A man prepares to administer vaccines in Boston.

Barr Commits Over $2 Million for Vaccine Equity Efforts

The Foundation joins local funders in supporting equitable access to the vaccine.

Pictured above: EMT Alex Honrado prepares to administer COVID-19 vaccines at the Reggie Lewis Center Mass Vaccination Site in Boston.

As Massachusetts has been rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, concerns about equity remain paramount. As reported recently in the Boston Globe, there remain significant disparities in vaccination rates, especially for those racial and ethnic groups who have been most impacted by the pandemic.

Against this backdrop, over the past number of weeks, Barr has coordinated with multiple local funders to explore how we could best complement what the public sector is doing to address these concerns. We have been particularly focused on reaching those communities affected disproportionately by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which are communities of color.

Today, we are pleased to announce over $2 million in grants to support a range of aligned activities centered on vaccine equity.

Barr has awarded $1 million to the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers to enable the League to direct resources expeditiously to community health centers as they expand vaccination efforts. We join six other funders, which have cumulatively committed $4.35 million for this vital work.

Serving more than one million residents, Massachusetts’ community health centers are essential distribution channels in the equitable delivery of the vaccine, given their proximity to communities of color and the trusted role they occupy in their communities. As the Kaiser Family Foundation recently reported, more than half of those patients receiving first doses of the vaccine from community health centers have been people of color.

In addition, in order to support on-the-ground outreach and education efforts targeted to communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19, we are co-funding with the Boston Resiliency Fund and the Klarman Family Foundation the efforts of four community-based coalitions: the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition, the Chinatown Collaborative, the Greater Boston Latino Network, and the Center to Support Immigrant Organizing. This funding, totaling $475,000 from Barr, will support some 30+ organizations engaged in local, community-based outreach and education focused on vaccine equity.

In alignment with these efforts in Boston, we are awarding a total of $500,000 in grants to community foundations in Essex County, Greater Worcester, Western Massachusetts, and South Coast to support local regranting efforts in each region for community-based organizations focused on vaccine equity. We selected these four regions of the state because there is significant overlap between the geographic areas served by these community foundations and the twenty cities identified by the State as priorities for vaccine equity. We also have a strong working relationship with each of these community foundations as part of Barr’s Creative Commonwealth Initiative.

Finally, Barr is also providing support to the advocacy efforts of the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition, consisting of ten civil rights, racial justice and public health leadership organizations that have shaped recommendations for the State to address disparities in the vaccine rollout. We already partner with many of these organizations in other areas, and we value their leadership and perspective.

In my most recent blog post, I suggested four ways we as funders need to adapt our work based on the experience of this past year. In making this new set of grants, we went to the leaders of these various organizations and coalitions and asked them how we could help, what funding they needed, and how best to structure grants and reporting to support them. We also moved with the dispatch that this moment requires of us all – grateful for the focused, responsive, and dedicated leadership of these organizations, and their unwavering commitment to ensuring an equitable rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. We are in their debt and proud to support this work.

Learn more about Barr's COVID-19 Grantmaking

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