Joining together with local partners, we are creating a healthier future for Black communities by ensuring everyone has access to resources and education they need to be healthy. For far too long, politicians and those in power have deliberately deprived Black communities of health resources, creating color-coded barriers that make it harder for Black people to access the information they need to get and stay well. By providing communities greater access to trusted, culturally-competent people and resources, we are improving health outcomes for generations to come.
Every child and adult should have access to the resources they need to be healthy, regardless of where they live, the color of their skin, or how much money is in their wallets. To truly live into our values as a society that seeks justice and fairness, we must ensure every person has the opportunity to be healthy. Research and lived experience show us that Black communities have been ignored and discriminated against, significantly limiting their ability to receive, understand, and apply health information.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the disparities in access to health resources for black people and people of color. It showed the importance of being proactive; directing resources and attention to communities who need the most support to protect Black lives. All around the country, acting individually and collectively, we witnessed committed organizers and organizations compassionately mobilize their expertise, resources, and access to health providers to support Black communities. Their work—educating, dispelling misinformation, recommending data-driven prevention strategies including vaccination, and facilitating health services— saved countless lives.
The Council on Black Health, with the support of our partners including Sesame Workshop, The Pfizer Foundation, and The Charlotte Area Fund, is providing local communities with accurate, relevant, and relatable health information from trusted sources. Our work is improving health literacy, providing health education, and encouraging behaviors and activities that prevent disease and ensuring positive health outcomes for Black people.
“The beloved community” was around long before the pandemic and will exist long after we combat the acute effects of COVID-19. Local grassroots leaders who showed up for their communities during this time—passing out masks, providing testing center locations, interpreting and sharing research, and advocating for increased attention and resources—are experts on public health. We learn from them, as well as researchers and public health leaders as we build local capacity for providing accurate and unbiased health information and resources to families and communities.
Our Initiatives and Impact
Developing Trusted Health Navigator Networks
We honor the ongoing contributions and important role trusted local leaders with lived experience play in advancing health equity. As such, we provide training and develop skills to deliver health education, transformational health solutions, and promote optimal health outcomes in their communities.
After the completion of the training program, Trusted Health Navigator teams engage their networks and civic leaders to share messaging on chronic disease prevention, COVID-19 care strategies and resources, the role of racism in health care, and more. All the while, we’re evaluating the effectiveness of using trusted messengers to share information compared to other public health communications strategies.
Trusted Health Navigators with Lived Experiences
With funding from the Pfizer Foundation, the Council launched a training program to implement strategies to address health literacy and health behavior among members of Black communities in Charlotte and Chicago by:
Community Health Worker Pre-Internship Training Course
The Council is partnering with the Governors State University College of Health and Human Services to deliver a pre-internship training course for undergraduate students. This training provides college students with employable skills to work as a Community Health Worker (CHW), with real world experience in public health, to help solidify the competencies they acquired during their program and prepare them for the internship required to complete the collegiate studies.
Workforce Development Through Community Health Worker Certification
The Council is pleased to partner with the Charlotte Area Fund (CAF) as a capacity building partner to support workforce development. CAF offers various income-based Workforce Development programs to ensure people have the proper training and certifications to land and retain jobs in fields of high growth. Through funding from CAF, the Council has identified and recruited community members to go through the required 100 core hours and 80 practicum/clinical hours necessary for eligibility for Community Health Worker (CHW) certification. The Council will support participant engagement and will facilitate connection with community partners for practicum experiences. After training is completed, certified CHWs will become part of the larger CHW workforce and will also become permanent partners for the Council’s work to advance our strategic plan. CW Williams Community Health Center, a Federally Qualified Community Health Center (FQHC) based in Charlotte, serves as our ongoing partner and host site for the practicum training program.
Participants who completed our training program in our first two locations have led successful health education and health behavior promotion programs in their communities. This training initiative has proved to be a powerful workforce development strategy. Many training alumni have gone on to gain new employment in related health fields, providing these trusted health navigators with paid employment and stability as they work to change practices that impact Black people’s health.
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Sesame Street in Communities
No matter where we live or what our background is, we all want to be able to care for our loved ones, especially our children. Families want to be able to access prevention and treatment options, yet systems have been rigged to prioritize health education and health care for some, while creating color-coded barriers for others.
With the support of Sesame Workshop, we are working to promote healthy behaviors and practices for children through educating parents, caregivers, and health providers. We are advancing health equity by ensuring all families understand the benefits of routine well-child visits, oral health check-ups, vaccinations, and healthy practices in the home. It’s not enough to share information; we engage parents with cultural competency, providing outreach from trusted messengers who have lived experience and empathy for how hard it is to overcome barriers to resources and care.