New Grant and Scholar-In-Residence Programs Aim to Impact Community Health

By Jenny Pedraza, APR  

The VCU Center for Community Engagement and Impact (CEI) has announced two new programs to provide support for community-engaged scholars to address community-identified needs related to social determinants of health and health outcomes.

“VCU has the potential to collaboratively impact the individuals and communities we serve, contribute to the national advancement of scientific knowledge and evidence-based practices related to health equity and promote community-engaged research (CEnR) as a viable and valued component of the research agenda,” said Amanda Hall, Ph.D., CEI assistant executive director and director of CEnR.

The 2021 CEnR Health Equity Grant, developed in partnership with the VCU Health Equity Initiative, supports the vision of improving the health of residents in the Greater Richmond area by working with community partners and co-researchers.

The grant will provide initial funding for two, one-year CEnR projects for a maximum award of $25,000 each. Additionally, six to eight capacity-building grants ranging from $3,000 to $8,000 will be awarded. Funding is limited to research proposals that exemplify sustainable partnerships between members of the VCU/VCU Health System and the surrounding Richmond community throughout the projects’ implementation. 

This initiative is open to faculty from all disciplines. Priority will be given to junior faculty, faculty who are new to CEnR and underrepresented faculty groups.

Research topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Food insecurity and healthy food access
  • Housing instability
  • Inadequate transportation systems and 
  • any other issues that disproportionately affect the health and well-being of individuals from marginalized communities who are often subject to unfavorable economic and social conditions.   

The deadline to submit a proposal is April 8. For more information, visit rampages.us/healthequitygrant

A second new initiative is designed to deepen the engagement of VCU faculty members from across the disciplines with the VCU Health Hub at 25th, an East End health and wellness center that is part of CEI. 

The 2021-22 VCU Equity Faculty Scholar in Residence Program aims to promote community-engaged health equity education and scholarship and is open to full-time faculty in any discipline. Priority will be given to applicants with a deep understanding of and commitment to health equity, an innovative approach to addressing issues related to social determinants of health and those with a proven record of sustained, mutually beneficial community partnerships/relationships. 

The scholar will be awarded a maximum amount of $20,000, inclusive of a one course buy-out during the academic year; a supplemental stipend equivalent to one course during the summer; and any remaining funds will be available to the faculty for materials and resources. The contract will run from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.

“We are excited to launch this scholar in residence program at the Health Hub at 25th,” said Natalie Pennywell, director of the Health Hub at 25th. “The program will support VCU faculty members in research, teaching and service activities that focus on building access and capacity within the community, while helping them form authentic, sustained and mutually-beneficial relationships between members of the East End/Church Hill and VCU/VCUHS communities.”

Applications for the scholar in residence program will be available April 1, and the deadline to submit is April 30, 2021. For more information, contact Hall at cenr@vcu.edu

Heidi Crapol, CEI executive director, said the new programs are representative of the center’s focus on increasing representation in community-engaged scholarship and research, embedding community-engaged best practices into campus culture and elevating community voice.   

“These programs tie directly to VCU’s strategic plan to address health inequities in the Richmond region, mobilizing VCU’s resources to really make an impact on these issues while supporting innovative scholars,” she said. 

The new initiatives build on existing CEI programs that focus on supporting CEnR among faculty and students, including CEnR Impact Grants and CEnR UROP Fellowships

For more information on CEnR at VCU, visit community.vcu.edu or e-mail cenr@vcu.edu

The Center for Community Engagement and Impact provides expertise for high-quality community engagement while leveraging university resources to address critical community-identified needs. The center is VCU’s central hub to convene and coordinate authentic community-university partnerships that strengthen research, student learning, and faculty success.