Healthy Savannah Provides $2,450 in REACH Grants to Healthy Equity Events

Thursday, August 17th, 2023

August 15, 2023, Healthy Savannah is providing $2,450 in grant funding to support health equity education and awareness at two upcoming Savannah area events.

  • Back-to-School Youth Health Fair is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26 at Historic First Bryan Baptist Church, located at 575 W. Bryan St., in downtown Savannah.

  • Back-to-School Community Block Party 2023 is planned for 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug 26 at Greater Gaines Chapel AME Church, located at 1006 May St. in downtown Savannah.

The funding was made possible through a supplemental grant awarded in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to broaden initiatives of the five-year Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant awarded in 2018. The overall goal of the supplemental grant initiative is to focus on elevating COVID-19 and flu vaccine access, awareness, and acceptance, in certain low-wealth communities. The funds are administered by Healthy Savannah and the YMCA of Coastal Georgia.

The individual mini-grants awarded were in the amounts of $1,200 for the Back-to-School Youth Health Fair and $1,250 for the Back-to-School Community Block Party. To date this year, grants totaling $3,200 have been awarded to three other faith-based events, including Community Connection Friend and Family Day, presented in July by Spirit-Led Ministries at Feiler Park; #HealthyMe #HealthyUs held in May at True Light Church Savannah; and The 6th Annual Love & Soul Family Festival in June at Tanger Outlets in Pooler.

Prior to the most recent awards, the program administrators have provided 20 mini-grants from $500-$2000 for similar faith-based events in the greater Savannah area, totaling $23,200. The mini-grant program is also administered in conjunction with Healthy Savannah’s Faith and Health Coalition, which has championed health equity programs in the local faith community since 2016.

“We are planning to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations to all students and their caregivers at the Back-to-School Youth Health Fair,” said Cecelia Kurtz, event chairperson. "We will be working in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Public Health of the Coastal District (DPH) and the Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), which will provide the vaccines. We’re also inviting community partners to provide information on behavioral health, vaccine requirements for school entry, hearing and vision screenings, oral health, nutrition and managing chronic diseases.”

“Our Back-to-School Block Party at Greater Gaines Chapel will be a fun-filled and informative gathering for students, families, church, and community members in preparation for a successful school year,” said Jasmine Williams, one of the event’s co-organizers. “The day will include school supplies giveaways, information on community health services, blood pressure checks, COVID-19 and flu vaccine awareness and safety protocols, a game bus, a rock climbing game, healthy snacks, food and games for children and families. We will also provide voter registration information from Fair Count and COVID vaccinations offered by J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care Center."

“We believe it is through festive and fun family events such as these that we find the most effective ways to communicate social movements and community programs with the underserved populations we need to reach,” said Elsie Smalls, Ph.D., operations manager. “Healthy Savannah will be there as well with giveaways and information about healthy walks and free and discounted fresh food programs that everybody loves learning about.”

For more information about First Bryan Baptist’s Back-to-School Youth Health Fair, contact Cecelia Kurtz at [email protected] or 240-274-0047.