In 2015, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) partnered with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to award the RWJF Award for Health Equity Presented by CCPH (RWJF-CCPH Award). This award highlights the power and potential of community-campus partnerships successfully using systems and policy change needed to overcome the root causes of health, social, environmental and economic inequalities. The award recognizes two “Key Leaders” (one community member and one academic partner) who spearhead the success to the field in the area of exemplary partnerships between communities and academic institutions that are striving to achieve health equity and social justice.

This year, we are honored to present the 2018 RWJF-CCPH Award for Health Equity to Alma McCormick, MA and Suzanne Held, PhD from the Messengers for Health partnership in Montana. The Messengers for Health (MFH) partnership started in 1996 and are a partnership between members of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation and faculty and students from Montana State University-Bozeman. This project uses community-based participatory research (CBPR) and Indigenous research methodologies to improve health among Apsáalooke people. They have built working relationships across multiple and diverse public and private sectors. These are strong and healthy relationships where they act as a bridge to bring people together across multiple sectors to build a healthy community in a synergistic manner, which has never existed before in the community. The MFH partnership works in multiple topic areas including women’s and men’s health, healthcare provider cultural competency, and chronic illness self-management. They serve dozens of Indigenous students from high school to the postdoctoral level and built a family within our project to assist students in feeling connected and cared for, which leads to their success. They use the strengths of the Apsáalooke culture to build a culture of health and health equity and social justice are central to our work. Their partnership work is designed to change systems that impact health outcomes by improving access to quality care. Unlike much past research in Indigenous communities, Apsáalooke community members are in the driver’s seat of this research.

Check out our website to learn more about the RWJF-CCPH Award for Health Equity and future application cycles.