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Ethnic Health Institute
A national model for university and community-based partnerships

Mission & What We Do

The Ethnic Health Institute will be a national model for university and community-based partnerships that promote health equity for underserved and ethnic community members; and prepare and support SMU students to serve diverse communities, impact health equity, and increase workforce diversity.

EHI works collaboratively to bridge SMU students, faculty, and staff with diverse community members and the organizations that serve them; aligning opportunities for learning and service to the community. 

Where your dollars
will make a difference...

New Central Valley Health Equity Program

The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) understands that there are some unique and critical health equity issues facing communities in the Central Valley. 

The CCE seeks to launch a Central Valley Health Equity Initiative to ensure that Samuel Merritt University is doing a part in creating healthier communities in Sacramento, Fresno, and beyond. 

Health Equity is especially important for the [Central Valley] where many migrants, underserved, underinsured, and non-English speaking families reside. It is imperative that SMU focus on the long existing disparities in the valley that have been especially pronounced during the pandemic, particularly the shortage of physicians in the region, lack of access to medical care, and lack of health care workers who come from and understand the valleys diverse patient population and the health issues affecting the region. Donating to the Central Valley Health Equity fund will support efforts to reduce these disparities while improving population health, preventing disease, and responding to behavioral health and substance abuse challenges.

Real Student Impact

"I didn't see many people that looked like me serving as healthcare professionals when I was younger. It might have set the stage for me, and presumptively others, to have a better rapport with their healthcare provider and be more receptive to health-related suggestions/options. It's exactly why I chose an FNP career path so that I can function as a positive light in my community. Donating to the Central Valley Health Equity Initiative equates to supporting the health and future of the community that serves as California's agricultural backbone, therefore supporting oneself."

   -L. Pete Haynes - ELMSN-FNP '20

"For the past ten years, I have gained insight into communities throughout California that are often forgotten. Although I have worked in large, beautiful cities, I have found myself most rewarded in small, rural towns. The people in these areas, often Hispanic migrant workers and laborers, face challenges to health and healthcare accessibility. As a future Nurse Practitioner in primary care, it is my commitment to provide them with high quality care, genuine interest in their health and well-being." 

   -Oscar Perez RN, FNP-S, PTA / ELMSN-FNP c/o 2023 

Additional Details on Central Valley Health Equity Program

This program will focus primarily on 2 areas:

Pathway building for K-16 students to learn about healthcare careers; The Central Valley Health Equity Initiative will work with local schools and nonprofits to reach diverse and underrepresented students in order to teach them about the different healthcare professions SMU has to offer. 

Direct healthcare services to marginalized communities; building upon some of the existing work SMU is doing in the Central Valley, students, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to work with community partners to provide healthcare education and direct services. 

Some examples of partnerships that will be built or expanded through this initiative:

Mobile health van for immigrant and refugee communities in Sacramento: In partnership with the Sacramento Public Library System, SMU will be supporting the SHOWmobile, a new all-electric mobile health van that will be going out into underserved communities to connect them with health resources and provide critical health screenings. 

Outreach to Central Valley Native American communities: Not only does SMU’s 5-year Strategic Vision for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion outline goals to increase the number of Native American students enrolled in programs, but Native American communities face pressing health challenges that SMU can help address. Native communities face a higher risk of diabetes, chronic liver disease, respiratory illnesses, and suicide than other Americans. This initiative will allow SMU to dedicate some much-needed resources toward building a strong relationship with Native American communities in the Central Valley to do our part in providing healthcare services and education. 

Health Paloozas and a stronger presence in schools: Taking an “upstream approach” to addressing current and future healthcare workforce shortages and a critical need for more diverse healthcare providers, the Central Valley Health Equity initiative will dedicate resources to more robust outreach to BIPOC students in order to educate them about healthcare careers. This includes holding full-day Health Palooza events at our campuses to bring students to see our state of the art lab spaces, hear from students about their personal journeys, and participate in workshops that will get them excited about a career in healthcare. This initiative will allow us to strengthen current relationships with like schools like Health Professions High School in Sacramento which has a student population of majority Latinx and African American students, and Katherine Johnson Middle School which supports many recent refugees from the Middle East, in addition to building new relationships with schools throughout the Central Valley. 

Strong Start - Board of Regents Challenge
5:00PM DEADLINE: Our SMU Board of Regents is challenging us to give early! If we reach 50 donors before 5:00pm on May 17th, we will unlock $10,000 from the Board to be shared amongst our program funds equally.
50 / 50 Donors
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