Kristen Choi

The UCLA School of Nursing is among sixteen organizations to receive a Health Equity Innovation Fund award.

The awards from the AARP Center for Health Equity through Nursing and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an initiative of AARP Foundation, AARP, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), are for projects offering promising solutions aimed at eliminating structural inequities, particularly structural racism, within the nursing profession, health systems, or community, and for projects that help improve access to care and services for those most disproportionately impacted by health disparities. The 16 projects sharing the over $700,000 in awards also support the advancement of one or more of the recommendations in the National Academy of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity.

The award will fund a demonstration project titled: ‘Let’s Get Set’ to achieve racial equity in tax credit receipt and family health. The project involves implementing a novel tax filing app, Let’s Get Set, designed for low-income parents by partnering with healthcare workers as trusted messengers. The project is led by a unique team of academic, community, and start-up partners. Dr. Kristen Choi from the UCLA School of Nursing and Dr. Cecile Yama from the UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program will lead the evaluation as Co-PIs.

“We hope this intervention empowers nurses and healthcare organizations with a practical way to address a policy-based manifestation of structural racism in the tax code,” said Dr. Choi. “Tax credits are under-utilized in marginalized communities. There is evidence that tax credits can improve parent and child health and close racial disparities in health outcomes. Our project aims to increase receipt of tax credits by families who can benefit most through a novel partnership.” 

The 16 winning projects are from: California (3), the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland (2), Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin (2) and West Virginia.

Structural racism is pervasive within the nation’s health and health care systems, and despite progress, still poses significant barriers to health and wellbeing for far too many. Additionally, health and wealth disparities disproportionately affect people of color, as well as older Americans, women, people with low-income, those with disabilities, those from LGBTQ communities, and those who live in isolated rural communities. 

“This is our first time offering this award and we received an impressive number of applications addressing a range of issues and potential solutions,” said Susan C. Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior vice president and director of the AARP Public Policy Institute, and chief strategist of the Center to Champion Nursing in America (CCNA) and Family Caregiving Initiatives. “It’s clear to me that nursing recognizes its role and is committed to advancing health equity. It’s an exciting time for our profession, and for the Campaign and the AARP Center for Health Equity through Nursing. We have work to do, and we are all in.”  

“Longer, healthier lives are not just the result of individuals making healthy choices,” said Jean Accius, PhD, senior vice president for AARP Global Thought Leadership. “Good health and longevity are simply not available to everyone in this country. There are structural barriers and biases in the health care system and how it’s funded.” He continued, “I am very proud of AARP’s commitment to supporting nurses in the fight against health disparities.”

“Nurses are everywhere in our communities – from the bedside to our schools and in board rooms,” said Beth Toner, RN, MSN, MJ, and senior communications officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). “They see firsthand the impact of the structural injustices baked into the systems that impact health. At RWJF, we understand that their expertise and innovation are absolutely essential to dismantling structural racism within our health systems and beyond,” she continued. “And for the same reasons, we are helping to fund these awards. The innovation, passion and commitment we see in all these grantees is exactly what I expect from nurses.”

The awards will be administered by CCNA at the AARP Center for Health Equity through Nursing. (Read more below.)

Read more about the projects here. 

About the AARP Center for Health Equity through Nursing and the Campaign for Action: 

The AARP Center for Health Equity through Nursing serves as a vehicle for change and national resource for advancing health equity. CCNA is an initiative of AARP Foundation, AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and it runs the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an initiative of the same organizations building a healthier America through nursing. Since its founding in 2007, CCNA has created national and state multi-sector networks to stimulate collaboration, innovation and spur for better health and well-being through nursing.