The SouthCoast Community Foundation announced today it is awarding a total of $433,567 from the SouthCoast Emergency Response Fund in its first round of grants to address COVID-19 vaccine equity and hesitancy. The Community Foundation is partnering with city health officials and leaders to invest strategically in Brockton, Fall River and New Bedford, to ensure that all community members become aware of the benefits, gain access, and get vaccinated.
Earlier this year, the Community Foundation approached nonprofits, city health directors and community health centers to identify solutions to tackle the disparity between the state average and the local communities average, particularly in communities of color. As of May 14, the fully vaccinated rate in Massachusetts is 43.8 percent. Collectively, the rate in Brockton, Fall River and New Bedford is lower than the state at approximately 31.9 percent.
“We were worried that members in our communities were reluctant to take advantage of the vaccine or were potentially being left out of the process,” said SouthCoast Community Foundation Director of Engagement Sarah Rose. “When the Emergency Response Fund was established 14 months ago, we tackled the urgency of food security, housing, mental health, and child support. Now that vaccines are available, it is critically important that we partner with local non-profits to get everyone healthy again.”
An award of $116,167 is going to “United We Help Vaccinate Greater Fall River,” a program run by the City of Fall River’s Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Mayor Paul Coogan in collaboration with the United Way of Greater Fall River, United Neighbors of Fall River, SSTAR, and Healthfirst Family Care Center. Virtual call centers are being established with multi-lingual “Vaccine Navigators” who will assist individuals with pre-registration on the state’s website or securing appointments with local sites such as CVS. This service will be available for the next six months. ”
Boston-based nonprofit Partners in Health, together with the City of New Bedford Health Department will receive $150,000 to help plan and implement broad public health resilience efforts and hire staff to support the Health Department’s equitable vaccine outreach to New Bedford residents, particularly its most vulnerable populations.
In addition, New Bedford nonprofit Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores is receiving $10,000 to tackle vaccine equity. They will hire bi-lingual staff to work with clients to register for vaccine appointments and educate reluctant clients on vaccine benefits.
Brockton Area Multi-Services, Inc. is receiving $107,400 for their COVID-19 Awareness campaign to increase the greater Plymouth County understanding of vaccine safety and the benefits of getting vaccinated. And an additional $50,000 has been awarded to Brockton Neighborhood Health Center to support equitable distribution of the vaccine and increase confidence through outreach and low-threshold access to immunization.
The SouthCoast Community Foundation is a nonprofit serving thousands of people throughout Southeastern Massachusetts who share a common goal of improving the quality of life through philanthropy. Since 1995, the Community Foundation has distributed over $50 million from more than 200 funds to humanitarian, educational, and cultural organizations in the region. For more information, visit www.southcoastcf.org.