Michigan Community Academic Partnership Awarded Additional $1.4M to Support Community-Based COVID-19 Intervention Efforts

May 03, 2021

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, 05/03/2021 – Michigan CEAL: Communities Conquering COVID, a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded initiative Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities, has been awarded an additional $1.4 million dollars to support an additional year of community-based COVID-19 interventions. The Michigan CEAL project was previously funded $1.4 million in Fall of 2020.

Michigan CEAL is a transdisciplinary partnership led by Principal Investigators Erica E. Marsh, MD, MSCI, FACOG, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Director of Community Engagement for MICHR; and Barbara A. Israel, DrPH, MPH, Professor, University of Michigan School of Public Health (UM-SPH), Department of Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE), and Director, Detroit Urban Research Center. The partnership is guided by a 16-member Steering Committee composed of leaders from community-based organizations, health and human service agencies, and academia. Project efforts are focused on alleviating COVID-19 health disparities among Michigan’s most disproportionately affected communities – African-American/Black and Latinx communities in Genesee, Kent, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties.

“The Steering Committee has been actively engaged in deciding upon its guiding principles and operating norms, and has been instrumental in developing survey questionnaire items, interview protocols, and communication strategies. The members are embedded within their communities and play a critical role in addressing the challenges brought on by the pandemic,” Israel said. “These additional funds will provide much needed resources to the work that our community partners are doing to increase vaccine access and address health inequities in their communities.”

Rev. Dr. Sarah Bailey, Founder and CEO of Bridges into the Future and member of the CEAL Steering Committee says, “The Flint community has been through quite a lot in the last seven years between the water crisis and now the pandemic. This funding will be essential to support Flint and Genesee County in reaching Black and Brown communities in their trusted spaces whenever they are ready.”

While the first year of the project has focused on conducting community-based participatory research that enhanced the inclusion of communities of color in COVID-19 research, year two will focus on improving access to the COVID-19 vaccines in under resourced populations by supporting community-based vaccine clinics and testing interventions. Ken Resnicow, PhD, UM-SPH, HBHE, a leader in health promotion and decision making, will lead the development of multilevel interventions aimed at improving vaccine access.

"Working closely with our community partners, this project will allow us to develop and deploy novel interventions to encourage COVID-19 vaccine uptake in Michigan communities that have disproportionately suffered from its devastating effects,” Resnicow said. “By addressing their unique structural and cultural determinants of health, we hope to reduce unnecessary disparities in COVID-19 incidence, morbidity, and mortality."

“To have any impact on behaviors, to identify perceived trustworthy sources of information, to understand the fears that exist and how to address them, we have to talk with people and listen to people, we have to be in the community” says Marsh. “This additional CEAL funding from NIH not only allows us to study the challenges around COVID-19 vaccine access and uptake, it allows us to take action, in partnership with community thought leaders, to improve access in community focused, community relevant, and community led ways, which makes it a triple win."

For more information about Michigan CEAL, please visit www.michiganceal.org.

OTA: 1 OT2 HL 156812