Center for Health Equity

Engaging Communities, Eliminating Health Disparities, Advancing Social Justice

Mission

Since 2011, the Center for Health Equity (CHE) seeks to understand and ultimately eliminate health inequities in under resourced, vulnerable, and underserved communities and populations, particularly those in Western Pennsylvania. CHE addresses issues attributed to institutional racism, builds strategic partnerships across sectors and communities, acknowledges a social equity in all policies perspective, and the public sector's role in achieving health equity for its' citizenry. 

About CHE

Learn about our efforts in 

Research

Addressing health inequities

The Black Women & Femmes Health Project is a Pitt Teaming Grant-funded project designed to: 

  1. Uplift the ongoing work led by Black women and femmes
  2. Interrogate systems that exacerbate inequities in health; and 
  3. Develop plans for dismantling systems of oppression specifically in Allegheny County that have a disproportionate impact on the health and well-being of Black women and femmes. 

Live Well Allegheny: Lifting Wellness for African Americans, funded by the CDC REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) Initiative, uses a systems-approach to enhance health equity and address factors associated with chronic disease for African Americans in six priority communities: Wilkinsburg, Northside, Hill District, Garfield, Larimer/Homewood/East Hills, and the Mon Valley. 

Harm Reduction

The Understanding Patterns of Healthy Aging among Men Who Have Sex with Men Study [Healthy Aging] investigates resiliencies as means for improving HIV-related outcomes, depression, and aging outcomes in middle-aged and older MSM. This project is supported by a Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research award. 

The Violence Prevention Initiative is a multi-part effort dedicated to addressing community violence through the Homicide Review, Gunshot Reoccurring Injury Prevention Services, and the Reimagine Reentry Program. 

Community Engagement

The Community Research Advisory Board consists of faculty, students, and community members that advise researchers on how best to foster collaborations and engage communities and populations that experience health inequities. 

The COMPASS Study (COMmunity PrevAlence of SARS CoV-2) is an IRB-approved multisite seroprevalence study funded by the COVID Prevention Network/NIH/NAID that investigates the seroprevalence of SARS CoV-2 in various community settings. A sub-set of the Community Research Advisory Board is providing consultation through the duration of the study. 

The Live Longer Empowering and Engaging Pittsburgh Communities Project represents a collaboration with the Community Empowerment Association to develop and conduct neighborhood conversations about life expectancy and health equity in Homewood and McKeesport. 

Informed Interventions

RAICES is a CMS-funded community health worker intervention to promote physical activity, healthy eating, and improved health care access among Latinx in Allegheny County. 

The Pittsburgh Study is a community-partnered study to develop interventions that help children and families thrive throughout the life-course. The study is led by Children's Hospital and follows children in Allegheny County from birth through high school. CHE is a strategic partner. 

Cuenta Conmigo (Count on Me) is a collaboration with Casa San Jose to organize remote support groups with the goal to prevent depression by using mindfulness and improving social connections among healthy Latino youth recruited from the community. 

Policy and practice

Influencing Practice

The Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee reviews de-identified summaries of all pregnancy associated deaths in the commonwealth, regardless of cause of death and including drug-related deaths, homicides, and suicides. The committee determines if the death was related to the pregnancy, identifies contributing factors, determines if the death could have been prevented, and makes recommendations to prevent future deaths. 

The Violence Prevention Initiative is a multi-part effort dedicated to addressing community violence by influencing policy in how hospitals provide services for gun-shot victims and piloting an innovative approach to train returning citizens for construction and health-service jobs. 

The Black COVID-19 Equity Coalition is comprised of a group of physicians, researchers, epidemiologists, public health and health care practitioners, social scientists, community funders, and government officials concerned about addressing COVID-19 in vulnerable populations. The coalition aims to ensure an equitable response to the coronavirus pandemic, based on socio-economic and culturally relevant data, that produces culturally relevant responses to reduce health inequities and improve health and well-being in general. 

Racism as a Public Health Issue

The charge of the Pitt Public Health Social Justice Action Committee is to confront systemic and structural racism at Pitt Public Health and beyond. This committee is developing systemic solutions and actionable recommendations that the school should implement to achieve social justice and racial equity and bring about transformative change. 

