Public-private partnership continues community-based approach to vaccine access
Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — Healthier Together, a public-private partnership between the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and NC Counts Coalition, released the second round of funding of up to $500,000 for community-based organizations to apply for grants to help North Carolina achieve its goal of delivering equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Grants will range from $10,000–$25,000 each (or up to $60,000 for collaborative proposals).
Healthier Together will award grants for short-term vaccine equity initiatives from November 2021 to February 2022. Funds will be awarded to organizations supporting North Carolina communities that experience health inequities, with a focus on ensuring Black/African-American, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Latinx/Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander and high-poverty and low-wealth communities are able to access COVID-19 vaccines. Grants will fund activities to conduct vaccine outreach and education efforts, help people schedule appointments, arrange transportation, coordinate local vaccine events at trusted and accessible locations and help ensure people get to second dose appointments (or booster appointments, as they become authorized). The application period opened September 15, 2021 and ends October 6, 2021.
During the first round of funding, which ran from June 1 until August 31, 2021, the 27 Healthier Together grantees reached more than 400,000 people in 50 North Carolina counties through door-to-door and site-based canvassing, phone and text message outreach, and educational events about COVID-19 vaccines. The community-based organizations worked hyper-locally in census tracts with low vaccination rates to help close the vaccination equity gaps in Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and other historically marginalized communities across North Carolina.
“Community-based organizations are demonstrating the value of investing in and leveraging their expertise for vaccine equity, many who have been mobilizing in the fight against COVID-19 since last year,” said Stacey Carless, NC Counts Coalition executive director. “As more dangerous variants spread throughout North Carolina, there is even more urgency for people to get vaccinated. The efforts of our Healthier Together grantees are crucial to making sure vulnerable communities are getting equitable access to vaccinations and information.”
As part of their outreach campaigns during the first funding cycle, Healthier Together grantees equipped communities with the information and resources needed to increase access to vaccines and close vaccination gaps.
For example, Vecinos, a nonprofit health care organization that serves and advocates for farmworkers in western North Carolina, vaccinated 90 percent of the farmworkers who arrived at Norton Creek Farm in Franklin, N.C., in two days. Vecinos provided on-site vaccinations, access to trusted community members to answer questions, educational resources about the COVID-19 vaccine and offered vaccinations at times that accommodated the farmworkers’ work schedules, which were often in the evenings from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
In addition to providing grants to community-based organizations, the Healthier Together initiative includes regional health equity teams that support vaccine outreach and education efforts, use of vaccination data to inform planning and investment of resources and help matching vaccine providers with community-based organizations.
With only 60 percent of North Carolinians ages 12 and older fully vaccinated, North Carolina continues to use a toolbox of diverse strategies to mitigate COVID-19. Healthier Together is one of those strategies, and one that enables more direct outreach to reach and inform individuals from historically marginalized populations.
Organizations interested in applying for Healthier Together grants can participate in an informational online webinar with the NC Counts Coalition 6 to 7 p.m. on Monday, September 20, to learn about the Request for Proposal process. The webinar will be available in Spanish and have closed captioning. It will be recorded and posted to the NC Counts website for later viewing. Potential grantees can register for the webinar at https://bit.ly/HTFallWebinar.
Additional information regarding the RFP process can be found at nccounts.org/funding-opportunities.
For specific questions about this RFP, contact the NC Counts Coalition at RFPquestions@nccounts.org.