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September 27, 2017
Contact: HHS Press Office
[email protected]

HHS Office of Minority Health awards $5 million to help communities address the opioid crisis, childhood obesity and serious mental illness

As part of the Administration’s efforts to address the opioid epidemic, childhood obesity and serious mental illness in communities throughout the country, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced just over $5 million in new cooperative agreement awards to 15 organizations. The awards were made through the OMH Empowered Communities for a Healthier Nation Initiative (Empowered Communities Initiative), which was created to help minority and disadvantaged populations in communities disproportionately affected by the opioid epidemic, childhood obesity and serious mental illness.

The 15 organizations receiving the Empowered Communities Initiative funds are:

Organization Focus City State Award
Mariposa Community Health Center, Inc. Obesity Nogales AZ $349,446
California State University Long Beach Research Foundation Obesity Long Beach CA $350,000
The Morehouse School of Medicine, Inc. Opioid Atlanta GA $350,000
The University of Chicago Serious Mental Illness Chicago IL $334,620
The Community Clinic, Inc. Obesity Silver Spring MD $349,722
Boston Medical Center Corporation Opioid Boston MA $349,734
Regents of the University of Michigan Opioid Ann Arbor MI $349,978
Mississippi State Department of Health Obesity Jackson MS $350,000
The Institute for Family Health Obesity New York NY $349,260
Community Prevention Partnership of Berks County Obesity Reading PA $349,707
Meharry Medical College Opioid Nashville TN $350,000
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Obesity Edinburg TX $344,689
Virginia Department of Health Opioid Richmond VA $350,000
City of Huntington Opioid Huntington WV $350,000
Marquette University Obesity Milwaukee WI $350,000
      Total $5,227,156

“We selected the opioid crisis, childhood obesity and serious mental illness as our top three clinical priorities at HHS because they are three of the country’s most pressing public health concerns,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D.

The Empowered Communities Initiative provides funding to communities grappling with some of the nation’s most immediate and growing public health challenges. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of overdose deaths involving opioids in the U.S. has quadrupled since 1999, and more than 500,000 people died from drug overdoses from 2000 to 2015. The CDC also reports that obesity affects about 12.7 million children in the U.S. (2011-2014) and obesity rates are higher among African Americans and Latinos. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there were nearly 10 million adults with serious mental illness in 2014, and people with serious mental illness are more likely to be unemployed, arrested, have inadequate housing and die at an early age.

“Communities throughout the country are struggling to meet the serious and urgent challenges posed by the opioid crisis, and the effects of childhood obesity and serious mental illness,” said Dr. Matthew Lin, deputy assistant secretary for minority health and director of the HHS Office of Minority Health. “The Empowered Communities Initiative is designed to help communities meet these critical public health challenges by supporting collaborations at the local level that will lead to community-based solutions.”

The Empowered Communities Initiative promotes community-based collaborations, including academic research centers and prevention centers, to improve the health of communities where opioid misuse, childhood obesity and serious mental illness pose the greatest threats.

For additional information visit: www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at https://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: September 27, 2017

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