In the midst of the pandemic, Howard University stepped up to provide relief for underserved communities and the HBCU will be able to further its efforts thanks to the help of a new grant. The Washington, D.C.-based school announced it has received a $1.59 million endowment to help with vaccination efforts in communities that have been hit hardest by the public health crisis.
The grant was provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies under its Greenwood Initiative; an effort created by the organization to address systemic racism and advance Black wealth. With the funding from the endowment, Howard University will work with the District of Columbia to create an on-site vaccination clinic, a mobile COVID-19 unit and a call center; all in an effort to eliminate the socioeconomic disparities surrounding vaccine appointments. Research revealed African Americans are three times more likely to contract the virus compared to white individuals. Studies also showed the Black community accounts for 17 percent of the frontline workforce, putting them at higher risk for exposure.
Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick believes the support from Bloomberg Philanthropies will be instrumental in tackling the barriers that are standing in the way of vaccination accessibility. “I am immensely grateful for the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative,” he said in a statement. “Howard University plays an outsized role in caring for the Black community in Washington, D.C. While this is always the case, it has been especially true during the pandemic. We have already vaccinated more than 25,000 people locally, but there are still many more who have struggled to access the vaccine and continue to be at greater risk. By helping fund our mobile unit, Bloomberg will enable us to vaccinate more of the Black community, a critical step in mitigating the effects of a devastating virus that has disproportionately affected African-American individuals.” Bloomberg Philanthropies also provided the HBCU with $32.8 million to support the education of students pursuing careers in medicine.
News about the gift comes nearly a year after Howard University opened a free COVID-19 testing site in Northeast Washington, D.C.