Drs. Noble Maseru and Dara Mendez testified and contributed to the recommendations preceding the Pittsburgh City Council passing legislation in 2019. This legislation then led to Allegheny County passing a motion to identify racism a public health crisis in May 2020. 

Amplifying and Advocating

CHE is a member organization of the Human Rights Working Group, which is an initiative to strengthen working relationships between the University of Pittsburgh and community leaders addressing a variety of human rights concerns in the region. The aim is to amplify human rights on the region’s and university's agenda and to raise public consciousness and discourse around human rights. 

CHE collaborates in organizing the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement's community outreach events, which have a socially emancipatory message. The nonprofit, nonpartisan, Latino(a) organization provides Latino trade union members in the U.S. with a more effective voice within the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), to encourage Latino participation in the democratic process, and to encourage the organization of Latino workers into labor unions. 

Environmental Justice

CHE is a member of the Water Equity Task Force, created in 2019 to promote a diverse workforce, green jobs, water affordability, clean and safe water, infrastructure, and address climate change. 

CHE is a member of the Black Environmental Collective which focuses on environmental justice, the social and built environment, and impacts on Black communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Teaching, Education, and Training

Social Justice in Scholarship

The Health Equity Certificate is an innovative 15-credit program that addresses the systemic root causes of health disparities and provides students with an academic foundation for achieving health equity through assessing the complexity of inequities among diverse groups of marginalized populations, mobilizing communities where disparities exist, developing culturally tailored interventions, and advocating for healthy public policy. 

The Health Justice Scholars program supports the development of Pitt Public Health scholars who have interests or projects in health equity and justice. The scholars will work closely with a CHE faculty member conducting work in areas such as chronic disease, violence prevention, maternal and infant health, mental health, and interventions focused on Black and Latinx populations, as well as other communities of color. 

The Maternal and Child Health Equity Scholars program serves as a platform for learners and early-career researchers to exchange ideas, network and collaborate on projects related to health equity, reproductive justice, and maternal and child health. The group also works in collaboration with local community and governmental partners on practice and policy interventions addressing race-based health inequities. 

The Bernard D. Goldstein Award is facilitated biennially by CHE in a competitive application process for Pitt Public Health students or postdoctoral fellows working in the area of environmental health disparities.

Reading and Writing in Community

The Emerging Latinx Communities Group supports discussion and publication of high-quality research articles, promotes contextual awareness and knowledge of the health of emerging communities, and establishes connections among faculty, students, staff, and community members that can lead to future collaborative work in research, practice, or publications. It is supported by the Center for Latin American Studies. 

Focused Writing is an effort to increase productivity and promote connections among faculty, students, staff, and community. While not limited to under-represented minorities, most of the participants identify as such. There are 8-10 three-hour meetings each term, where participants join in three 45-50-minute writing blocks with breaks for socializations and support. 

The monthly Health Equity Journal Club facilitates dialogue about health equity among faculty, students, staff, and community members. The club sparks an intellectually enriching discussion of research and interventions related to health equity. 

Latinx Visibility in the Pittsburgh Region

Design Together/Diseño Juntxs focuses on serving the low-income Latinx community. Funded by Pitt’s Year of Engagement it focuses on engaging Pittsburgh’s Latinx high school students by exposing them to the fields of engineering, art history, and design in a bilingual, theoretical, and hands-on remote workshop. 

The CHE collaborates with a grassroots group of Pitt faculty, students, and staff to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month at Pitt. In 2020, the group hosted 29 virtual events, including scholarly presentations and panels, community-oriented sessions, and discussions on identity and inclusion.

Service and Community Engagement

The CRAB and Collaborators

The Community Research Advisory Board is comprised of faculty, students, and community members that advise researchers on how best to foster collaborations and engage communities and populations that experience health inequities. 

Located in the Homewood and Hill District neighborhoods, the Community Engagement Centers are physical facilities that create space for collaboration between neighborhood partners, community-based organizations, and the University. CHE teaches courses, hosts community meetings, and receives referrals. 

