Community Coalition led by East Boston Neighborhood Health Center Awarded $100,000 Grant from Boston Children’s Hospital

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Funding to Support EASTIE Coalition’s Latinx Youth in Substance Use Prevention and Community Change Efforts

BOSTON, MA (May 29, 2024) – The EASTIE (East Boston Alliance for Support, Treatment, Intervention and Education) Coalition, led by the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, will receive a $100,000 grant from Boston Children’s. This funding is through the Boston Children’s Collaboration for Community Health and is a Youth Leaders for Mental and Behavioral Health grant. The two-year grant, spanning from May 2024 to April 2026, will support EASTIE’s exceptional youth-led projects aimed at positively impacting youth mental and physical health in the East Boston community. 

East Boston Neighborhood Health Center
EastBoston.com photograph by Frank Conte

Founded in 2016 to address an increase in substance use among local youth, the EASTIE Coalition is a multi-sector coalition that represents social services, faith-based, health care organizations, schools, recovery services and businesses to mobilize youth, families, community members and leaders to prevent and reduce substance misuse among youth and adults in the East Boston community. 

“We are immensely grateful to Boston Children’s Hospital for recognizing the potential of our program to transform youth mental health and prevent substance use in our communities,” said Mimi Gardner, Vice President and Chief Equity Officer of EBNHC. “This generous grant will strengthen our efforts to close health equity gaps by championing non-traditional, peer-based approaches to community wellness for our Latinx youth.”

The awarded project is a two-part initiative designed to train and engage newcomer Latinx youth in substance use prevention and community change efforts including:

The creation of a Latinx/Spanish language version of a peer-led substance abuse prevention curriculum

Leadership development and the integration of Spanish-speaking youth into EBNHC’s youth-led efforts to transform Central Square Park into a family-friendly space.

The project aligns with EBNHC’s approach to prevention, providing participating youth with opportunities to develop trusting relationships, learn emotional regulation and stress management skills, foster a sense of belonging and agency through civic engagement and contribute to creating a safe and equitable public space for themselves and the East Boston community.

“Both clinical and non-clinical services are required to address the current youth mental health crisis,” says Shari Nethersole, MD, Vice President for Community Health and Engagement at Boston Children’s. “Boston Children’s recognizes the importance of partnering with community organizations to support young people in holistic ways. Projects funded under the Collaboration for Community Heath will allow youth to process difficult issues and act as agents of change.”

In its first year, the program will aim to recruit and train at least 10 Spanish-speaking newcomer youth as peer leaders in the Promoting Peer Leadership and Education Program, uplift the youth-led creation of a Latinx/Spanish version of the 9-session prevention curriculum, and share the curriculum with the Boston Public Health Commission’s Office of Recovery Services, Youth Prevention to promote access for Spanish-speaking Latinx youth citywide.

In the program’s second year, an expanded, bilingual EBNHC Youth SparkShare project team will promote a safe and welcoming East Boston Central Square Park by organizing bilingual cultural and social events/workshops led by local Latinx artists and community members, engaging with community members struggling with substance use, and advocating for and collaborating with the City of Boston to improve safety through increased lighting and enhance and beautify the space.

Led by EASTIE Coalition Director Nancy Slamet, the new initiative supports EBNHC’s dedication to innovative, community-based solutions to complex health challenges by empowering Latinx youth to shape their community spaces.

 About East Boston Neighborhood Health Center

East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, rebranding as NeighborHealth June 2024, is one of the nation’s largest Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and the largest community-based primary care health system in Massachusetts, serving over 120,000 people and recognized by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) as a National Quality Leader. For more than 50 years, EBNHC has offered access to comprehensive primary care, specialty care and emergency care for patients in the Commonwealth. In a first-of-its-kind merger in 2020, EBNHC joined forces with the South End Community Health Center and expanded services to patients who live and work in Boston’s South End and Roxbury neighborhoods.

EBNHC champions innovative care models to actively bridge health equity gaps in our low-income and immigrant communities with services unique from other health care providers in our state. In addition to primary and specialty care, EBNHC operates Massachusetts’ only satellite Emergency Department, which is the fourth busiest ED in Boston and is co-located with advanced radiology, including CT scan services, same-day Behavioral Health Urgent Care and an integrated pharmacy. Today, EBNHC remains dedicated to promoting and sustaining healthy communities, families, and individuals both in and out of the exam room by providing accessible, person-centered, compassionate, and high-quality health care services. For more information, visit www.ebnhc.org