Oct 06, 2020

Campaign Names 2020 Nursing Innovations Fund Award Winners

Map highlighting 2020 Nursing Innovations Fund awardee states: Arkansas and Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennslyvania, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming

The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an initiative of AARP Foundation, AARP, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), is pleased to announce that 10 projects proposed by its state-based Action Coalitions, or in a few cases, organizations designated by an Action Coalition, have been selected to receive awards up to $25,000 each for new or ongoing work that strengthens nursing’s role in building a Culture of Health and promoting health equity. All 2020  Nursing Innovations Fund secured dollar to dollar matching funds from a variety of partners, including local county fire and emergency services, a state beef council, United Way, local foundations, health and hospital systems, universities and individual donors, to name a few.

The winning projects from nearly every region of the country range from developing nurse leaders to serve on local boards to a mentoring program for Black men that promotes educational attainment and employment opportunities in nursing. All are designed to address policies that impact the many different social, economic and environmental factors that shape our health, and that will lead to greater health equity for all.

RWJF defines health equity as, “everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments and health care.”

“As a co-chair of the Campaign’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee (EDISC),

I am proud that these 2020 Nursing Innovation Fund projects are committed to advancing health equity, particularly at a moment when our nation is finally paying increased attention to addressing systemic racism,” said Carmen Alvarez, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, assistant professor, Department of Community-Public Health, Johns Hopkins University.

“A pathway to equity is to help build better health through nursing,” said Eric J. Williams, DNP,  RN, FAAN, assistant director and faculty chair and professor of nursing at Santa Monica College, and fellow co-chair of the EDISC. “These efforts are a step in that direction and I applaud the Action Coalitions for their work.”

The Campaign’s Nursing Innovations Fund was created in 2018 to support work of its Action Coalitions and allies that inform and influence policy, produce replicable strategies that place nurses in positions as essential partners in providing care, and strategically involve a diversity of stakeholders. This competition was limited to the Action Coalitions or organizations designated by Action Coalitions and required applicants to raise funds to match the award dollars. To date, 23 Action Coalitions and allies have received Nursing Innovation Fund awards to build healthier communities through nursing.

“As our nation continues to face the devastation wrought by COVID-19, nurses remain on the frontlines as trusted providers of care. Now, more than ever, our country is relying on nurses to apply their unique knowledge and understanding of community needs for better health. These states demonstrate how nurses use that critical perspective to implement innovative programs to improve health and well-being,” said Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior adviser for nursing at RWJF and director of the Campaign for Action and Susan C. Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior vice president and director of the AARP Public Policy Institute, and chief strategist at the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP Foundation, AARP, and RWJF, which coordinates the Campaign for Action.

The winners and an overview of their proposals are listed below:

Arkansas and Tennessee

The Arkansas Center for Nursing and the Tennessee Action Coalition aims to develop nurse leadership and places nurses on local housing and planning boards throughout the Arkansas Tennessee Delta region, to help create healthier communities through the project, “Nurses Building a Culture of Health in the Arkansas-Tennessee Delta”. This geographic area has a history of inequities, poverty and poor health outcomes. Matching funds were provided by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Housing Development Agency.


The Georgia Nursing Leadership Coalition plans to implement a mentoring program for Black men that promotes educational attainment and employment opportunities in nursing through the “High School to Higher Education: Increasing Black Male Representation in Nursing” project. The efforts will engage community partners as stakeholders and employ a holistic approach to providing professional and personal development opportunities to assist mentors and mentees build the skills needed for educational attainment and employment success.


The Kentucky Nurses Action Coalition’s project, “Kentucky Partners to the BARN (Bringing Awareness Right Now) Program for a Farmer Dinner Theater Addressing Mental Health & Wellness” is a three-part intervention program designed to help address farmer mental health issues and prevent suicide. Fifty high school students with an agricultural career interest will receive tailored training sessions to raise self-awareness about mental health and wellness, learn suicide prevention skills and theater skills to produce a dinner theater addressing mental health and wellness for approximately 100 Kentucky farmers and their families.


The Nebraska Action Coalition’s project, “Striving for Health Equity in Nebraska,” works to address social determinants through a multipronged approach.

  1. Build professional students’ knowledge of population health by having them design and disseminate health information at school health fairs.
  2. Develop community-based partnerships via an advanced practice registered nurse led clinic which provides integrated behavioral health care for rural and underserved populations.
  3. Promote awareness and build partnerships through an annual Leadership/Culture of Health conference. The conference will address topics such as advocacy, policy, mental health/self-care, implicit bias, and it will also include a “COVID-19 Lessons Learned” panel.

North Carolina

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s project, “On the Ground: Access to Care through Building Faith, Health, and Community Partnerships,” supported by the North Carolina Action Coalition, seeks to develop a faith, health, and community engagement model utilizing the Campaign’s Health Equity Toolkit. The program aims to enhance the health equity advocacy and partnership/coalition building skills of nurses, nursing students, pastors and church members to promote the health and well-being of communities through congregations. It will also create a regional steering committee to engage stakeholders to prioritize and address social determinants of health that adversely affect the health and well-being of African American and rural communities, and promote health-related congregational activities focused on the needs of the community.


Through its “At the Core of Care” podcast, the Pennsylvania Action Coalition will showcase stories of nurses and their partners driving change by addressing social determinants of health. The series will be incorporated into nursing school classrooms to inspire public health leadership and advocacy.


The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns launched the “Bayanihan Response to COVID-19″ to respond to the immediate and long-term health and wellness needs of Filipino communities in the United States and the Philippines. Via a telephone weekly check in and screening with elders identified as high need, callers assess for COVID-19 symptoms, food, prescription, utilities, housing needs and pre-paid phone minutes. They also offer a grocery and meal delivery program to ensure clients have access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food.  Lastly, they will conduct a community wellness survey. Focus group results will be disseminated to community members, stakeholders, and the public. In collaboration with Seattle University College of Nursing, and support of the Washington Action Coalition, they will use survey data to create interventions and initiatives to address community needs.

West Virginia

The West Virginia Action Coalition project, “RN Entrepreneur Project Continuation,” will create five sustainable nurse businesses and teach the entrepreneur course to 20 additional nurses. The training curriculum and program will expand across the state.


The Wisconsin Action Coalition’s project, “Preparing Wisconsin Nurses to Address the Needs of Vulnerable Populations in a Public Health Emergency”, will design and develop trainings for Wisconsin nurses in response to the specific educational needs created by COVID-19. Trainings will address disparities impacting Wisconsin’s most vulnerable populations. Components include: launching educational programs for Milwaukee nurses who care for diverse and vulnerable populations, evaluating and improving learning content and methodologies and expanding the program statewide.


The aim of the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities, University of Wyoming, in support with the Wyoming Action Coalition project, “Facilitating Seniors’ Use of Technology to Decrease Social Isolation,” is for nursing students to help older adults use technology in their homes to access health care, purchase groceries and household goods, and communicate with their friends and family.