Morehouse School of Medicine Receives Nearly $9.7 Million Grant from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Build COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence

HealthWorks program aims to increase COVID-19 vaccine rates through targeted, culturally competent outreach efforts in Georgia and Tennessee.

Arletha LivingstonArletha W. Livingston (Lizana), PhD
Director, MSM Innovation Learning Lab

ATLANTA – FEBRUARY 15, 2022 Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) has received a nearly $9.7 million grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create HealthWorks, a program to increase vaccine confidence in Georgia and Tennessee through targeted, culturally competent and outreach education, with a focus on communities of color.

Morehouse School of Medicine received the award from the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration as part of its Community-Based Workforce for COVID-19 Vaccine Program. Arletha W. Livingston (Lizana), PhD, MPH, MBA, director of MSM’s Innovation Learning Laboratory for Population Health and an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine, will lead the project as principal investigator.

"Morehouse School of Medicine's mission is leading the creation and advancement of health equity," said Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, FACOG, President and CEO of MSM. "Throughout the pandemic, MSM has spearheaded a variety of innovative programs to address COVID-19, especially in hard hit and underserved communities. This grant will allow MSM to expand our tireless efforts to reduce health disparities. We are so thankful for the leadership of Congresswoman Nikema Williams in helping Morehouse School of Medicine advance our mission.”

"We are very excited and thankful to bring together community partners in Georgia and Tennessee to augment the mitigation efforts already in place to address COVID-19," said Dr. Livingston (Lizana). "With this grant, we will be able to extend MSM’s current reach and be able to significantly improve the lives and health of even more patients in need."

HealthWorks aims to reach individuals in the most vulnerable and medically underserved communities, which often have high levels of COVID-19 infections and lower-than-average vaccination rates. Over the next nine months, the initiative will utilize thousands of community outreach workers, including public health professionals, patient navigators, and social support specialists, who conduct education sessions, COVID-19 testing and vaccination events, and other outreach efforts.

“This grant is a huge boost in the support of the community-engaged health workers,” Dr. Livingston (Lizana) said. “This award represents a much-needed show of support for this under-recognized workforce, who are uniquely positioned to provide frontline support to our communities.”

HealthWorks unites the broad expertise of MSM, Meharry Medical College in Nashville, the Georgia Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19, Tennessee CEAL, state and local health departments, community organizations, and small businesses. The program will be conducted statewide in Georgia, with particular emphasis on Fulton and Clayton Counties in metro Atlanta. In Tennessee, 95 counties across three Grand Divisions will participate.

Dr. Livingston (Lizana) added that the contributions of MSM Associate Dean for Community Engagement Tabia Henry Akintobi, PhD, MPH, who serves as Director of the Prevention Research Center and Professor of Community Health and Preventive Medicine; Folashade Omole, MD, FAAFP, the Sarah & William Hambrecht Endowed Chair of Family Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine and the Medical Director of MSM H.E.A.L. (Health Equity for All Lives), a student-run clinic; and Virginia Davis Floyd, MD, MPH, Associate Clinical Professor, in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, were instrumental to MSM’s success in securing the funding.

“Building vaccine confidence is critical to increasing vaccinations, which remains so important as we encourage boosters and kids’ vaccinations,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement announcing the grants. “This investment by the Biden-Harris Administration further expands our progress in partnering with trusted local messengers to deliver needed information on COVID-19 vaccines. This funding will help even more community-based organizations build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine among people in their community who may not have been vaccinated yet.”

Read the Department of Health and Human Services press release here.

About Morehouse School of Medicine

Founded in 1975, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is among the nation’s leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists, and public health professionals. An independent and private historically-Black medical school, MSM was recognized by the Annals of Internal Medicine as the nation’s number one medical school in fulfilling a social mission—the creation and advancement of health equity. MSM faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research, and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care. MSM is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral and master’s degrees. To learn more about programs and donate today, please visit or call 404-752-1500.


Amanda Magdalenski
Morehouse School of Medicine