Small Grants: Focusing on Health Equity in a Time of COVID-19

Gianfranco Pezzino, Director

A Message from the Director of the Center for Sharing Public Health Services

As public health professionals, we have long known about the systemic inequities in our society that can lead to poor health outcomes among racial and ethnic minorities. Inadequate housing, unsafe neighborhoods, failing schools, low-paying jobs, poor-quality food, and a myriad of other inequities in our society feed off each other, putting members of minority groups at greater risk for being sicker and dying earlier than their white counterparts.

Now, COVID-19 has brought these disparities to light in the news media because people of color are once again being disproportionately affected. More Hispanics than non-Hispanics are getting sick with COVID-19. More blacks than whites are dying from it. And a greater percentage of minorities than non-minorities seem to be impacted by the economic consequences of the pandemic. It is apparent that these disparities aren’t rooted in the illness itself, but instead are caused by the conditions in which we live, work, learn and play.

Many local, state and tribal public health departments are working to advance health equity through programs or initiatives. We sense that cross-jurisdictional sharing (CJS) could be an effective way to tackle this complex issue. If this sounds like you, we would like to encourage you to apply for our 2020 Small Grants Program, which will support work on CJS arrangements designed to advance health equity by addressing:

  • Social determinants of health (e.g., affordable housing, jobs with fair pay, quality education, affordable healthy food and public safety),
  • The public health response to COVID-19,
  • Structural racism, or
  • Other related issues.

Through this competitive program, we will award up to five grants for an amount of up to $10,000 each for a project period of up to eight months. Besides supporting your initiative, one of our goals is to learn from you; therefore, grantees will be expected to share the progress of their efforts during the project period, share results and lessons learned at the end of the project period and share longer-term activities and results 12 months after the project period ends. In addition to funding, we will provide technical assistance about best practices in cross-jurisdictional sharing, so you will learn from us while we learn from you.

For a complete description of the Small Grants Program and to apply, visit our website:

Everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, should have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Are you partnering in public health to advance health equity? If so, we want to hear what you are doing so that others can learn from you. Please contact us at to tell your story or to ask questions about our Small Grants Program.

— Gianfranco Pezzino, Director