May 24, 2024

Mississippi organization receives grant for health equity

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A national bio-tech company, Genentech, announced that a Mississippi based community organization is among 10 chosen to share a $6 million grant.

All of the organizations are working to advance health equity by improving the conditions in their communities that affect health and wellbeing.

Jackson-based Southern Echo will begin by reaching out to southern states interested in the conversation of health organizing. From there, they will build out a curriculum to better help address issues that can be presented to policy makers.

Rachel Mayes, the executive director of Southern Echo, said health plays out in the lives of everyone on a daily basis. She said the grant from Genentech will allow Southern Echo to do what they have in the past. They support organizations in the south in civic engagement, community organizing, the importance of the census, redistricting and voting. This time, the focus is on health equity. 

“So, we are using the same model around just health organizing this time around to understand again, who are those organizations that are already having conversations about health organizing and want to go deeper to understand what policies are at play, what policies they can impact, right? And understand what legislation, how that plays out in the lives of all of us on a daily basis,” Mayes stated.

Health is critical for everyone, but it’s not the only factor leading to true wellbeing.

“Well, if I am viable, then I need transportation to the job. I need education to get the job. I need food to help me do the job,” said Mayes.

Advancing health equity is the purpose behind Genentech’s Community Health Justice Fund, which supports nonprofits.

Mayes stated, “And so, when we are talking about education, and we’re looking at adolescents in particular, are they on a trajectory to be exposed to careers at middle school and high school level? Right? But also, does that adolescent have housing? Are they living in the car? Are they homeless? Right? Do they have food? Is it just the school that they receive their meals from?

Mayes will be the first to tell you that finding those answers doesn’t come by simply handing out a card and saying, “Come see me.” 

“It cannot be where we open say a front store office. Right? It has to be the type of support where someone is going to the community, having conversations with people, maybe door by door to say, ‘Hey we are here to help,’” she said.

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