Best Practices Research on Health Equity Initiatives in Worcester

By Amelia Murray-Cooper

Lecturer Kaytlin Eldred collaborated with the MetroBridge Program in her spring 2022 course Cultural Humility, Racial Justice, and Health in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SAR HS 349). Undergraduate students supported the Coalition for a Healthy Greater Worcester by performing research and providing recommendations for how to improve the Community Health Improvement Plan, or CHIP, a regional strategic plan for addressing health disparities and improving community health.

students walking in Worcester
Students visiting Worcester as part of SAR HS 349 in spring 2022.

Each student team focused on one of four chosen strategies from the CHIP’s Action Agenda–mobilizing community health services; implementing trainings on anti-racism, LGBTQIA+ acceptance, cultural humility, and empathetic communication; broadening and scaling resource navigation systems; and developing recruitment, retainment and advancement strategies to diversify the workforce. Student research aimed to identify communities that have implemented similar plans and analyze those peer initiatives for success, potential improvements, and cost. Students completed the semester by creating a summary report and presenting their findings to Coalition staff.

When we asked Kaytlin about her experience collaborating with the MetroBridge Program and leading her students in this project, she said, “Including MetroBridge into my course curriculum allows me to re-invent the way that I teach. I have the ability to move away from teaching ABOUT problems and shift to SOLVING problems … Every semester I partner with MetroBridge, students tell me it’s the most impactful experience they have during their time in undergrad.”

students hearing from a speaker
Germán Chiriboga, MPH, Program Director at the Population and Quantitative Health Sciences at UMass Chan Medical School, speaking to students during their field trip.

The MetroBridge Program is the Initiative on Cities’ experiential learning program, which helps connect BU students and faculty to local governments in a series of real-world projects. These projects provide students the unique opportunity to work on impactful projects with neighboring cities, while also offering partner organizations valuable insights for addressing urban challenges.

Temperance Staples, the Coalition’s Community Health Improvement Plan Coordinator, shared her experience working with the MetroBridge Program and Kaytlin Eldred’s class: “I adored working with the MetroBridge students led by Kaytlin Eldred! It was a pleasure to not only teach them about the health equity work we’re doing in Worcester, but to learn from the students themselves through their brilliant questions, discussion, and insights. The students were dedicated to the mission of the Coalition for a Healthy Greater Worcester, and it was reflected in the excellence of their report which we will absolutely be using to move our community health improvement plan forward.”


Learn more about other spring 2022 MetroBridge projects here, and find the fall 2022 course list here! To stay up-to-date, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter.