Scott Maier

Martha Rodriguez-Salazar, conductor of one of choirs at the San Francisco Community Music Center, leads her team during a recital.

UC San Francisco has partnered with the San Francisco Community Music Center (CMC) and the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services to form choirs at 12 senior centers throughout San Francisco in the “Community of Voices” research study. Now, CMC has an opportunity to receive additional funding to sustain these choirs after the study closes.

Earlier this year, Google’s Bay Area Impact Challenge (BAIC) invited nonprofit organizations to share ideas for improving their communities in nine counties – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma. More than a thousand applications were judged on community impact, innovation, scalability and feasibility. CMC was among the 10 finalists, each of which was awarded $250,000.

UCSF's research examines whether singing in a community choir is a cost-efecitve way to promote health among older adults.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, Community of Voices examines whether singing in a community choir is a cost-effective way to promote health and well-being among culturally diverse older adults. CMC is providing choir directors and other professional music leadership, and the BAIC funding would ensure the choirs continue long after the study concludes.

Julene Johnson, PhD

“There is usually a long gap before research findings are adopted in communities, and this effort shows the potential for the private sector to get more involved in helping sustain and disseminate findings earlier in the process to make a larger impact,” said study principal investigator Julene Johnson, PhD, cognitive neuroscientist and professor in the UCSF School of Nursing Institute for Health & Aging. “It also reflects UCSF’s long commitment to doing innovative research that has a direct impact on our community and finding ways to sustain these programs in them.”

Online voting opened May 22 to award another $250,000 each to the top four programs that receive the most votes. 

Winners will be announced June 3. In addition to the monetary award, these four programs will receive access to co-working space and technical support from Google.

Choir photos courtesy of the San Francisco Community Music Center

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