Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $499,973)
Samuel Merritt University (SMU) is requesting funding to implement "Health Bridge: Transforming Health & Higher Education Access for Victims of Gender-Based Violence through Nursing Education & Culturally Informed Services," (Health Bridge) a field-generated innovative initiative aimed at increasing and improving healthcare service options and expanding higher education access for victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking in underrepresented communities. This innovative program addresses critical gaps in service provision and access through a multi-faceted approach. The primary activities of the Health Bridge program include educating future healthcare practitioners in culturally responsive and trauma-informed care, in partnership with MISSSEY and Highland Hospital. Additionally, SMU's state-of-the-art Health Science Simulation Center will create custom simulation-based learning experiences, infused with best practices, to provide nursing students and practitioners hands-on experience working with victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking.
Furthermore, Health Bridge aims to improve victims' access to higher education, reducing racial inequities and removing barriers for a historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected community (Priority 1A), particularly in the health sciences and nursing fields, by providing financial aid and responsive on-campus supports. This will empower victims to pursue educational opportunities and careers in healthcare, fostering their long-term empowerment and well-being. The service area for the Health Bridge program includes underrepresented communities affected by gender-based violence across the state of California, with a particular focus in Northern California where most SMU graduates are employees. Health Bridge also qualifies for Priority Consideration 1B. As such, SMU will collaborate with MISSSEY, a Black, Woman- and survivor-led, Oakland-based nonprofit who provides culturally relevant and holistic support to youth of color in the San Francisco Bay Area experiencing trafficking, sexual exploitation, and other forms of sexual violence. MISSSEY will receive 40% of the award to further reduce health disparities and improve outcomes for victims of gender-based violence.
The intended beneficiaries of the Health Bridge program are victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking who face barriers to healthcare access, victimization in healthcare environments and challenges pursuing higher education and entering the healthcare workforce. SMU will work closely with MISSSEY and an evaluation consultant to implement and assess the impact of Health Bridge effectively. These partnerships will enhance the program's reach, cultural relevance, and sustainability, ensuring that the unique needs of each community are addressed. Through culturally responsive practitioner training and responsive medical services, the program aims to transform the lives of victims and contribute to reducing health disparities in these extremely vulnerable victims of crime.