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HHS Awards $125 Million in Workforce Grants for Community-Based Efforts to Bolster COVID-19 Vaccinations in Underserved Communities

Today, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $125 million to support 14 nonprofit private or public organizations to reach underserved communities in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Freely Associated States 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.

These awards reflect the first of two funding opportunities announced by President Biden last month for community-based efforts to hire and mobilize community outreach workers, community health workers, social support specialists, and others to increase vaccine access for the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities through high-touch, on-the-ground outreach to educate and assist individuals in getting the information they need about vaccinations.

“For many of us, it’s best to hear from a friend or community leader when deciding whether to make a big decision, like taking the COVID-19 vaccine. To reach President Biden’s goal of 70 percent of the U.S. adult population having one vaccine shot by July 4th, we are doing everything we can to reach marginalized communities with lower vaccination rates,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.  “These awards will enable trusted, community-based organizations to use strategies tailored to the populations and areas they know best to address persistent racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic health inequities.”

The workers supported with this funding will answer individual questions, help make vaccine appointments, and assist with transportation and other needs. Award recipients will collaborate with regional and local partners to ensure a broad geographic reach with the goal of getting as many people vaccinated as possible.

“Trusted messengers play an essential role in sharing information about COVID-19 vaccines, answering questions, and ultimately convincing people to get vaccinated,” said Acting HRSA Administrator Diana Espinosa. “This funding will support national, regional, and local organizations that will work directly with hard-hit, underserved, and high-risk communities to help bolster COVID-19 vaccination rates.”

For a list of awards recipients, see www.hrsa.gov/coronavirus/community-based-workforce.

HRSA has also released a second notice of funding opportunity targeting smaller community-based organizations, with awards expected to be released in July 2021.

Contact CBOVaccineOutreach@hrsa.gov with any questions.

Learn more about how HRSA is addressing COVID-19 and health equity.

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