Center for Urban Health Equity
Mental health issues are the most significant health concern in Baltimore’s Black community, and they influence choices that affect physical health, such as decisions about food consumption and drinking, says Kim Dobson Sydnor, Ph.D., ’97, dean of Morgan’s School of Community Health and Policy and director of the Center for Urban Health Equity. CUHE, which started in 2021, aims to connect faculty with community members and organizations to engage in research to improve the health of Baltimore’s residents, and to build a network of resources to give residents support, Dr. Sydnor says.
“But we are really wanting to do the work that we think resonates with community,” she continues. “(It) should be driven by the community to some extent, because the center’s mission as a state-funded entity really is to have an impact on the citizens of Baltimore City, in particular, and then the broader state.”
Housed within Morgan’s School of Community Health and Policy, CUHE has three full-time research faculty members and one part-time research scientist on staff, Sydnor says. Initial financial support included $500,000 from the $40 million that philanthropist MacKenzie Scott gave the University in 2020, and an annual $3-million appropriation commitment to Morgan’s operational budget from the State of Maryland.
One of the center’s initiatives involved setting aside $100,000 from the Scott donation to use as seed money for 12 community health and wellness projects based on work the center has done with a partner group, the nonprofit Family League of Baltimore, Sydnor says. The league managed the 12 grants provided to individuals and organizations.
Within five years, the center should be a fully functioning entity that runs data analytics, trains post- and pre-doctoral students, engages in solid collaboration around heath equity work and conducts research that changes policies and communities, Sydnor says.
“We want to make sure that health is a right,” she says, “not a perpetual fight.”