$1.2 Million Awarded to Nursing-Driven Innovations Improving Care for Youth

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New York, NY (October 17, 2023) The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation today announced two new grants from the Hillman Innovations in Care (HIC) program. Representing the leading edge of nursing innovation, the grantees will leverage strong local partnerships, technology, and family engagement to expand access to critically needed health resources for marginalized children and adolescents.

The awards, totalling $1.2 million, are to nurse researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University. 

The HIC program, one of the Foundation’s defining initiatives, was created to accelerate the spread of evidence-based interventions that address the health and social needs of communities that experience discrimination, oppression and indifference. These populations include Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), the economically disadvantaged, LGBTQ+ people, people experiencing homelessness, rural populations, refugees, and others. 

“We believe that nursing innovation is a powerful force for change,” said Ahrin Mishan, Executive Director of The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation. “This year’s grantees, working at the nexus of a dysfunctional health care system and the complex needs of the communities they serve, are uniquely positioned to remove barriers to more equitable, trustworthy, and person-centered care.” 

These are the grantees and their projects:

Supporting the Well-Being of LGBTQ+ Adolescents and Their Families

At a time when LGBTQ+ youth are challenged by both disproportionately high rates of negative mental health outcomes and an increasingly hostile legislative environment that threatens their access to health services, it is imperative that families are provided with skill sets enabling them to effectively communicate support to their LGBTQ+ children. Many families are unable to benefit from vetted educational resources due to lack of availability, understanding, cultural taboos, and limited, if any, contact with a trusted healthcare provider. HIC funding will expand Parents ASSIST (Advancing Supportive and Sexuality Inclusive Sex Talks), a nurse-driven, community- informed, digitally accessible intervention that offers parents the practical knowledge they need to fully support LGBTQ+ children as they navigate adolescence and a turbulent world. By breaking down longstanding silos within LGBTQ+ science (e.g., separate programming for sexual minority vs. gender diverse youth) and recognizing the power that parents have to improve  the lives of their LGBTQ+ children, this consolidated intervention is poised to make a significant impact on the health and well-being of all families with LGBTQ+ youth.

Principal Investigator: Dalmacio Dennis Flores, PhD, ACRN, FAAN, University of Pennsylvania

A Model for Supporting Preschool Children's Mental Health in Head Start

Families from low-income and under-served communities face myriad challenges accessing resources that can enhance parenting skills and support the mental health of their young children. Fewer than 15 percent of children from low-income families who are in need of mental health services receive the behavioral health care they require. With HIC funding, the Chicago Parent Program for individual families (CPPi) seeks to address these inequities by making parenting and mental health resources more readily available. An adaptation of the group-based Chicago Parent Program (CPP) – the first evidence-based parenting program developed with and for a racially and economically diverse community of parents – CPPi will be implemented by nurses via telehealth, dramatically eliminating a multitude of barriers that many families face in accessing in-person child mental health services. A community-based partnership with trusted local Head Start sites will help CPPi engage families in need and lay the groundwork for a potential national scaling effort.

Principal Investigator: Deborah Gross, DNSC, MS, BSN, RN, FAAN, Johns Hopkins University

About The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation

The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation advances bold, nursing-driven innovations that promote equitable, person-centered, and trustworthy care. It is committed to improving the health and healthcare of all people, especially populations who experience inequity, discrimination, oppression, and indifference. Its goal is to help ignite and develop game-changing interventions and to cultivate a vibrant ecosystem of nurse innovators, grantees, and partners dedicated to building a healthier, more equitable future for all. For more information, please visit

Media Contact
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