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Hearst Foundations Awards KGI $250,000 Grant, Funding Scholarships for CSU Graduates Pursuing Community Medicine

Hearst Foundations—national philanthropic resources for organizations in culture, education, health, and social services—recently awarded Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) a $250,000 grant. This grant will be divided into eight one-year tuition scholarships for California State University (CSU) students entering KGI’s Master of Science in Community Medicine (MSCM) program.

CSU is the country’s largest and most ethnically, economically, and academically diverse university system. This attribute makes CSU graduates a natural fit for the MSCM program, which aims to diversify the healthcare field.

In March 2021, KGI entered a Memo of Understanding with CSU to create a pipeline for qualified CSU graduates to join the MSCM program.

Dr. Cynthia Martinez, Associate Dean of KGI’s MSCM program, said

“We reached out to Hearst to inspire students to pursue the healthcare fields while fulfilling their passion for positively impacting the health outcomes for underrepresented and underserved communities.” 

Hearst Foundations has been affiliated with KGI for over a decade. This partnership has resulted in several grants, including the most recent one.

“First, KGI sends us their proposal,” said Paul “Dino” Dinovitz, Executive Director for Hearst Foundations. “Then we make site visits, and that’s where the proposal comes to life. You develop relationships, meet people, and understand more about the initial proposal. It’s been a pleasurable experience.”

Underrepresented and underserved communities often experience more significant disease burdens than other populations due to socioeconomic factors, lack of preventative care, and the fact that providers often do not reflect the diversity of their communities. The latter can breed mistrust, and patients may feel hesitant to reveal certain information to their providers, request procedures, or seek medical care in the first place.

KGI’s MSCM program strives to improve health outcomes for these communities by focusing on preventative care, working intimately with specific communities to understand better and meet their needs, and attracting students—and future providers—who come from diverse backgrounds and are more representative of these communities.

Consequently, providers will help to build those relationships of mutual trust and understanding that are critical to improving community health on all levels.

Although the inaugural cohort for the MSCM program received full scholarships from L.A. Care, limited scholarships were available for the second cohort, who are finishing their first year.

Unfortunately, the lack of financial aid created significant (and, in some cases, insurmountable) barriers for the students who would most benefit from—and enrich—the program.

“When we have conversations with prospective students about the MSCM program and our mission to prepare skilled physicians and health professionals from underrepresented communities, many of them tell us, ‘That’s exactly what I want to do,'” Martinez said. “‘I want to go back and give to these communities. But I can’t do that because I don’t have the financial means to do it at this time.'”

Now, KGI can once again offer substantial scholarships to MSCM students.

“We are very thankful to Hearst Foundations, as these scholarships will make a huge difference in the lives of these students,” Martinez said. “We’re able to prepare these talented students from underserved and underrepresented communities to become our future healthcare providers and improve the health outcomes and decrease the disease burdens in these communities.”

To be eligible for an MSCM scholarship, applicants must graduate from a CSU school and be accepted into the MSCM program.

KGI is giving preference to CSU first-generation college graduates dedicated to working in underserved or underrepresented communities.

Click here to learn more about the MSCM program and jumpstart your future in this exciting field.