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Public Affairs

Health education collaboration garners federal support

May 4, 2007

Photo of SF State health education studentsA partnership between San Francisco State University and City College of San Francisco (CCSF) was awarded a prestigious U.S. Department of Education grant to create a national model for community health education. The $600,000 grant from the Fund for Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) will support curriculum development for the Metropolitan Health Academy, a model program designed to encourage and assist ethnically diverse students to pursue long-term careers in community health.

"We view this support as a show of confidence by the U.S. Department of Education in SF State's and CCSF's 15 years of collaboration on the community health front," said Mary Beth Love, professor and chair of the Health Education Department in SF State's College of Health and Human Services. "FIPSE funds only the top 3 percent of grant applications and only those deemed to have the highest potential for lasting national impact." Love is co-investigator on the project with Vicki Legion, a CCSF faculty member.

Love said the academy's curriculum will focus on finding the most effective ways to improve community health. Although the United States spends twice as much on health care as any other industrialized country, it is only 26th in the world in terms of infant mortality and 30th in life expectancy. The latest research indicates that the most important components to health are not one-on-one visits between patient and health practitioner but community-level interventions. Academy students will study and participate in public health campaigns such as anti-tobacco initiatives and efforts to remove junk food from school campuses.

"The Metropolitan Health Academy will help foster a new generation of students to be effective leaders and advocates for eliminating inequalities in health," said Legion. She added that the academy will help students "develop a sophisticated understanding of how to change policies and build coalitions and programs."

Other important goals of the project are to amend academic policy to allow community college students to transfer 100 percent of the community college credits they earn to four-year universities and establish more hands-on learning experiences in the community.

The project coincides with an upcoming PBS television series, "Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick," intended to spark a national conversation about the social determinants of health. SF State and CCSF are part of a consortium that plans to initiate public discussion and incorporate the series into the college classroom.

The SF State Department of Health Education and CCSF's Department of Health Education and Community Health Studies partner on many community-based projects intended to eliminate health inequities and to diversify the public health and primary care workforce. One project, Community Health Works, is a nationally recognized model for community-based centers that focus on public health and primary care for low-income and immigrant communities.

-- Denize Springer
Photo: Courtesy of SF State Department of Health Education


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Last modified May 4, 2007 by University Communications