In September 2015, the FACES for the Future Coalition at the Public Health Institute was awarded a multi-year, 2.5 million dollar grant through the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to nationally replicate its programs transitioning high school students from underserved communities into health fields. This significant award allows FACES for the Future to expand its work in California and to create new programs across the country that support disadvantaged minority youth in moving into health careers, beginning in Detroit and in New Mexico.
For the past 18 years, FACES for the Future has operated programs in California, providing comprehensive “wrap-around” services including health careers training, academic enrichment, psychosocial support and intervention, and youth leadership development. FACES for the Future’s guiding principle is that disadvantaged students seeking careers in health need to be exposed to options earlier, given training geared to meet rigorous competencies so they will be competitive in the workforce, and supported with all-inclusive services to be successful.
“FACES not only made me be want to be a doctor,” said Chris Travis (pictured), a 2007 graduate of FACES Oakland and a first year medical student at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, “it introduced me to people who would help me one day make that dream a reality.”
Evaluations show that a full 100% of FACES students graduate high school, compared with only 40% of their peers in some communities. Nine out of 10 are accepted into post-secondary college or training, and a large number plan to go on to pursue healthcare and health-related professions.
“FACES for the Future provides as much value to a healthcare system that needs racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse providers to care for patients, as it does to the students it mentors to become health professionals,” said PHI President and CEO Mary A. Pittman, DrPH. “It’s a proven model that can work for communities all over the nation, and we will see both our young people and our healthcare system benefit from this expansion.”
This federal funding has enabled FACES to scale its program replication strategy to a national level beginning in Detroit, Michigan, and in New Mexico, locations which both have concentrated populations of youth of color, low socioeconomic status, and high dropout rates.
“That pretty much describes where I grew up, and where we work now,” says FACES Director Dr. Tomás Magaña. “The accomplishments of our alumni show that investments in youth are well worth the effort. If we can boost participants’ high school graduation rates in Oakland, we can do that in Detroit. If low-income kids of color in California can become doctors, social workers, and physician’s assistants, they can in New Mexico, too.”
In Detroit, the FACES program will soon join after-school programming at the Downtown Boxing Gym, which is supported in part through funding from Detroit natives Eminem and Madonna. The grant also supports the development of a mentorship program between existing affiliate programs and new ones, an expansion within California’s Alameda County, and an increase in outreach efforts to keep connected with program alumni entering the healthcare workforce.
FACES for the Future has been highlighted by a California Healthcare Association report as a “best practice program for building internships for youth interested in health careers,” and it has been showcased in People magazine and by NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman.
The FACES Coalition has been awarded a grant through the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health to further develop FACES programs in communities of need. Entitled the National Workforce Diversity Pipeline Program, the intention of the grant is to continue efforts to create a skilled, diversified health workforce to positively impact health disparities facing communities of color.
Reproduced in part from the Public Health Institute website.