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Penn State announced yesterday that the College of Medicine has been awarded a $4m grant by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of its REACH program, an acronym for “Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health.”

The program is designed to help partners carry out “locally, culturally appropriate programs to address a wide range of health issues among African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders.”

The program targets these populations because of statically significant health gaps that exist among different racial and minority groups.

The grant will be administered locally by Penn State PRO Wellness, which practices a combined strategy of prevention, research, and outreach to champion healthy choices.

PRO Wellness will work with Lebanon County’s Better Together initiative, which held their annual event earlier this month. Better Together is the brainchild of local philanthropist Jeanne Arnold, who along with husband Ed Arnold have donated millions to local institutions, including Penn State Hershey.

We know from research that Hispanic people are more likely to experience a higher prevalence of chronic diseases than non-Hispanic whites, and in Lebanon and Reading, Hispanics also experience higher levels of poverty, unemployment and a lack of health insurance than the state and national averages. This grant will provide resources to unite organizations, ideas and endeavors to address these issues.

Jeanne Arnold as quoted in the press release

Two physicians based at the College of Medicine will co-lead the grant, Dr. Jennifer Kraschnewski (Executive Director of PRO Wellness) and Dr. William Calo (asst. professor of public health sciences).

In terms of specific programming, Lebanon and Berks County residents can expect promotions of existing public recreation infrastructure, funding to support school involvement in physical activities, expansion of diabetes prevention programs, and training of bilingual community health workers to help with chronic disease prevention programs.


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