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Jacoby and Flores Receive Hillman Emergent Innovation Program Grants

The new Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation grant program will provide funding for early-stage prototype and pre-evidence work to transform care for vulnerable populations.

Penn Nursing’s Sara Jacoby, PhD, MPH, RN, Assistant Professor, and Dennis Flores, PhD, ACRN, Postdoctoral Fellow, each received one of these new grants that provides a one-year, $50,000  award to accelerate the development of bold, new interventions targeting the needs of vulnerable populations. “Funders tend to shy away from this stage of development, despite the fact that support is vital,” said Rachael Watman, Vice President of Programs at the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation. “Risk taking is key in launching work that has the capacity to radically reimagine and improve how care is delivered to communities in need.”

 The winning projects are:

  • A technology-assisted program for long-term care of traumatic injuries among low-income urban populations. Jacoby is the principal investigator. Conventional trauma care is siloed, making it particularly difficult for disenfranchised people to achieve a full recovery. Through the use of wearable devices like wrist monitors and a web-based platform called Way to Health (WTH), which uses the tech devices many people already have (e.g., cell phones and computers), this program will redefine the scope of conventional trauma care and allow nurses to follow recovery metrics like physical activity and sleep patterns, and develop referral mechanisms and incentivize recovery-promoting behaviors.
  • Parents ASSIST, a program to help gay, bisexual, and queer (GBQ) teenage boys avoid HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by equipping their parents with communications skills to have affirming and supportive discussions with them. Flores is the principal investigator. Parents ASSIST will offer skill-building techniques for parents and help them overcome perceived impediments to communication with their sons, and may be the first project to present GBQ topics and communication modelling skills for parents through a dedicated website.

The Hillman Emergent Innovation Program and the Hillman Innovation Dissemination Program are part of the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation expanded grant portfolio that bookends the Foundation’s flagship Hillman Innovations in Care Program (HIC) to create a pipeline for innovation. The Hillman Foundation’s Innovation portfolio (Emergent Innovation, Innovations in Care, Innovation Dissemination) will support projects in all phases of the innovation lifecycle, from pilots and prototypes to broad-based implementation. Awards this year will serve a diverse set of populations and focus on opioid addiction, maternal mental health, advance care planning, traumatic injury rehabilitation, intimate partner violence, adolescent sexual health, and aging in place.

“This expansion of our grant making speaks to the diversity and quality of nursing-driven efforts that seek to remove barriers and bring more equitable and person-centered care to people who desperately need it,” said Ahrin Mishan, Executive Director of the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation. “We feel privileged to play a role in helping to nurture, develop, and scale this important work.”

Through these two new grant programs more than $1.6 million in funding to a total of seven projects to improve the health of vulnerable populations has been awarded.