FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contacts:
Elaina Jackson, Fahrenheit Creative Group, LLC, elaina@fcgworks.com, (601) 371-8003
Tennille Collins, Mississippi Public Health Institute, tcollins@msphi.org, (601) 398-4406
Mississippi Public Health Institute Awarded Five-Year Grant to Improve Health of African-American Families on the Gulf Coast
Collaborative Effort to Focus on Improving Healthy Behaviors among Minority Populations
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Public Health Institute (MSPHI), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage in partnerships and activities that improve Mississippi’s health, was recently awarded a five-year, $3.4 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The grant, one of only 31 awards from CDC’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program, will support collaborative efforts to improve the health and well-being of African American families, mothers, and babies in Jackson, Hancock, and Harrison Counties.
“We believe this is a tremendous opportunity to make a positive long-term impact on the health of thousands of families on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and demonstrate the impact of building stronger relationships between public health organizations, health care providers, and community-based organizations,” said Roy Hart, MSPHI chief executive officer. “Everything we learn over the next five years will benefit every Mississippi community, and we are excited about sharing the insights we gain and new information we learn that will ultimately help improve health across the state.”
The collaborative project will focus on increasing community support for breastfeeding and educating the community on the health effects of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. MSPHI has engaged several local and state partners to support these efforts, including the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) Office of Women Infants and Children (WIC) and Office of Tobacco Control (OTC), Mississippi State University Social Science Research Center (SSRC), Coastal Family Health Center, Gulf Coast Healthy Communities Collaborative (GCHCC), Gulf Coast Breastfeeding Center, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), and several hospital primary care systems along the Gulf Coast.
Funding from the grant will support community-based activities that will directly involve coastal residents and connect African American mothers and families to resources that support and promote healthy lifestyles. The project’s multi-sector coalition of local community stakeholders will focus on advancing population health in the three counties. A full-time community resource coordinator, housed at Coastal Family Health Center, will link individuals with a range of services, including Baby Cafés and tobacco cessation resources.
“As a safety net health care provider in a state challenged by many health disparities, Coastal Family Health Center is grateful to be a partner in this exciting initiative that focuses on the very core of where sustainable change occurs—the family, specifically mothers and babies,” said
Angel Greer, chief executive officer of Coastal Family Health Center. “This initiative is a stepping stone for partners across our Gulf Coast to create a network to strengthen and empower families and improve our health outcomes.”
The community-based coalition, coordinated by GCHCC, will be facilitated by a manager who will engage community members and stakeholders in program planning, implementation, and evaluation utilizing local data to ensure the project is responsive to the current and emerging needs of the community and African-American mothers, families, and babies.
“The Gulf Coast Healthy Communities Collaborative exists to bring together partners across multiple sectors to catalyze data-driven action at the intersection of community development and health,” said Tracy Wyman, healthy communities liaison for GCHCC. “We look forward to supporting the work of the Healthy Families Mothers & Babies Initiative through the Community ExCHANGE online data platform and working together to connect organizations and programs for a healthier Mississippi Gulf Coast.”
MSPHI and its partners expect this project to improve overall health along the Gulf Coast that can be sustained through the network of partnerships that are created. These partnerships will help increase support and use of systems and services for chronic disease prevention, strengthen community support for breastfeeding, and reduce tobacco use over the next five years. For more information on the REACH project, contact Tennille Collins at tcollins@msphi.org or (601) 398-4406. For more information on MSPHI, visit www.msphi.org.
About the Mississippi Public Health Institute MSPHI is a nonprofit entity established in 2011 to protect and improve the health and well-being of Mississippians, serving as a partner and convener to promote health, improve outcomes and encourage innovations in health systems. We cultivate partnerships aimed at program innovation, health resources, education, applied research, and policy development.

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