Jacksonville, Fla. - April 26, 2022
UF Health Jacksonville’s Urban Health Alliance, or UHA, has been awarded a multi-million dollar grant from the Florida Blue Foundation that will allow the organization to establish a statewide Center for Health Equity and Social Justice.
The $3.7 million grant provides a major boost to the UHA’s goal of improving health equity and social justice to ensure that families, individuals and communities of need have both the access and opportunity to achieve positive health outcomes. The UHA was created two years ago to serve as a comprehensive resource center and community health innovation hub that focuses on improving health by collaborating with health care, government and community organizations.
“This is an incredibly generous grant to UF Health Jacksonville and the Urban Health Alliance that will allow us to continue to focus our attention on the communities and people who need us the most,” said Russ Armistead, CEO of UF Health Jacksonville. “The vision of UHA is to help residents achieve their full potential for optimal health and well-being, and this grant will help us take a major step in that direction.”
Florida Blue Foundation, the philanthropic foundation for the state's Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, supports programs focused on improving food security, health equity, and mental well-being in communities throughout the state. UF Health Jacksonville and Florida Blue Foundation have a strong track record of collaborating over the course of 20 years on community-based programs that advance health equity and address long-standing social, health and racial inequities.
In 2020, Florida Blue reaffirmed its commitment to advancing health and racial equity by establishing the Equity Alliance initiative focused on addressing systemic racism and health inequities in the communities it serves, and pledged to invest $25 million over five years to address those issues. The grant to UHA is part of that investment.
“While we have always acknowledged that health disparities exist, COVID-19 shined a spotlight on the ongoing impact of systemic racism and long-standing health inequities,” said GuideWell and Florida Blue President and CEO Pat Geraghty. “Many underserved communities faced higher rates of illness, hospitalizations and death. We’re proud to support the Center for Health Equity and Social Justice and aligned in our goals to address the social factors impacting people’s health and drive sustainable solutions to meet the individual needs of our communities.”
The Center for Health Equity and Social Justice has a wide range of goals, which include bringing together diverse stakeholders to create and share living actionable community research, developing training curriculum, tools and approaches that are practical and focus on people and the community, and educating communities to expand opportunities to gain mutual understanding and respect for differences and similarities. The UHA will partner with three agencies to design and implement the work using Florida Blue Foundation’s grant – 904Ward, the Florida Health Justice Project and the Hispanic Federation.
“One of the most critical factors is to ensure the success of the new center will be collaboration not only across the state to ensure the broadest reach, but also working with other organizations with similar missions and priorities,” said Ann-Marie Knight, vice president of Community Engagement and chief diversity officer for UF Health Jacksonville. “We look forward to working with each of these organizations. Through their expertise and respective partnerships we will, collectively, work with communities to help address factors that negatively impact health and well-being.”