11 Nonprofits Providing Medical Access for Black Communities


11 Nonprofits Providing Medical Access for Black Communities

COVID-19.Diabetes.Mental Health
Ilima Loomis
By Ilima Loomis
Jun 22, 2020
Close up look of two black children and mother happy because they are able to receive medical treatment

The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests have converged to shine a much needed light on disparities in the health care system for the Black community.

Black Americans are less likely to have access to adequate medical care, and more likely to experience discrimination in a health care setting, such as not receiving the same tests, screening, or treatment as White patients. As a result of this, those in the Black community suffer from chronic diseases like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes at higher rates than other groups.

A number of organizations are working to bridge those gaps and advocate for change at both the local and national levels. Below are 11 nonprofits that are supporting Black medical access. Please consider following and donating to their resources to ensure continued treatment and accessibility for their communities. Please email [email protected] to submit an additional organization to this list.

AAPC (African American Planning Commission)

This multi-service housing, social service, community development and economic development nonprofit is based in New York City, and seeks to address the root causes of homelessness, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, poverty, and economic dependency. Programs include the development of transitional and affordable housing integrated with social services and a supportive community.

In addition to housing, AAPC offers domestic violence services, programs for children and youth, senior housing and services, and housing for people with HIV/AIDS, mental health disorders, special needs, and those in substance abuse recovery.

African American Health Coalition

Based in Portland, Oregon, this nonprofit has worked to promote health and wellness for the African American community since 1989. In addition to hosting community education events, services include diabetes and chronic disease self-management programs, diabetes prevention lifestyle coaching, education to promote colorectal cancer screening, insurance enrollment assistance, fitness programs, and a “Spice it Up” healthy eating program led by African American chefs.

Environmental health initiatives include advocating for tobacco/smoke-free parks and increasing the number of retail stores providing access to healthy fruits and vegetables in Black communities.

American Sickle Cell Anemia Association

Sickle Cell Disease is significantly more common among Black people, with approximately 1 out of every 365 African American babies born with the illness. The American Sickle Cell Anemia Association provides newborn testing, genetic counseling, youth programs, and other services in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and coordinates support groups and educational programs nationwide.

BEAM Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective

With a mission to remove the barriers Black communities encounter in accessing mental health care and emotional healing,Los Angeles-based BEAM offers training, education, and community events. Programs include “mental health 101” training for the staff of community organizations and people who support Black communities, a class on Black masculinity and mental health, and a “Reflect and Rejuvenate Retreat.” A Southern Healing Support Fund supports Black people in the rural south with free grocery cards. The nonprofit’s Black Virtual Therapist Network helps people connect with licensed Black therapists who are certified to provide telemental health services.

Black AIDS Institute

Almost 16,000 Black people were diagnosed with HIV in 2018, and 72% of women living with HIV in the U.S. are Black. Located in Los Angeles, the Black AIDS Institute was founded in 1999 as the only Black “think and do tank” aimed at ending the HIV epidemic in the Black community. Services include an in-house clinic and peer outreach group in LA, as well as national education and outreach programs.

Black Women’s Health Imperative

The first nonprofit founded by and for Black women to advocate for the health needs of Black women and girls, the Black Women’s Health Imperative has been working to bring about health equality for more than 35 years. Signature programs include Change Your Lifestyle, Change Your Life, a diabetes prevention program; My Sister’s Keeper, a leadership initiative for women in the Historically Black College and University network; and SIS Circles, an empowerment program for teen girls. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.

California Black Women’s Health Project

Established in 1994, the California Black Women’s Health Project works toward improving the health of California’s 1.2 million Black women and girls through advocacy, education, outreach, and policy. The Inglewood-based nonprofit trains Black women to become health advocates through community organizing and engagement, and also advocates for policies that aim to eliminate health disparities for Black women. Education programs focus around disease prevention, intimate partner violence, nutrition and fitness, mental health, reproductive health, menopause, and other health concerns.

Center for African American Health

This Family Resource Center in metro Denver, Colorado provides culturally sensitive health education and health promotion programs to Black children and adults. Along with providing free prostate cancer screening and a hypertension management program, this nonprofit offers services including health insurance literacy and enrollment, nutrition education, a class on “mental health first aid” for youth and adults, and a Faith and Health Initiative, which partners with faith communities to promote wellness and disease prevention.

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Center for Black Women’s Wellness

Located in Atlanta, the Center for Black Women’s Wellness is a community-based organization dedicated to advancing the health and well-being of underserved Black women and their families. A Wellness Clinic provides affordable OBGYN care including well-woman visits, screenings including Pap tests and breast exams, pregnancy testing and family planning, STI screening and treatment, and mammogram referrals.

A Safety Net clinic provides no-cost services for uninsured women and men, including primary health care and non-emergency care; chronic disease management for hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and other conditions; confidential HIV testing; and mental health referrals and services. The nonprofit also offers a variety of community programs to promote breast health education, cardiovascular disease and stroke prevention, and more.

Grand Rapids African American Health Institute

Founded to address health disparities in the Black community, the Michigan-based Grand Rapids African American Health Institute offers services including a 10-week women’s health and wellness course, diabetes prevention for men, senior care and outreach, and a Strong Father’s program that promotes men’s health, healthy relationships, and parenting.

The nonprofit also researches health disparities with the Health Equity Index, which provides education and support for African Americans entering health care careers, and advocates for equity in medical care.

Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness

Based in Chicago, this community organization works to support and sustain mental wellness for Black women. Programs include mental wellness education with workshops, professional development opportunities, and online resources. The organization offers low-cost or sliding-scale community support services, with individual therapy, group therapy, support groups, and events.

Sista Afya also helps women access mental health and wellness resources through events that connect with service providers. An online store features wellness coloring books, journaling supplies, and supportive cards aimed at Black women.

Addressing equality for all

Addressing and correcting systemic health care issues for Black communities will not happen overnight.  But with the help and drive of the non-profits listed here, the door to affordable and critical care will become accessible to more individuals.  At RxSaver, we believe in inclusivity, equality, and justice for all and are proud to offer a platform that helps everyone save on prescription costs.

Ilima Loomis

Ilima Loomis

Ilima Loomis is a freelance writer and journalist who specializes in writing about health care, HR, science, travel, and Hawaii. You can find more of her work at ilimaloomis.com. Ilima is a regular contributor to the RxSaver blog.

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