Atlanta nonprofit to share $20 million Gilead health equity grant

The funds are targeted at educating young people in minority communities.

The Gilead Foundation has chosen an Atlanta nonprofit to share in a $20 million effort to improve health equity through education in underserved communities. The grant is aimed at funding organizations in hopes of building a pipeline of Black health leaders.

Morehouse College’s Center for Excellence in Education is one of 13 organizations awarded the grant -- The Creating Possible Fund -- because of their focus on health equity, racial equity and social justice.

“We really wanted to have organizations in a fund that helped to address many of the inequities that we see our communities experiencing,” said Rashad Burgess, vice president of Advancing Health and Black Equity at Gilead.

The Gilead Foundation is a nonprofit funded by Gilead Sciences, a research-based biopharmaceutical company based in Foster City, Calif., that researches and develops antiviral medications used to treat HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and other viral illnesses.

According to Gilead, the quality of education that a person receives is connected to their level of health. In past decades, the health of individuals with low and high education has grown further apart, Gilead said. Those involved see education as a pathway to achieving health equity.

“We know that inequities in health stem from larger structural inequities that are deeply embedded in our society, laws, economy and particularly our educational systems,” said Korab Zuka, president of the Gilead Foundation and vice president of public affairs at Gilead. “With assistance from leaders in education and health, we believe we’ve chosen a group of innovators in health equity who will make a meaningful impact on society.”

Tiffany West, director of Advancing Health and Black Equity for Gilead, said the grant will also emphasize building social connections for young people and improving their learning environments.

“Research shows that health inequities mirror educational inequities. We’re proud to invest in programs like Morehouse’s “My Brother’s Teacher”, which increases representation of Black male teachers in the classroom,” West explained. " We know that’s extremely important for both mentorship as well as education in the STEM fields.” STEM fields are science, technology, engineering and math.

Gilead said The Creating Possible Fund is one of the ways that The Gilead Foundation is working to gain health equity for all.

“We are hoping that this is an effort that brings all of us together, resulting in young people feeling valued for their promise and potential,” Burgess said.

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