Wake Forest University School of Medicine Receives $340,000 Grant from The Duke Endowment

February 12, 2024

Wake Forest University School of Medicine has been awarded $340,000 from The Duke Endowment to help patients in historically Black communities access and navigate the health systems and social service resources in Forsyth County.

Rachel Zimmer, an assistant professor of implementation science at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and founder of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s Mobile Health Program and Fresh Food Rx Program, was awarded the grant for her project, “Training Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods ‘Community Ambassadors.’”

The program is a partnership with Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods (NBN), a long-standing nonprofit in Forsyth County whose mission is connecting people, strengthening voices, and leveraging resources to help create safe, just, and self-determined neighborhoods for all residents. 

The Community Ambassadors program will help create NBN’s place-based community health worker programming to support community-based health navigation and will work together with the trained CHWs to identify ways to improve their integration as team members within healthcare teams. The program was developed in direct response to feedback from community members during comprehensive listening sessions conducted by NBN in 2022. Residents shared a critical need for amplified support to navigate the complexities of the local health care systems comprehensively.

The new team of community health workers will be hired from the communities in which they will serve, working to bridge the disparities in the quality and accessibility of healthcare services available to all. 

“Our partnerships help to advocate and provide whole-person care, identifying and addressing trauma in communities and impacting health inequities in a meaningful way,” Zimmer said.

“This is a great example of how The Duke Endowment is looking to fund programs where medical institutions are partnering with community organizations to make change,” said Chris Collins, associate director of the health care program area at The Duke Endowment.

Those who wish to learn more about supporting “Training Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods ‘Community Ambassadors,’” and other philanthropic projects may contact Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s Office of Philanthropy and Alumni Relations at 336-716-4589 or visit Giving.wakehealth.edu.

Media contacts:

Jenna Kurzyna, jkurzyna@wakehealth.edu
Joe McCloskey, jmcclosk@wakehealth.edu