WSU partnership will expand COVID vaccinations in underrepresented communities


Wichita State is partnering with Gov. Laura Kelly and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in an initiative to increase COVID-19 vaccinations to underrepresented communities across Kansas.

Last week, the governor announced that WSU’s Community Engagement Institute (CEI) will work together on the Increase the Reach initiative, which provides an additional opportunity for community-based organizations to receive funding to continue their vital work in promoting health equity through vaccinations. The program specifically aims to reach socially vulnerable populations and those experiencing low vaccination rates, including racial and ethnic minority populations and rural communities.

“Events over the last few years have brought health disparities into a sharper focus,” said Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, in a press release from the governor’s office. “These grants will support the work of community-based organizations in ensuring equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Wichita State’s CEI will act as the grant administrator for Increase the Reach, helping to promote the available funds to eligible organizations.

“WSU will be collecting applications and connecting with additional partners to help review and approve projects,” said AAron Davis, director of the CEI’s Center for Public Health Initiatives. “We will also be helping organizations in developing and delivering the project and activities that are fundable in this grant. We will be responsible for regular reporting to KDHE and the governor’s office.”

Grants are awarded to applicants with documented success in reaching vulnerable populations, with grants expected to range from $50,000 to $250,000. Eligible organizations include but are not limited to Federally Qualified Health Centers, safety net clinics, state-funded community clinics, community-based organizations, and other nonprofits.

Davis said that the CEI’s role in the Increase the Reach initiative supports Wichita State’s priorities and promotes Kansas’ growth and economic prosperity.

“The purpose of this grant is to help address health inequities that exist in the state as they relate to vaccine-preventable diseases,” Davis said. “Good health is a key factor for our society. If we want WSU to play a role in helping to drive education and economic prosperity in the state, it is important that we support efforts such as this to help every Kansan achieve their highest levels of health.”

First-round applications should be submitted for consideration by 5 p.m. central time on Oct. 15, 2021. Additional application rounds will run thereafter. 

Get more information and apply for Increase the Reach

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