Grand Rapids African American Health Institute (GRAAHI) is a unique opportunity for prospective students to take the first step towards healthcare careers. Their mission is to “promote health care parity in the Grand Rapids African American community through advocacy, education and research to achieve positive health outcomes.” Their vision is to ensure that all West Michigan residents will have optimal health care and benefits from health systems without race being an impediment.
Vanessa Greene, Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, was chosen to lead Hope College’s conglomerate of the GRAAHI. Each College or University will have a team of five representatives from their institution. Each conglomerate typically consists of president or provost, diversity representative, dean of natural sciences, faculty member and a student. At Hope College, the conglomerate includes: Cady Short-Thompson, the Provost, Vanessa Greene, Dave Van Wylen, the Dean of Natural Sciences, Vicki Lynn-Holmes, a professor of education and math and Yordanos Dessie, a senior studying psychology and health science.
GRAAHI received a $400,000 planning grant from the Kellogg Foundation to launch a program to attract African American and Latinx students to careers in the healthcare field. To achieve this goal, GRAAHI invited seven colleges and universities to partner with them on the planning and i m p l e m e n t a t i o n process, with the goal of submitting a proposal for a larger grant to the Kellogg’s Foundation in April 2019.
The hope is that colleges and universities will be able to provide more scholarships and expand mentoring efforts and leadership opportunities for students. It also gives Hope College seniors and graduates opportunities to cultivate leadership positions in the healthcare association. Vanessa Greene says that Hope College is excited about this initiative and committed to working with GRAAHI, partnering colleges/universities and the Hope College community to generate heightened interest, access and success in the healthcare profession for underrepresented students. Greene is optimistic about this initiative, as the goal is to enhance healthcare by creating pathways for underrepresented populations who may not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about the wide array of opportunities available to them in healthcare.