Health Foundation of South Florida Invests $2 Million in Florida Universities to Advance Health Equity in Underserved Communities

University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University receive grants aimed at increasing the understanding of the root causes of health inequities and developing and delivering community-based intervention programs that reduce disparities.

MIAMI, February 14, 2023  — The Health Foundation of South Florida, the region’s largest philanthropic organization focused on achieving health equity in historically underserved communities, announced it is investing $2 million in two Florida universities to foster research, innovation, community engagement, and leadership development aimed at identifying and addressing barriers to optimal health in low-income communities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University will each receive $1 million to name and launch unique initiatives that will bring together multi-disciplinary experts from across their respective universities and the community to inform the development and implementation of innovative community-based programs and collect and evaluate data — all aimed at identifying and addressing the root causes of health inequity across South Florida.

As part of the investment, the universities will forge partnerships and coordinate with regional health systems, and community organizations to support the adoption of promising interventions. UM will partner with Jackson Health System, Miami-Dade County’s public hospital, and Health Choice Network, a nationally recognized nonprofit that works with 25 health centers in Florida. NSU’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine will involve its own NSU Health and partner with Memorial Healthcare System as well as value-based primary care provider Cano Health.

“The Health Foundation of South Florida is incredibly proud to support these two important pillar universities in order to advance this critical work,”  said Loreen Chant, the Foundation’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Their comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approaches, the quality of the partnerships they have forged and their commitment to both study and design solutions with the community is impressive. We believe this is groundbreaking for our region, and an important step toward informing, shaping and implementing population health efforts that can ultimately help us achieve health equity.”

The Health Foundation of South Florida Community-Academic Collaborative at the University of Miami will support five community-academic teams charged with developing and implementing data-driven, community-engaged projects to improve health outcomes in underserved communities.  Led by UM Vice Provost for Research and Scholarship Dr. Erin Kobetz, one of first projects will focus on implementing the 33136 Initiative in Overtown, which was developed jointly with Jackson Health System to address health disparities in Miami’s Health District Key partners include the University of Miami/UHealth, JHS, Health Choice Network, Miami-Dade College, Health Foundation of South Florida, the Lennar Foundation, and Florida Blue. The aim is to develop a roadmap for health equity so that successful interventions can be replicated in other communities.

“The grant from the Health Foundation provides a unique opportunity for diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to advance health equity. This goal—which is central to the Foundation’s mission—requires a strategic commitment to leveraging the individual and collective assets of academic and community partners for sustainable social change,”  said Dr. Kobetz. “The Health Foundation has made that commitment through these awards and the University of Miami is excited to be part of this transformative opportunity to improve health and healthcare access for South Florida.”

The Partnership Advancing Equitable Access to Health and Wellbeing (PATHWell) at Nova Southeastern University’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine (NSU MD) will aim to create a national model for studying, integrating, disseminating, and measuring the causes and impacts of health inequities in underserved communities. Led by NSU Professor and Founding Population Health Sciences Chair Julie Jacko, Ph.D., and François Sainfort, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Management and Entrepreneurship, the Collaborative will work through community partnerships to raise public awareness of health inequities, as well as to develop, deliver, and evaluate community-based interventions that reduce health disparities. An expert advisory panel, chaired by Dr. David B. Nash, an internationally recognized pioneer in population health who has been repeatedly listed in Modern Healthcare’s Most Powerful Persons in Healthcare, will help inform and guide the Collaborative’s work. The grant will also support efforts to train physicians in NSU MD to mitigate health inequities and to advance changes in clinical and community practice and policy. In addition, the group will build a health equity index and dashboard that enables the monitoring of health equity status in South Florida. 

“NSU MD was created to do much more than train a skilled and diverse physician workforce. It was built to serve as a preeminent state and national resource for catalyzing healthcare leadership, excellent clinical care, and much needed population health science,” said Dr. Johannes Vieweg, NSU MD’s Founding Dean and Chief Academic Officer. “This grant award, made possible through years of investment and planning, will enable NSU MD to improve health equity and outcomes for our most vulnerable populations, and will be among the most important initiatives that NSU MD leads, through its Department of Population Health Sciences. Together with the Foundation and our multiple health system partners, we are building a distinct, community-driven population health strategy that will result in achieving health equity for all.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), health disparities are “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by populations that have been disadvantaged by their social or economic status, geographic location, and environment.”

The investment from the Health Foundation aligns with all three of the nonprofit’s three key focus areas: working at a systems level to improve access to healthcare in uninsured and underserved communities, advance the integration of social needs and clinical care delivery, and foster economic stability and other community conditions that promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

“As a Foundation, we recognize the importance of addressing the social and structural barriers that many of our South Florida residents face when making choices that impact their health,” said Health Foundation Vice President of Strategy, Dr. Janisse Schoepp. This catalytic investment seeks to bring together our academic experts and community stakeholders to find solutions that will lead to improved health outcomes and get us closer to health equity — and we’re excited to witness the impact of their work.”



The University of Miami is a private research university and academic health system with a distinct geographic capacity to connect institutions, individuals, and ideas across the hemisphere and around the world. The University’s vibrant and diverse

academic community comprises 12 schools and colleges serving more than 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students in more than 180 majors and programs. Located within one of the most dynamic and multicultural cities in the world, the University is building new bridges across geographic, cultural, and intellectual borders, bringing a passion for scholarly excellence, a spirit of innovation, a respect for including and elevating diverse voices, and a commitment to tackling the challenges facing our world.



NSU is the largest private, not-for-profit institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria as a Hispanic-serving institution. Founded in Fort Lauderdale in 1964, NSU (formerly, Nova University) has grown from a charter class of 17 PhD students to the largest private university in the state of Florida. Today, more than 29,000 students are pursuing undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional degrees across more than 31 colleges at NSU. Nearly 190,000 individuals, representing all 50 students and countries, have graduated from NSU. NSU is classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and is one of only 50 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification. NSU identifies “community” as one of its eight core values and is an asset of Broward County, serving students and community organizations with an economic impact of $3.7 billion annually in Florida.