Community Engagement Initiative with Department of Health a success

| Academic & Student Affairs, CFH, Monday Letter, Our People, Students

The yearlong Community Engagement Initiative program that began in 2014 has come to an end, but its impact in the community is here to stay.

Last year, the Florida Department of Health-Hillsborough County/USF College of Public Health Community Engagement Initiative was to fund exciting and innovative projects. The partnership made grants available, allowing community agencies to respond to local public health concerns.

The collaboration brought together current and future public health workforce members to work on improving Florida’s public health systems while also addressing the needs of Hillsborough County.

The community projects were executed by members from community agencies, USF faculty and COPH graduate students. The project was supervised by Dr. Martha Coulter, COPH professor and director of the Harrell Center, and Walter Niles, manager of the Office of Health Equity, Florida Department of Health-Hillsborough County.

Martha Coulter

Martha Coulter, Dr.PH

As an update to the goals initially outlined, the five programs mentioned in the grant made the following progress:

  • The “Boot Camp for Dads” program, executed by Champions for Children, helped care for new fathers from underserved populations. Additionally, it provided equal access to culturally and linguistically competent care to additional community agencies.
  • Feeding America addressed food insecurity among school-aged children with the goal of improving poor academic and behavioral performance stemming from this issue.
  • Florida Institute for Community Services performed research and collected data on farm workers’ health, perceptions of risk, safety and belief systems.
  • The Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger implemented healthy food interventions to more locations with food insecure individuals.
  • Latinos Unidos Por Un Nuevo Amanecer enhanced their survivor navigator program, further refined their organizational priorities, developed specific fund-raising campaigns and determined actions for achieving and sustaining the agency’s goals.

Additionally, in the year since the Community Engagement Initiative was implemented, student learning was enhanced and faculty involvement with ongoing community projects was improved. This collaboration helped increase agencies’ impact on public health problems in the community.

“We hope, of course, that it will be refunded in the future,” said Coulter.

More information regarding the collaboration is also highlighted in the Florida Department of Health, Hillsborough County September/October 2015 newsletter.

The original story on this collaboration can be found here.

Story by AnnaMarie Koehler-Shepley, College of Public Health

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