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Community-Based Outreach to Build COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence

As part of the American Rescue Plan, HHS and HRSA have awarded nearly $390 million to develop and support a community-based workforce that will engage in locally-tailored efforts to build vaccine confidence and bolster COVID-19 vaccinations in underserved communities.

The CBO Program began in June 2021, with four cohorts of awards to a total of 158 national, regional, and local organizations and their community-based organization partners:

Program Highlights

Read about the impactful work that these featured Community-Based Workforce awardees are doing in their communities.

The Association of Asian/Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO)

The Association of Asian/Pacific Community Health Organizations in Berkeley, CA founded and established the Community Health Worker (CHW) Workforce Collaborative using $9.5 million in HRSA funds awarded in June 2021. This collaborative expands existing COVID-19 vaccine outreach and education initiatives led by Health Centers and community-based organizations that serve vulnerable and medically underserved Asian, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (A/AA and NHPI) communities in a handful of states.

The CHW Workforce Collaborative has hired, trained, and deployed more than 250 CHWs who speak over 36 A/AA and NH/PI languages across 22 local community health organizations based in 12 continental U.S. states and Hawai’i. This workforce delivers vaccine outreach/education activities, including interpretation and translation, and organizes events to administer vaccine doses for under-resourced communities of color.

With strong infrastructure and multi-sectoral partnerships already in place, under this new award AAPCHO will expand the CHW Workforce Collaborative to serve a total of 36 continental U.S. states and Hawai’i, which includes all 29 high-priority states targeted by HRSA. Through its proposed project, AAPCHO’s existing and new partners will be able to expand their COVID-19 service areas (e.g., new counties, rural areas, bordering state lines), and engage with new target populations (e.g., youth aged 5-11, newly arrived Afghan refugees) to remove structural barriers for COVID-19 vaccinations in a culturally and linguistically appropriate way.

Public Health Institute (PHI)

Public Health Institute in Oakland, CA is currently working with Black, Native American, Latinx, Asian American/Pacific Islander, immigrant/migrant, and low-income older adult populations in 200 counties in HHS regions 4, 6, and 9 as part of HRSA's $11 million award announced in June 2021. Through this award, PHI and its partners train and engage vaccine ambassadors and promotors to serve as trusted messengers and engage community members through a combination of canvassing, door-to-door outreach, telephone outreach, and communication activities. Partner organizations include Migrant Clinician's Network, National Council on Aging, Meals on Wheels America, USAging, Chromatic Black, and Hawaii Public Health Institute. These trusted messengers connect people, once engaged, to COVID-19 vaccines and social needs (food, housing, health insurance, etc.).

In July 2021, HRSA awarded PHI another $1 million to hire students as Community Health Workers (CHWs) and build a robust training program to include mental health first aid, de-escalation skills, motivational interviewing, self-assessment tools, and training via case scenarios to ensure they are prepared to provide COVID-19 vaccine outreach and education in a holistic care setting. This grant includes community efforts in California, New Mexico, Colorado, and Michigan.

Building on its existing infrastructure, Public Health Institute and COMMUNITIES RISE (RISE)—an alliance of partners connected to over 2,400 organizations across the nation, all deeply rooted in community—will use the new HRSA funds to reach Black, Native American, Latinx, immigrant/migrant, low-income, older adult, and LGBTQ+ populations that are not yet vaccinated. RISE and We In the World (WE), will deploy its on-the-ground partners to serve 19 of the 29 (66%) high-priority states identified by HRSA, serving a total of 294 counties across these states.

Project HOPE

Project HOPE in Bethesda, MD received a $1 million HRSA award in July 2021 to serve Harris and Hidalgo Counties in Texas, providing vaccine outreach and education to underserved, uninsured, and ethnic minority populations, including those with limited English proficiency. Working with local clinic partners, Project HOPE is providing culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach to underserved communities through a network of diverse partners, including county health departments, local businesses, churches, organizations serving a substantial Afghan refugee population, and local food banks.

An example of the COVID-19 vaccine outreach includes offering the COVID-19 vaccines to those waiting in a drive-through food bank line. Clients receive vaccine information and can receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the car while they wait for food distributions. This drive-through food bank is just one creative way the program's community health workers are reaching into their local community to meet people where they are and get as many people vaccinated as possible. They are also providing vaccines at churches, schools, community centers, and apartment complexes.

The new award will build on this model to target 37 counties within the five high-priority states of Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Georgia to provide resources, training, and support to CHWs to educate and assist individuals in receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, with a focus on vulnerable and medically underserved communities, including racial and ethnic minority groups. Project HOPE has engaged a network of Free and Charitable Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers in these 37 counties with the highest unvaccinated but willing populations, to implement the outreach work and engage the community. The partners conducted a community needs survey to assess the barriers to vaccine administration in these areas and they will use the new HRSA funds to address these concerns, which include lower state vaccine allocations and staff shortages.

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