College Awarded Grant to Support Health Equity and Diversity Work

residents packing food bags

Genentech awarded the WSU College of Medicine a grant from the 2022 The Genentech Health Equity & Diversity in STEM Innovation Fund to advance the college’s health equity work. The $750,000 grant, distributed over the next two and a half years, will directly support its organizations and initiatives. 

“This grant reflects the organizations commitment to transform the way we envision health, health education, and health care,” said Luis Manriquez, MD, community health equity director who applied for the funding alongside the Community Health Equity team. “It’s a catalyst to spark systematic change.” 

The Genentech fund supports initiatives that address challenges and seek to improve equity in health care delivery, clinical research, and the health care and science workforce. The grant funds several college positions central to these efforts at the college.  

One such position is an organizer for the Health Equity Circle and it’s local Spokane chapter. WSU is the lead academic partner for the Health Equity Circle, a network of student organizations in which students develop the skills of community organizing and partner with community organizations to advance health equity. The partnership serves as a vehicle to develop health equity training curriculum and integrate a culture of belonging into health education. 

The fund also supports a new clinic organizer and narrative lead to partner with community organizations to enact change. The clinic organizer will play a pivotal role in our clinic organizing efforts, which applies community organizing within healthcare and social service organizations as a means to expand the scope of their mission to address social determinants of health and equity. They will also play a critical role in creating clinical educational opportunities for interdisciplinary health equity education. 

The narrative lead is tasked with creating a network of artists willing to develop projects focused on accurately communicating the lived experiences and stories of the community. 

“Incorporating narratives into creative visual and artistic projects can help transform sterile and clinical spaces into community spaces,” said Manriquez. “Doing so plays an important role in centering the experience of oppressed communities and developing a culture of belonging in which all people are recognized and supported.”

Partnerships—whether organizing, clinical, or community— are critical to creating lasting and systematic change. The grant allows us to build a core cohort, one that can build out capacity to support significant health equity initiatives. The ultimate impact of this initiative is to test and refine new organizations to transform the way we envision health, health education and health care explained Manriquez. 

“Health is much larger than health care,” said Manriquez. “By engaging communities and developing community narratives of health, we expand our view of our communities and what makes them healthy.”