Rita And Alex Hillman Foundation Doubles Funding For Early-Stage, Nursing-Driven Innovations

Grants will accelerate the development of interventions that promote equitable, person-centered, and trustworthy care

NEW YORK, Oct. 03, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation today announced 10 grants to support bold, early-stage interventions designed to improve the health and healthcare of marginalized populations.

A dramatic increase in the number of annual grants – the most ever awarded through the Hillman Emergent Innovation (HEI) program – was made possible thanks to the generosity of Leonard A. Lauder. The awards, totaling $500,000, will accelerate the development of new models that challenge conventional strategies for delivering effective, just, and equitable care.

“Nursing has a long history of developing innovative solutions to some of healthcare’s most intractable problems,” said Ahrin Mishan, Executive Director of The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation. “The community-centered approaches we are funding this year are a testament to the vital role nurses play in improving the health of some of society’s most overlooked and minoritized populations.”

HEI Grantees Deliver Better, More Equitable Care

The 2023 HEI awards will launch a diverse set of programs across the United States that address significant health and healthcare problems in new ways. This year’s recipients are:

  • Improving Heart Health of Appalachian Caregivers Through Physical Activity
    Caregivers in rural Appalachia are at heightened risk for cardiovascular disease. This project will pilot and test the real-world efficacy of a novel intervention to decrease cardiovascular disease risk among rural Appalachian caregivers.
    Principal Investigators: Jennifer Smith, PhD, RN and Debra Moser, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN, University of Tennessee

  • Optimizing Opioid Use Disorder Services Across the Jail-to-Community Continuum
    Opioid-related overdose deaths are skyrocketing in Washington State and more than half of its people who regularly use opioids are incarcerated annually. Harnessing the expertise of frontline providers, this nurse-led, scalable intervention has the potential to radically improve the continuity and effectiveness of overdose prevention care for people transitioning from jail to community settings.
    Principal Investigator: Sarah Gimbel, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, University of Washington

  • Promoting Self-Care of Older Women Experiencing Homelessness
    Middle-aged and older women experiencing homelessness face a constellation of traumatic life events and manage multiple physical and mental health conditions. This grant supports a feasibility study of an enhanced, trauma-informed, chronic disease self-care program designed to meet the complex needs of this population.
    Principal Investigator: Benissa Salem, PhD, RN, MSN, PHN, CNL, University of California at Los Angeles

  • Increasing PrEP Utilization by Black Women Through AI
    Black cisgender women are disproportionately underrepresented among patients using PrEP for HIV prevention. Combining the holistic approach of nurse practitioners with AI technology, this interdisciplinary initiative will deliver personalized, culturally-tailored healthcare communication to augment HIV prevention strategies.
    Principal Investigators: Chen Zhang, MPH, PhD and Mitchell Wharton, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, CNS, ACRN, AAHIVE, University of Rochester

  • Enhancing Sexual Health Awareness Among Rural Youth
    Many schools in rural communities lack sexual education resources to support the health and well-being of adolescents. This program will engage and center rural youth in the creation of a virtual adolescent sexual health training course for school staff while simultaneously empowering young people to act as advocates among their peers. 
    Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Dickson, PhD, RN, University of New Mexico
  • Promoting Positive Parenting Skills in Unhoused Women 
    Parenting is challenging for unhoused women, particularly those who also experience interpersonal violence. This nurse-designed intervention combines trauma-informed counseling with guidance in play and learning strategies to improve the parenting skills of mothers and the wellbeing of their children. 
    Principal Investigator: Doncy Eapen, PHD, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • Centering Voices of Sexual Assault Survivors to Reduce Secondary Victimization
    Survivors of sexual assault, particularly Indigenous and Black women, are often retraumatized when seeking healthcare. This study aims to better understand the experience of secondary victimization as a means of designing more effective care for Indigenous and Black women who have been sexually assaulted.
    Principal Investigator: Ashley Ruiz, PhD, RN, Arizona State University

  • Deploying Peer Navigators for People with Developmental Disabilities
    People with developmental disabilities have difficulty communicating their healthcare needs, while clinicians lack training for how to treat this population. This bold intervention, which trains peer patient navigators to assist other neurodiverse patients navigate the health system, holds promise to ensure that differently-abled groups receive the care and attention they deserve.
    Principal Investigator: Daniel Wilkenfeld, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

  • Using Telehealth to Improve Access to PrEP for Women Sex Workers
    PrEP utilization is alarmingly low among women sex workers, who are at especially high risk for HIV infection. Designed by a multidisciplinary team, this intervention will use a community-based telehealth system to improve sex worker access to this highly effective daily medication that reduces HIV infection.
    Principal Investigator: Jessica Zemlak, PhD, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC, Marquette University

  • Delivering Peer-to-Peer Trauma Support for Black Women Experiencing Homelessness
    Black women experiencing homelessness are disproportionately impacted by traumatic stress, yet few trauma-focused programs are tailored for this population. This intervention, which leverages a peer-led model that centers the shared lived experiences of unhoused Black women, provides trustworthy guidance towards improved mental health and housing outcomes. 
    Principal Investigator: Kirsten Dickins Aryee, PhD, AM, APRN, FNP-C, Rush University

About The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation
The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation advances bold, nursing-driven innovations that promote equitable, person-centered, and trustworthy care. It is committed to improving the health and healthcare of all people, especially populations who experience inequity, discrimination, oppression, and indifference. Its goal is to help ignite and develop game-changing interventions and to cultivate a vibrant ecosystem of nurse innovators, grantees, and partners dedicated to building a healthier, more equitable future for all. For more information, please visit www.rahf.org.

Media Contact
Takouhi Mosoian, The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation (press@rahf.org)