Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have placed people from many racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of COVID-19. Before the pandemic, various studies already showed that minority groups suffer from a higher rate of chronic disease. The impact of COVID-19 has exacerbated existing health conditions and affected efforts to mitigate the pandemic.
Secondary effects of the virus include: an uptick in domestic violence, increased behavioral/mental health problems, and exacerbated conditions in people with existing mental and/or substance use disorders (SUD). In Indiana, there is only one professional mental health provider per 500 people, and one in 3,000 for Black people. People with mental disorders and SUD are 2 to 6x more likely to have co-occurring chronic physical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, than individuals without behavioral health conditions (McKenzie & Company, 2020). In addition, the most aggressive rise in opioid death rates over the last few years has been in the state’s Black population.
To help combat these factors, the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) is implementing through its Office of Minority Health, Together We Will, a grant program investing over $5,000,000 during 2021-2023 in community initiatives that address health inequities for disparate and marginalized populations of color and indigenous people.
The Together We Will grant process is applicant-friendly, as it’s designed to guide organizations through the process. Applications for the Together We Will grant program will be accepted by the Office of Minority Health on a rolling basis, with mini-grant awards ranging in amounts from $1,000 to $75,000. First-time applicants are encouraged to apply, as technical assistance is provided to improve an idea if not selected. The process encourages success, inspiring confidence for organizations to go after other grant vehicles. The rolling submission window runs through June 2023.
Applicants must be located within Indiana. These include local health departments, hospitals, local government agencies, local coordinating councils, recovery-oriented systems of care, recovery hubs, drug-free coalitions, and other community coalitions and non-profit organizations that have experience in leading community health improvement activities.
The Together We Will program is focused on funding community projects impacting eight public health priority areas: infant & maternal mortality, environmental justice, substance use disorder, mental health, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, access, violence, and structural & systemic barriers.