U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19

Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19 is an initiative that will support projects to demonstrate the effectiveness of local government implementation of evidence-based health literacy strategies that are culturally appropriate to enhance COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and/or other mitigation measures (e.g., public health prevention practices and vaccination) in racial and ethnic minority populations and other socially vulnerable populations, including racial and ethnic minority rural communities. This initiative will align with, but not duplicate, existing federal efforts to disseminate resources for COVID-19 responses.

The disparities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have shown the importance of improving health literacy related to COVID-19 within racial and ethnic minority populations. Individuals with low health literacy have been reported to have higher rates of emergency room visits and hospitalizations, worse preventive care and health outcomes for children, and increased mortality compared with individuals with higher health literacy. Researchers have reported that health literacy likely is a factor impacting adherence to COVID-19 mitigation strategies, and Healthy People 2030 notes that low or limited health literacy skills are more prevalent among certain population groups (e.g., racial and ethnic minority populations and limited English proficient individuals). Evidence shows that lower access to information about COVID-19 (e.g., disease rates at a local level, opportunities for testing and treatment, and behavior that may modify disease risk) among racial and ethnic minority populations effects individual decision-making and health behavior during the pandemic. Thus improving health literacy on COVID-19, which includes increasing access to culturally and linguistically appropriate health information, can contribute to improved responses to public health strategies for COVID-19 and related health outcomes among racial and ethnic minority populations.

Recipients are expected to:
1) Develop a disparity impact statement using local data (e.g., the CDC Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/placeandhealth/svi/index.html) to identify racial and ethnic minority populations at highest risk for health disparities, low health literacy and not being engaged or reached through existing public health messages and approaches for promoting COVID-19 public health recommendations (e.g., for testing, contact tracing, vaccination and other efforts to mitigate the impact of the virus).

2) Develop and implement a health literacy plan, that incorporates the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care (National CLAS Standards), to increase the availability, acceptability and use of COVID-19 public health information and services by racial and ethnic minority populations and others considered vulnerable for not receiving and using COVID-19 public health information.

3) Partner with local community-based organizations including local health departments and community health centers to develop and implement: (1) the health literacy plan, in order to ensure cultural and linguistic appropriateness for racial and ethnic minority populations and other vulnerable populations; and (2) a plan for sustaining adherence to COVID-19 and other future public health recommendations.

4) Partner with a Minority Serving Institution (see: https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/assets/PDF/2020_Minority_Serving_Institutions.pdf) when possible to establish and implement an ongoing quality improvement process and project evaluation. Recipients should use the quality improvement processes to refine the health literacy interventions that support improvements in the disparities identified in the disparity impact statement. The project evaluation should determine whether the health literacy intervention was implemented as planned, whether it reached the target population, and whether there were any changes in the access, use and outcomes of COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and related activities (e.g., contact tracing, preventive behaviors).

Amount: $250,000,000 is available for awards for up to two years as follows:
* Approximately 30 awards for urban communities of up to $4,000,000 each
* Approximately 43 awards for rural communities of up to $3,000,000 each

Eligibility: Applicant eligibility is limited to local municipalities. Examples include: county or parish governments and city or township governments.

Deadline: April 20, 2021

Resource Information
Funder U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Eligibility Local Government
Resource URL: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=330807
Sector COVID-19 Emergency Response, Health
Grant Amount $0-$4,000,000
Deadline April 20, 2021