The Health Foundation of South Florida (HFSF) today announced it will provide $1.5 million in funding to local nonprofits to address COVID-19 racial and ethnic disparities by increasing outreach, education and access to diagnostic testing in some of the region’s most vulnerable communities. The investment is part of a coordinated, data-driven, targeted plan to help reduce coronavirus transmission in existing and potential Miami-Dade and Broward “hot spots,” where residents are at higher risk for infections and severe outcomes because of social and economic conditions. The grants will support efforts to:

  • Develop new technology that predicts specific areas and neighborhoods where outbreaks or spikes are likely to occur so that interventions can be tailored;
  • Deliver thousands of at-home tests for people who have limited access to transportation, and facilitate the creation of pop-up and mobile testing centers in at-risk communities;
  • Link patients who test positive to critical resources such as food and health care; and
  • Advocate and help inform decision-making by local government through policy and system change recommendations.

HFSF is providing grants between $35,000 and $160,000 to five organizations who will drive education and community outreach efforts, help identify barriers to care and coordinate the delivery of tests. In selecting the recipients, the Foundation placed an emphasis on funding and partnering with trusted Black- and Hispanic-led groups already embedded in the communities. The recipients are:

  • Healthy Little Havana, a neighborhood coalition that promotes healthy living in Little Havana.
  • James Wilson Bridges, MD Medical Society, the South Florida chapter of the nation’s oldest Black medical association.
  • Centro Campesino, which advocates for and supports the economic advancement of farmworkers in Homestead and South Dade.
  • The Allapattah Collaborative Community Development Corporation, which works to ensure the equitable development of Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood by preventing the displacement of its small businesses and residents.
  • YMCA of South Florida, the well-known nonprofit that nurtures the potential of kids, promotes healthy living and fosters a sense of social responsibility, and which will expand the role of their community wealth workers to conduct outreach and support testing efforts in Broward County.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated exactly how critical it is for everyone in our community to have access to quality health care,” said HFSF President and CEO Steven E. Marcus. “It has also shown us the tremendous impact social and economic conditions can have on people’s ability to stay healthy plus how inequity can drive disturbing disparities. Our goal with this important investment is to address those disparities but also to reduce transmission among our most vulnerable neighbors.”

“There were two key factors that drove this investment for us,” said Janisse Schoepp, HFSF’s Vice President of Operations and Strategy. “First: that the pandemic is both a health crisis and an economic one. We see the need to do everything we can to keep our economy open, which is why we wanted to focus resources on the low wage working population, many of whom are essential workers. Second: that the availability of testing must be more equitable and widespread. To help us accomplish that, we integrated trusted organizations to guide outreach and education efforts in sectors of our community where residents struggle to access the care they need.”

As part of the investment, HFSF also partnered with Spatially Health, a data analytics and predictive modeling health tech company headquartered in Coral Gables, to develop the Health Foundation of South Florida COVID Vulnerability Index, a digital mapping tool that predicts high-risk areas where potential outbreaks or spikes are likely to occur. Created exclusively for HFSF, the map captures Census tract and block level data to help community partners identify exactly where interventions are most needed and can reach the highest number of vulnerable people.

“The Health Foundation is leading our community in managing its response to this pandemic,” said Hillit Meidar-Alfi, CEO of Spatially Health. “Our tool is helping them efficiently and effectively develop mitigation strategies for these underserved and at-risk communities so that they feel and know they’re supported in trying to stop the spread of this virus.”

In addition, HFSF is granting $650,000 to Ready Responders, a New Orleans-based on-demand health service that delivers care through telehealth and other technologies. They will provide at-home COVID testing to residents of low-income housing developments or areas where access to a car or other means of transportation is a challenge. Comprised of a highly trained, multidisciplinary team of paramedics, EMTs, and nurses, Ready Responders has offered similar services in other major metropolitan areas such as New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New Orleans. Through their partnerships, they have also developed a system to prevent the delay of results and ensure patients receive quality care in a timely manner.

HFSF’s $1.5 million commitment follows its earlier investment of nearly $500,000 for COVID-19 local relief efforts, to support the basic needs of individuals as well as those of nonprofit organizations working on the frontline to help vulnerable sectors across Miami-Dade and Broward.

ABOUT HEALTH FOUNDATION OF SOUTH FLORIDA The mission of Health Foundation of South Florida is to invest in and be a catalyst for collaborations and policy and systems changes that improve the health of South Florida communities, with a focus on vulnerable, low to moderate-income populations. Established in 1993, the foundation has awarded nearly $131 million to nonprofits that provide programs and services in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @HealthSFL.