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City of Albuquerque Awarded $3.95 Million COVID-19 Health Literacy Grant

Funds effort to improve public health equity, reduce barriers to access

July 2, 2021

ALBUQUERQUE – The City of Albuquerque Office of Equity and Inclusion was awarded a $3.95 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve COVID-19 vaccination rates in populations that are disproportionately impacted by the virus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Mayor Tim Keller’s administration focused the City’s efforts on keeping Albuquerque one of the heathiest cities in the region and meeting the needs of our most vulnerable populations, knowing that some populations would be hit harder because of structural inequities and barriers.

The City adapted, working across departments and with community partners to strengthen the local safety net. The two-year grant will allow 10 project partners to hire a total of 25 new community health providers and support staff. Community health workers are trusted peers from the communities they serve who are trained to teach health literacy and connect people to resources.

“Although Albuquerque is emerging as one of the healthiest cities in the region, we still face major inequities when it comes to public health. This grant represents an opportunity for us to support safety-net providers to continue to meet their primary missions while assisting the city, state and nation in addressing COVID-19,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “Community service providers are among the best equipped to improve health literacy and connect residents to a broader network of care. No one should have their health impacted because of these barriers, and we’re grateful for this major grant to continue breaking them down.”  

The City will partner with community health workers in local clinics and with community-based organizations to reach immigrants, refugees, Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian and Pacific Islanders, and other vulnerable populations with factual information about the disease and help them access health services and other resources they may need to stay healthy, including access to rental assistance, utilities, employment, and food.

“This project recognizes and addresses the higher needs of people while providing culturally and linguistically appropriate health education and resources to survive COVID,” said Michelle Melendez, Director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Minority Health to the City of Albuquerque is part of a $250 million initiative targeting 73 cities across the nation to improve health literacy, defined as a person's ability to find, understand and use information and services to help them make health-related decisions for themselves and others.

The grant will fund four health providers, four community-based organizations and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center’s Office of Community Health and Project ECHO. The health providers are First Choice Community Health Care, First Nations Community Health Source, Casa de Salud, and One Hope Centro de Vida. The community-based organizations are Native American Professional Parent Resources, Catholic Charities, New Mexico Asian Family Center, and the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs.