Project HEARD Empowers Community Organizations for Effective Policy Change

Detroit skyline

The project utilizes community-academic partnerships to work toward defined policy goals set forth using a community-based participatory approach.

A Detroit URC policy initiative led by University of Michigan School of Public Health researchers and community leaders is working to support and expand community-led efforts to advance health equity in Detroit and statewide. Project HEARD (Health Equity via Advocacy for Resources in Detroit) is funded through a grant from Priority Health’s Total Healthcare Foundation in support of five teams of community-academic partners who are each working toward a policy goal to address racial and structural inequities. Both the Detroit URC and Michigan Public Health have built a longstanding network of initiatives to advance health equity through a community-based participatory research framework. 

Michigan Public Health researchers Chris Coombe, an associate research scientist in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, and Paul Fleming, associate professor of Health Behavior and Health Education, are co-leaders of the project.

Project HEARD will support each of the 5 teams in pursuit of their specified policy goals through policy advocacy workshops, strategy sessions, a policy action and implementation grant, and a network of academic and community mentors.

“The teams are working on local or statewide policy change in the realm of criminal justice, climate change, or air quality,” Fleming said. “They are currently finalizing their plans for the policy change campaign and will be taking action this fall and winter to work towards that goal.”

Policy Action Teams

Project HEARD engages teams from highly regarded Detroit organizations poised to make change:

Michigan Public Health faculty Barbara Israel, Amy Schulz, William Lopez, Ebbin Dotson, and Melissa Creary are also involved in the project.

For more information on Project HEARD, contact Mary Beth Damm at