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Connection with communities: Berkeley Public Health expands student social impact programming

Berkeley students, long known for their drive to make a difference, now have a new avenue for partnering with communities—while receiving grant funding—to develop innovative solutions to public health challenges.

Berkeley Public Health’s newly launched Social Impact Innovation Grant Program—supported by a generous gift from Kathy Chiao and Ken Hao—empowers undergraduate and graduate students at Berkeley to both formulate and implement community-based projects to improve health equity. The program encourages collaborative project teams that include participation from students across academic disciplines, including public health, business, engineering, data science, and beyond.

Student-led teams will proactively identify public health challenges, collaborate with communities interested in addressing these issues, and devise sustainable, people-centered approaches that generate positive change. Applications are due September 24, 2023. Up to 15 teams selected for the program can receive up to $15,000 in funding to turn their ideas into action.

Through a combination of tailored workshops offered to program participants and hands-on experience gained during project implementation, students will strengthen critical public health skills like leadership, team building, budgeting, and community organizing.

“Students are increasingly seeking service learning opportunities. Innovative social impact programs like this allow students to put concepts from the classroom directly into practice in support of health equity,” said Kelly Horan, an MPH ‘23 alumna and manager of social impact innovation programs at UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

The program serves as part of a broader effort to educate and inspire the next generation of public health innovators, changemakers, and arc benders. Berkeley Public Health faculty are actively engaged in community-based participatory research, Master of Public Health students must complete a hands-on practicum, and our Changemaker microcourses—such as Community Engagement in Public Health and Health Care and Leadership for Public Health Changemakers—encourage students to be active contributors to the community.