The action wing of the Center, where our work focuses on the development of interventions as well as the use of social entrepreneurship in the development of not-for-profit community organizations.

New Solutions to Advance Health Equity

Core Leaders: Marty Martin (DePaul) and Raj Shah (Rush)

Over the last 10 years, there has been a movement in education to focus on developing the next generation of learners to be innovators. While most of the innovation has focused on the design of novel products, there is another equally important route for innovation. Social innovation involves learning how to develop sustainable programs to improve the quality of life and well-being of individuals and communities. Social innovators are interested in making change that reduces social injustice. Social innovation has been part of the fabric of Chicago since the early 20th Century. Innovators such as Jane Adams made significant differences in the knowledge acquisition in newly established communities. Chicago also was the hub of social innovation funded through private donors.

Many persons entering careers in the health workforce are driven by a hope to make a difference in the well-being of society. How can that internal drive be accentuated in the process of educating and training the next generation of health workforce? How can they develop the skills of social innovation?

The Design Core has an overall aim of engaging faculty and students to evaluate and implement what is learned in the Discovery Core in order to identify potential intervention targets and to develop student-led social innovation programs that foster meaningful and effective service inter-professional opportunities.

Our aims include:

  • Enabling the health work force to nurture intrinsic motivation in their choice of profession through play, passion, and purpose.
  • Combining motivation with expertise and creative thinking skills to enable the rapid design and evaluation of innovative solutions to advance health equity
  • Developing a social entrepreneur culture through strong mentor-mentee relationships, inter-professional teamwork, and continuous service learning.

Through the work of the Design Core, the communities will benefit from new solutions to advance health equity, students of the health workforce have a foundation of life-long learning skills to make a difference in society, and the Center for Community Health Equity will be recognized as a novel program in the development of social innovations focused on health and well-being.

Our current projects include:

Design for America (DFA) Summer Studio

Design for America (DFA) equips college students to tackle social challenges through design innovation. The DFA Summer Studio is a six week design intensive that is held at Northwestern University to pair a group of students to work with a community lead to address a question of importance.

The Design Core for the Center for Community Health Equity provided community leadership on a topic for the first time during the summer of 2017. The topic of mental health for young adults in West Garfield Park was selected as the social issue.

How can we help young adults in West Garfield Park identify the signs of a peer living with a mental health issue? How can we help young adults in West Garfield Park start appropriate conversations about mental health?

Initially, this team looked to increase accessibility to Mental Health First Aid, an eight hour mental health responder training course similar to CPR training in style. After attending the class themselves, the team learned Mental Health First Aid may not be designed to best meet the needs of young adults. The team pivoted to encourage young adults in supporting their peers and friends with mental health risks, aiming to create more desirable interventions for those communities.

The results of the DFA Summer Studio include:

Chicago Gun Violence Research Collaborative (CGVRC) Fellowship

Chicago Gun Violence Research Collaborative (CGVRC) brings together community members and experts from across the city to explore community-based approaches to reduce community gun violence in Chicago. We do this through cataloguing and sharing existing research, partnering with communities to conduct new research on community-identified issues, and hosting forums to bring people together to address gun violence.

Details on becoming a CGVRC research fellow.

Rush-DePaul Design Studio with DFA

Through the Center for Community Health Equity and the Design Core, Rush-DePaul will test hosting a student-run design studio for the 2017-2018 year. We will be following the DFA Launch Guide to build a group of 20+ students from both campuses interested in learning how to apply design principles to develop solutions for a social problem in the Chicago area.

Support of Student-Based Solutions at Local High Schools

In early 2017, the Center for Community Health Equity worked with a health teacher at Walter Payton College Prep to support high school students thinking about solutions to address health equity issues in the City. Student presentations can be found here. Future activities are being planned – contact us if you would like to be involved.

Solutions to Advance Health Equity Coming in 2019

Social Entrepreneurship to Accelerate Health Equity

Rush and DePaul students will be given the opportunity to participate in a study to assess Entrepreneurship Intentions and Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy to harness the collective intent to either bolster existing student-led organizations, scale existing programs or launch new ventures aimed at accelerating health equity.