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October 17, 2017

MeHAF grants target social, cultural barriers to ‘health equity’

The Maine Health Access Foundation has announced a new grant program aimed at gaining health equity in traditionally under-served communities.

The $75,000 three-year grants will help organizations improve health access or status in communities facing health disparities based on race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender identity disability status, homelessness or veteran status.

MeHAF will fund up to eight grants for 36 months, and each award will be $25,000 a year, beginning in May.

Organizations applying must have primary leadership from among the people they serve. The applications, which are due by noon Nov. 9, are the first step. MeHAF will invite a subset of applicants to submit full proposals in December.

The foundation said in a news release announcing the new grants that the social, cultural, physical and/or economic situations of underserved groups can have a negative effect on health.

The foundation's board and Community Advisory Committee last year agreed to deepen its commitment to health equity and invest in organizations that are led by members of underserved communities. "And doing so in a way that builds the capacity of such organizations," the foundation's website says.

"To improve the health of all Maine people, we must identify and address the reasons some groups face more barriers in our systems than others and find ways to eliminate them," the news release said. "MeHAF has a history of addressing community needs for groups like low-income Mainers, rural residents, and older adults. This program will extend this focus to other marginalized communities."

The organization said that Maine's immigrant and refugee population has grown, and the state has had a 27% increase in foreign-born residents between 2000 and 2015. Both the more than 46,000 foreign-born residents in the state, as well as its long-term Native American and African American populations, and descendants of earlier immigrants, are more likely to experience health disparities, it said.

The foundation also has grant program that supports rural organizations that collaborate on health care services.

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