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Arnold School of Public Health

Center for Community Health Alignment Partners with Johnson & Johnson to Combat Racial and Health Inequities

April 16, 2021 | Erin Bluvas,

In partnership with the National Association of Community Health Workers, the Arnold School’s Center for Community Health Alignment (CCHA) is working to help eradicate racial and social injustice as a public health threat. The new collaboration, supported by the Johnson & Johnson “Our Race to Health Equity” initiative, aims to eliminate health inequities for people of color by leveraging the CCHA’s community health worker program.

“Community health workers are trained professionals who are vetted within their own communities and have trusted relationships with the individuals they serve,” says CCHA executive director Julie Smithwick. “They serve as bridges between health and social service systems within their communities and can address population health gaps, help individuals implement lifestyle changes, improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery, and be voices for their communities to lift up local needs and local solutions.”

Organizations such as the National Association of Community Health Workers are already working closely with local entities like CCHA to increase the number of community health workers and build their networks. However, the need for community health workers and the pivotal roles they play in addressing social drivers of health and health inequities far outstrips the speed at which this capacity building can occur.

Many states and regions still lack capacity-building support for growing this particular workforce, including an absence of career advancement and training opportunities. 

With this new initiative, CCHA will work with its partners to establish a Southeast Community Health Worker Network that enables areas with varying levels of infrastructure to support one another to increase the region’s collective advancement. This collaboration will also facilitate discussions and solutions related to community health worker career paths. Finally, CCHA will do what it does best -- provide leadership support for community health workers, including training related to advocacy, health equity, and policy.

“It's so imperative to lay a solid foundation for community health workers. The growth of the community health worker workforce in every state proves there is a need for CHWs as well as a passion of people to serve their communities,” says LaSheba Boyd, Community Health Worker Workforce Initiative Project Lead. “Having a career path that correlates to our potential and an expanded curriculum that will support our growth and ability to affect systemic change is needed.”

In alignment with the Johnson & Johnson Our Race to Health Equity initiative, the project aims to eradicate racial and social injustice as a public health threat by focusing on three major elements: cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce that inspires innovative healthcare solutions, closing the racial mortality gap by investing in culturally competent community care models, and leveraging their  network of partners to combat racial and social health determinants.


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