City of Tuskegee Awarded $3 Million to Fight COVID-19 and Improve Health Literacy Among Racial and Ethnic Minority and Vulnerable Communities

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Article Submitted by Tristatz, LLC

Tuskegee, Alabama— The City of Tuskegee will hold a press conference on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. in the Tuskegee Municipal Complex located at 101 Fonville Street. The City will announce that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) has awarded $3 million in grant funding to the City of Tuskegee.

This award is a part of a $250 million two-year initiative to identify and implement best practices for improving health literacy to enhance COVID-19 vaccination and other mitigation practices among underserved populations. The Advancing Health Literacy (AHL) to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19 initiative is part of the Biden/Harris Administration’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.

“The Advancing Health Literacy initiative is a vital part of the HHS efforts to help communities hardest hit by the pandemic access and understand COVID-related information,” said Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Rachel L. Levine, M.D. “This funding, and the partnerships with local and community entities across the country, will help our national efforts to continue to tackle health disparities surrounding COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment.”

Health literacy is a person’s ability to find, understand and use information and services to help them make health-related decisions for themselves and others. Health literacy is a central focus of the Healthy People 2030 blueprint for improving the health of the nation, which is sponsored by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. Healthy People 2030 has elevated health literacy within one of its overarching goals: Eliminate health disparities, achieve health equity, and attain health literacy to improve the health and well-being of all.

“COVID-19 highlights the importance of health literacy, of understanding public health measures and taking steps to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, RADM Felicia Collins, M.D. “Our new health literacy initiative will help local governments enhance their health literacy efforts to reduce COVID-related disparities within racial and ethnic minority populations and other vulnerable communities.”

Over the next two years, the City of Tuskegee will work with local community-based organizations in Bullock, Dallas, Lowndes, Macon and Wilcox Counties to develop a health literacy plan to increase the availability, acceptability, and use of COVID-19 public health information and services by racial and ethnic minority populations. The projects will also focus on other populations considered vulnerable for not receiving and using COVID-19 public health information. Recipients are also expected to leverage local data to identify racial and ethnic minority populations at the highest risk for health disparities and low health literacy, as well as populations not currently reached through existing public health campaigns.

“As one of only three cities awarded funding in the State of Alabama, we are extremely grateful to OMH for this grant award,” said Tony Haygood, Mayor of Tuskegee. “With the assistance of Tuskegee University and our many community partners, we will work hard in our target Black Belt communities to significantly improve the health outcomes of some of our most vulnerable citizens. Our area of focus has, for instance, a COVID-19 vaccination rate of 37%. That rate must increase by many percentage points if we are to ensure that we are ready and prepared for the Delta, as well as any new, COVID-19 variants.”

The Mayor also expressed his gratitude to the Offices of Congresswoman Terri Sewell and Congressman Mike Rogers for their support. Kim R. Ortiz, Coordinator of Community Development Grants for the City of Tuskegee, will serve as Project Director. Tristatz LLC, a local consulting firm, developed the HHS grant application for the City of Tuskegee and will assist in the administration of the grant.

The Office of Minority Health (OMH) is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities. For more information about OMH, visit minorityhealth.hhs.gov.

The City of Tuskegee, incorporated in 1843, is the seat of Macon County. The proud home of Tuskegee University and the Tuskegee Airmen, it has a sterling history of education and accomplishment.

All rights reserved, Gumptown Magazine. Copyright 2021.

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