The Forbes Funds' mission is building the management capacity and impact of community-based nonprofits individually and collectively. Since 2019, the Community Research Advisory Board has reviewed grants submitted to TFF on how well they address social determinants of health and sustainable development goals. 

Birth Equity

CHE is a strategic partner with community and governmental agencies to address maternal and child health inequities via multi-level strategies. This includes the Healthy Baby Zone Wilkinsburg and the Birth Equity Institute funded by CityMatCH. The project was modeled after the Best Babies Zone framework, which was created to address perinatal health outcomes by focusing efforts on the social and economic determinants of health and the promotion of health equity and their impact on health outcomes. 

The Community Action Network serves as the primary liaison between Healthy Start and the community, acting as regional advocates for project initiatives.

Black-Led and Black-Centered

The Black COVID-19 Equity Coalition is comprised of a group of physicians, researchers, epidemiologists, public health and health care practitioners, social scientists, community funders, and government officials concerned about addressing COVID-19 in vulnerable populations. The coalition aims to ensure an equitable response to the coronavirus pandemic, based on socio-economic and culturally relevant data, that produces culturally relevant responses to reduce health inequities and improve health and well-being in general. 

Pittsburgh Black Pride is a community-based organization that provides entertainment, social information, and health education to Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, and Ally (LGBTQIA+) individuals and families across Southwest Pennsylvania. 

CHE is a member of the Black Environmental Collective which focuses on environmental justice, the social and built environment, and the impacts on Black communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania. 

Via the Health Advocates in Reach Barbershop Outreach Program, CHE partners with local African American owned and operated barbershops to provide support, health education and promotion. The annual Take a Health Professional to the People Day initiative provides health education, screening, and resources to customers and staff. 

Supporting Latinx Communities

The Immigrants and Internationals Advisory Council was established to inform and advise the director and executive staff of the Department of Human Services regarding the human service needs of immigrant and international residents of Allegheny County. 

Casa San Jose is a community resource center that advocates for and empowers Latinos by promoting integration and self-sufficiency. CHE assists with evaluation needs through mentoring students and CHE faculty provide leadership. 

CHE is a member of the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation , a local business incubator dedicated to improving the lives of Hispanics in the region, increasing the Hispanic population, and increasing Hispanic investment. 

poetic health justice and arrow

April 29, 6 p.m.

The Poetic Health Justice Forum brings together poets, artists, and health scholars to discuss issues of justice and equity as it relates to race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in observance of National Minority Health Month. 

Register for Zoom info!

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Schuyler wins Bernard D. Goldstein Award for work on environmental exposures and asthma

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Alexander Schuyler (EOH '23) is the latest winner of the Bernard D. Goldstein Award in Environmental Health Disparities and Public Health Practice for his project entitled, Impact of redlining and environmental exposures on airway gene expression, oxidative homeostasis and asthma outcomes. One reviewer commented, "I am intrigued by the potential for this project to make an explicit connection between disparities and the historical practice of re... 

Gary-Webb, Baumann featured in new book The Science of Health Disparities Research

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NIMHD - The Science of Health Disparities Research is an in-depth volume for comprehensive information on conducting clinical and translational health disparities studies and features EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb and BCHS' Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) authored the chapter "Racial/Ethnic, Socioeconomic, and Other Social Determinants."   

Meet Taylor Robinson, Health Justice Scholar

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Research with a health disparities focus is the core of Taylor Robinson's (EPI MPH '22) pursuits. She has been involved in research throughout college and in high school. In college, she was an intern in the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Internship and was a 2019 Amgen NIH Scholar. Her research topics have included patient-physician communication bias, linear regression correlates of behavioral change techniques for smoking cessation on Twitt... 

Meet Julia Donnelly, Health Justice Scholar

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Julia Donnelly (BCHS MPH '21) is a second-year student who is also pursuing a Certificate in Health Equity. "After taking the Seminar in Health Equity, I developed an interest in studying the incarcerated and reentry populations. I am specifically interested in how racial disparities in policing, sentencing, incarceration, and lack of investment in social services supporting re-entry efforts affect the health of offenders, their families, and th... 

"Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings." 

-Nelson Mandela