Applications for a grant under the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission (MCHRC) closed last month, drawing in requests from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, local health departments, and a number of nonprofit organizations. Forty organizations submitted applications, totaling $42 million in requests.
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The grant program, called the Pathways to Health Equity Call for Proposals, will provide funding for certain organizations to reduce health disparities in areas with underserved communities. The grants last two years, in which selected organizations must establish themselves as self-sustainable “health equity resource communities” (HERC). Successful HERCs will receive additional five-year grants from MCHRC.
The first round of funding, totaling $13 million, was made available by the Maryland Health Equity Resource Act (MHERA) under SB 0172 during the 2021 legislative session. After its passage in May 2021, MCHRC developed a timeline for the grant selection process:
According to MCHRC executive director Mark Luckner, ideal organizations eligible for grants included non-profit community-based organizations and hospitals, higher education institutes and particularly historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), or local health departments.
Among the 40 grant applicants are the University of Maryland School of Nursing and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, requesting $3.1 and $3 million respectively. Local health departments from Prince George’s, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties requested a collective $4.5 million. A number of hospitals and FQHCs also requested funding.
A full list of the applicants can be found here. The list also denotes which zip codes the organizations serve, including those identified as Health Enterprise Zones (HEZ). Established during the 2012 legislative session, the HEZ Initiative authorizes the Department of Health Secretary, along with MCHRC, to designate target areas in the state where organizations can focus efforts to reduce health disparities, improve health outcomes, and reduce health care costs.
Over the next few weeks, MCHRC will review the grant applications and select top-scoring candidates. These candidates will present their plans to apply the funding to reduce health disparities in their designated areas to the Commission in early February, followed by the grant awards.