Project HEARD (Health Equity via Advocacy for Resources in Detroit)

Project HEARD (Health Equity via Advocacy for Resources in Detroit) is a Detroit URC policy initiative to support community-led efforts to advance health equity in Detroit. Funded by the Total Healthcare Foundation, the one-year project (February 2023 - January 2024) provides strategic and funding support for a cohort of 5 teams of community-academic partners who are each working towards a policy goal that they have identified, using a community-based participatory approach. Building upon longtime efforts by community organizations and their collaborators, Project HEARD aims to accelerate change by supporting targeted efforts on a specific aspect of policy change that can be moved through a yearlong effort – enhancing capacity and prospects to achieve longer term policy goals to address racial and structural inequities to advance health equity.


Approach: Equity, Co-learning, and Power-building for Impact 

Project HEARD uses an equity framework to address underlying determinants of health that contribute to systemic and structural inequities. The yearlong program uses an action co-learning approach based on the expertise, experience, needs, and potential synergies among teams. Building off the Detroit URC's longstanding policy advocacy and CBPR capacity building efforts, the program is customized to the specific goals of cohort Policy Action Teams and includes:

  • 3 Policy Advocacy Workshops – intensive 5-hour in-person facilitated workshops in Detroit with frameworks and tools for teams to apply both within and across teams; 
  • 3 Cohort Strategy Sessions – facilitated by instructors/mentors for turning existing research into policy change; 
  • $20,000 Policy Action/Implementation Grant for each team to develop and implement their proposed policy change strategy; 
  • Mentoring/Technical Assistance – from a pool of community and academic instructors/mentors with expertise and experience in policy change, organization and systems change, collaborative group processes, and CBPR;
  • Policy Change Network among policy teams to support co-learning, power, and impact. 


Policy Action Teams

Participating teams are hosted by longstanding community leadership organizations in Detroit and Southeast Michigan. Teams will address priority issues of critical concern in their communities with implications beyond Detroit, including climate change, reentry and child support, a statewide green amendment, and air quality. 


Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation (DHDC)

Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ)

Eastside Community Network (ECN)

Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition (CBC)


Project HEARD Planning & Implementation Team

The project is guided by the Detroit URC Board, and community and academic facilitators/mentors with extensive experience in policy change, collaboration, and CBPR. 

Co-Leads – Chris Coombe and Paul Fleming (UM School of Public Health, HBHE)

Community Instructors/Mentors – Angela Reyes (DHDC), Donele Wilkins (Green Door Initiative), and Sherita Smith (Cinnaire), Ricardo Guzman (CHASS emeritus), Hoi An Pham

Academic Instructors/Mentors – Barbara Israel, Amy Schulz (HBHE); Melissa Creary (HMP)

Project/Detroit URC Staff and Doctoral Student Research Assistant – Mary Beth Damm, Kori Jones, Clara Reyes


Additional Communications and Resources:

Contact: Mary Beth Damm