Mayor Walsh and 1199SEIU Announce $600,000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Grant for COVID-19 Education Outreach to High Risk Residents


119SEIU’s Center for Healthcare Workforce Development partnered with City of Syracuse in attracting first-ever CDC grant to Syracuse

Syracuse, N.Y. – Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced the City of Syracuse will receive a nearly $600,000 federal grant to fund person-to-person outreach regarding COVID-19 vaccination and prevention to people at higher risk for the virus. The City partnered with the Center for Healthcare Workforce Development, the non-profit arm of the 1199SEIU Training and Employment Funds (TEF) and the Healthcare Education Project (HEP), in achieving the grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the grant funding, the City of Syracuse and the Central New York Regional Healthcare Equity Task Force will work with 1199SEIU’s TEF and HEP to create and implement “CARES for COVID-19 Response.” The CARES program will train and deploy Community Health Workers (CHWs) to engage with hard-to-reach residents, as well as people impacted by
pre-existing racial and health disparities and unmet social needs that put them at higher risk for COVID-19. CHWs, to be recruited and hired from city neighborhoods, will fill the gap in public information and outreach in areas with lower vaccination rates.

“Increasing the vaccination rate and informing people about COVID-19 safety are the best ways we can bring an end to the pandemic. We need to meet people where they are and help them overcome the individual barriers to COVID-19 vaccination and prevention that they face,” said Mayor Walsh. “I thank 1199SEIU for bringing this grant opportunity to
the attention of city government and working with our City of Syracuse Research Bureau to achieve this award. This is the kind of public-private partnership that makes our community healthier and stronger.”

The CARES program target population includes: 1) racial and ethnically diverse residents including Blacks, Hispanics, and East Asians; 2) people living with mental, physical, and developmental disabilities; 3) residents with chronic and acute health conditions; 4) residents living in poverty; and 5) aging residents. CHWs will be deployed to key neighborhood locations on a regular basis for outreach to residents. They will work with a toolkit of print and digital materials to support outreach, provide information, answer questions and connect residents with COVID-19 vaccinations.

“As a product of the City of Syracuse and a graduate of the Syracuse City School District, a district that contributed to my vocation in health care and community outreach at the age of 14, I am truly blessed to work for an organization like the Healthcare Education Project, a product of 1199SEIU and GNYHA. HEP along with the 1199 TEF, our collaborator on
this project, and other community partners, understand the importance of public health and health education in our communities,” said Latoya Jones, Syracuse and CNY Regional Healthcare Organizer, Healthcare Education Project 1199SEIU/GNYHA “We also understand that this is a critical time for public health in the City of Syracuse and in the country at large. Now more than ever, it is important to keep our families and communities informed by meeting people where they are, on the ground and at the doors in the communities where they reside. An informed community is a community that thrives in wellness.”

“It’s a pleasure to join the City of Syracuse to announce CARES Act funding will be used for an initiative that will protect vulnerable members of our community from COVID-19 and help individuals get vaccinated,” said U.S. Rep. John Katko. “The CARES Act, a bipartisan relief bill I supported in the House, has delivered critical federal support for Central New
York and aided our pandemic response efforts. I’m glad this funding is continuing to make an impact.”

New York State launched the Central New York Regional Healthcare Equity Task Force in December 2020. It mobilizes community partners and leverages COVID-19 resources to meet four objectives: 1) identify barriers to vaccinations in hard-to-reach populations; 2) create pathways to vaccinate hard-to-reach populations; 3) recommend how to reach
people in hard-to-reach populations; and 4) identify preferred communications channels to hard-to-reach populations.

COVID-19 vaccination information available is at https://covid19.ongov.net/ or by phone at the COVID-19 line 1-888-364-1065.