Community collaborators Je’Wana Grier-McEachin, executive director of the Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement (ABIPA), Ameena Batada, associate professor of health and wellness at UNC Asheville, and Jill Fromewick, research scientist at the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) have been awarded an Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) grant totaling $350,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their research on perceptions of racism and health among African Americans in rural Western North Carolina.
The three-year grant award is one of 15 projects selected for funding in the third cohort of Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, a leadership development program led by the University of Minnesota with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Designed for teams of two researchers and one community leader, Interdisciplinary Research Leaders supports engaged research, crafted and conducted by innovative teams to explore a problem and apply a solution in real time, thereby making an immediate positive impact in their home communities.
“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program will provide our team an opportunity to build on our previous work together and become better community-based and participatory researchers. I am looking forward to working with a wide range of stakeholders in the region to develop the project’s focus,” said Grier-McEachin.
The grant-funded project will extend the trio’s work to research health disparities among African Americans in rural areas of Western North Carolina, contributing to a better understanding of how race/ethnicity and geography interact. Their goal is to inform institutional practices that may reduce the impact of racism and positively influence health outcomes. An advisory group of church and community leaders will provide guidance through a Community-Based and Participatory Research and Action (CBPR-A) approach to ensure that the project is responsive, iterative and accountable to its many stakeholders.
“Ultimately, we hope to develop translational materials that service providers and institutional decision-makers in rural jurisdictions can utilize in their work to reduce health disparities,” said Batada.
First though, the researchers will meet with stakeholders and plan and conduct surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews.
“Because this research will be guided in collaboration with community partners and those impacted by our findings, we hope to generate actionable data to increase racial equity across our rural region,” said Fromewick.
To learn more about RWJF’s other leadership development programs, and to meet other participants, visit http://interdisciplinaryresearch-leaders.org/.