NIMH » NIH Launches Community-Led Research Program to Advance Health Equity

Community Organization Awards Will Examine Structural Drivers of Health

Press release

The National Institutes of Health is funding a community-led research program, the first of its kind, to study ways to address underlying structural factors within communities that affect health, such as access to safe spaces, healthy foods, employment opportunities, transportation, and quality healthcare. Through the NIH Common Fund Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) program, NIH awarded 26 grants to community organizations and a coordinating center, totaling approximately $171 million over five years, pending availability Of funds. Through these awards, ComPASS will enable research into sustainable solutions that advance health equity to create lasting change in communities across the country.

The NIH directly funds research projects led by community organizations. Leaders of the organizations will work collaboratively with their research partners in academic institutions and other organizations in all phases of the research process. ComPASS projects study the social determinants of health (the social, physical and economic conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, age and play) that contribute to health inequalities.

“The ComPASS research model leverages diverse perspectives and expertise to examine systemic factors that impact the health of individuals, communities, and populations,” said NIH Acting Director Lawrence Tabak, DDS, Ph.D. “We are excited to see how the results of these awards exemplify the transformative power of community-driven research.”

The projects It will examine the underlying conditions and environments that influence health outcomes by enabling the development, implementation, and evaluation of structural interventions. Structural interventions are intended to alter the social determinants of health by changing the factors that create differences in opportunities to achieve optimal health.

Each award will encourage the design of strategies to improve health outcomes through innovative structural interventions to address community concerns, such as economic development, social and community context, neighborhood characteristics, access and quality of care. medical care, and the nutritional and food environment. Community organizations and their research partners will work together to develop a structural intervention, launch it within their communities, and then evaluate whether the intervention improves health outcomes. Several examples of research projects supported by ComPASS, which focus on populations that experience health disparities include:

  • Support access to healthy foods in underserved rural communities by delivering food boxes to local stores and individuals, and facilitating the collection, processing and distribution of local foods in the community. The project will measure whether these interventions reduce hunger, improve diet quality, promote healthy weight, and protect people against chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • To evaluate whether early child care strategies improve the mental health of children and their parents and guardians. This project will develop and examine community-based strategies that increase access to public early childhood care, education, and programs to support young children and families in areas with limited access to child care.
  • Improve access to healthcare through individualized travel information and resources along with a transportation stipend for healthcare and related travel. The project will evaluate whether improved transportation access can reduce emergency department readmissions and secondary infections, decrease hospital costs, and improve disease management.
  • Improve access to quality health care for older adults from sexual and gender minority populations by creating culturally appropriate and inclusive protocols in the local health system. The project will measure how these changes in the local health system affect overall physical and mental health.
  • To evaluate whether improving telehealth models in rural communities can improve preventive screening and management of diseases such as cancer, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases among agricultural workers. The project will improve telehealth by transforming workers’ access to affordable and reliable broadband Internet.

NIH will gain valuable experience and knowledge on how to support future successful community-led health research. Each project will also contribute valuable data to a growing body of knowledge on the social determinants of health and structural inequalities.

The ComPASS program is funded by the NIH Common Fund and collaboratively managed by NIH Common Fund staff; National Cancer Institute; National Institute of Mental Health; National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities; National Nursing Research Institute; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and the NIH Office of Women’s Health Research, and many of the NIH Institutes’ centers and offices provide input and participate in program development and management. More information is available on the ComPASS program website: .

For more information about ComPASS, watch this short video :


About the NIH Common Fund: The NIH Common Fund fosters collaboration and supports a series of exceptionally impactful programs across NIH. Common Fund programs are administered by the Office of Strategic Coordination in the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Director of the NIH in partnership with NIH institutes, centers, and offices. More information is available on the Common Fund website: .

About the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): The mission of
is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illness through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit the NIMH website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency that conducts and supports basic, clinical, and medical research. translational, and is investigating the causes, treatments and cures of common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit the NIH website .

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