Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) will receive $1 million from the UNC Board of Governors and the N.C. Policy Collaboratory at UNC-Chapel Hill to fight COVID-19. The UNC Board of Governors announced that it is making six such $1 million awards to the UNC System’s six historically minority-serving institutions. The funding will be awarded on July 1 and must be spent by December 30, 2020.

WSSU will use its funding to build on a current NIH-funded pilot study that explores the feasibility of training HBCU students as community health workers to deliver evidence-based interventions to address chronic disease. This research will be led by Hayley Jackson-Figueroa and Kineka Hull. In addition, faculty led by Zagros Madjd-Sadjadi will engage the Hispanic and African American communities to better understand the long-term impact on university enrollments and the probability of ongoing social and economic mobility in these communities. A third study will also explore to what extent poverty, disability and minority status relate to COVID-related disparities for vulnerable minority populations in the Piedmont Triad area. This study will be led by Tammara Thomas, LaKeisha Rogers, and Felicia Simpson.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on minority communities due to grave disparities in health care access and economic mobility,” said WSSU Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson. “This grant will allow us to do critical work to not only help understand the myriad impacts these disparities have on people of color but also to better prepare our graduates to address those disparities.”

Darrell Allison, chair of the HMSI Committee, said the awards are designed to support research and activities that help fight the spread of COVID-19. 

“This is yet another opportunity for the UNC System to show the meaningful impact that our historically minority-serving institutions are making in their respective regions and communities they serve,” said Allison. “I am confident that this partnership and these programs will provide real-life solutions in the fight against COVID-19, today, and could be a model for how our state can more effectively confront tomorrow’s crises as well.”