Campus News

WNY groups receive $790,000 grant to improve health of residents of Buffalo’s East Side

Ferry Street neighborhood.

The project will reach the communities that reside on Ferry Street or within four blocks to the north and south of the corridor. Photo: Douglas Levere


Published July 9, 2019

Susan Grinslade.
“Where you live can shape your health. ”
Susan Grinslade, clinical professor and public health clinical specialist
School of Nursing

The African American Health Disparities Task Force and Cicatelli Associates Inc. have received a $790,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve health outcomes and reduce high rates of chronic disease among African Americans living along Ferry Street in Buffalo.

The five-year Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant will support The Ferry Corridor Good Health Partnership, a collaboration between the African American Health Disparities Task Force (AAHDTF) and Cicatelli Associates Inc. (CAI), a mission-driven nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of health care and social services delivered to vulnerable populations worldwide.

The initiative will focus on the promotion of tobacco-free living, improved nutrition and community support for breastfeeding, and increased access to health care.

The project will reach the communities that reside on Ferry Street or within four blocks to the north and south of the corridor within the zip codes 14208, 14209, 14211, 14213, and 14215, where racial health disparities are among the highest in the city.

AAHDTF is a coalition that includes UB, CAI, Concerned Clergy of WNY, Erie County Medical Center (ECMC), Millennium Collaborative Care, NeuWater & Associates, and Population Health Collaborative of WNY.

AAHDTF leadership includes faculty and staff from the UB School of Nursing, Jacobs School, School of Public Health and Health Professions, Graduate School of Education, School of Law, School of Management, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), Center for Successful Aging, Center for Urban Studies and Center for Medical Humanities.

“Where you live can shape your health,” says Susan Grinslade, a member of the Ferry Corridor Partnership leadership group and clinical professor and public health clinical nurse specialist in the UB School of Nursing.

“One of the purposes of the REACH grant is to create opportunities for every person to achieve their personal health potential. More often than not, barriers to our health potential include race, ethnicity, education, where we live and other social factors,” Grinslade explains. “The REACH grant aims to build community relationships through collaboration with community residents to tailor interventions that are specific to their needs and where they live. The engagement process develops respect and fosters trust.”

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the REACH program,” notes Stan Martin, project director of REACH at CAI. “We are thrilled to be one of 31 recipients from across the country, and welcome the opportunity to partner with the AAHDTF to implement a participatory-based approach to reduce chronic disease amongst those with the highest disease burden along the Ferry Street corridor.”

African Americans living on the city’s East Side experience higher rates of poverty, are more likely to smoke and suffer from lung cancer, and have increased risks of hospitalization for heart failure and diabetes, according to the 2017-19 Erie County New York Community Health Assessment by the Erie County Department of Health.

The stark disparities are what led to the establishment of the AAHDTF in 2015.

“By bringing together a broad-based coalition of citizens, we’re really trying to build a movement,” says Rev. George Nicholas, convener of the AAHDTF and senior pastor of Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church.

“We’re very appreciative of the substantial support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the form of a REACH grant that will advance our ongoing efforts to move the needle and create health equity in our community.”

With a focus on public policy and civic engagement, the AAHDTF will use funding from the CDC to grow several community programs, including:

  • Million Hearts, a CDC initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes. The UB School of Nursing, Millennium Collaborative Care and other community organizations will travel to local churches to perform health screenings.
  • Healthy Corner Store Initiative, an initiative of the John R. Oishei Foundation’s Mobile Safety-Net Team to place healthy food options in corner stores on Buffalo’s East Side. NeuWater & Associates is a partner for the project.
  • ECMC Farmers Market at Grider, a seasonal market that addresses the food desert — an area where affordable, fresh food is difficult to buy — in the Delavan-Grider community of Buffalo by providing access to fresh produce and other health goods. The market also includes food demonstrations, outreach programs and gardening classes.
  • Health literacy programs in Buffalo churches, barbershops and beauty shops.

“Millennium’s Enhanced Patient Services Team has been engaged in ongoing efforts to improve the delivery of health care to Medicaid clients by focusing on positively affecting a person’s key social determinants of health, such as access to healthy foods, safe housing, transportation or gainful employment,” says Al Hammonds, executive director at Millennium Collaborative Care.

“To be successful in this mission critical area, it takes the type of partnerships and collaboration as exemplified by the African American Health Disparities Task Force, Cicatelli Associates, Hope Buffalo, ECMC and so many other community-based organizations. Millennium is proud to link arms with these dedicated organizations in these game-changing efforts.” 

Earlier this year, the AAHDTF hosted “Reimagining: Health, Education, Social Justice,” a community forum that addressed the impact that disproportionate levels of school suspensions and ticketing for small infractions have on physical and mental health in the African American community.

The organization also organizes the annual community conference “Igniting Hope: Building a Just Community with a Culture of Health and Equity.”

The daylong conference draws hundreds of activists, scholars, students, clergy and members of the public to discuss health disparities facing the African American community, as well as factors that influence these disparities, such as education, housing, employment and security.

The next Igniting Hope conference is scheduled for Aug. 16-17 at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. Featured speakers include John Ruffin, founding director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities; Moro Salifu, director of the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center at SUNY Downstate Medical Center; and Lisa Nicholas, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

To attend, visit the conference registration website.


Are you going to have a pharmacist involved with this project as well? Medication management is vital to improving health outcomes in this population.

Chris Simpson