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Loyola University Chicago Receives $1.09M Grant to Support COVID-19 Community Outreach, Research

MAYWOOD, IL, October 15, 2020 – Loyola University Chicago is proud to be one of eight grantees of the Chicago Coronavirus Assessment Network (Chicago CAN) initiative, supported by the Walder Foundation, a Skokie, Illinois-based private family foundation focused in part on funding work in science innovation.

Chicago CAN provides an opportunity for a unique collaboration with state, local and county health officials, and the scientific community. In all, the foundation has awarded $7.4 million to support projects that aim to generate COVID-19 data and insights that will help better understand the transmission of the virus and inform public health policy.

With $1.09 million in funding, Loyola will join this effort by enhancing its COVID Equity Response Collaborative: Loyola (CERCL) to include community outreach in Bellwood, Berwyn, Cicero, Maywood, and Melrose Park.  A multi-disciplinary collaborative network of academic, community, public, government, and institutional partners works to minimize harm from COVID-19 to at-risk populations in Chicago’s western suburbs.  Among the Loyola faculty and students participating are those from the Schools of Health Sciences and Public Health, Medicine, Nursing, Law, and Social Work.

Recognizing that the pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color, CERCL brings increased COVID-19 testing to underserved African American and Hispanic/Latinx communities in suburban Cook County and provides social supports to people directly impacted by the pandemic. And by also applying social network analysis and antibody surveillance testing, researchers can better understand what factors promote or hinder the spread of COVID-19.

“We are delighted to be a beneficiary of the Walder Foundation’s generosity and commitment to the health of Chicago area residents,” said Elaine Morrato, DrPH, MPH, CPH, founding dean of Loyola’s Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health. “At Parkinson, we are called to be public health entrepreneurs and this funding will help us scale and sustain our COVID-19 outreach to improve health equity and community health.”

In August, with seed funding from the Parkinson School and Loyola’s Health EQ Collaborative, CERCL worked with local organizations and churches to set up COVID-19 testing sites in Melrose Park and Maywood.

“With the Walder Foundation’s support, CERCL will expand testing sites, refer individuals to treatment, identify transmission routes, and conduct a variety of surveillance tests,” said Abigail Silva, PhD, Parkinson epidemiologist, lead investigator, and former Sinai Urban Health Institute Fellow.

View more information about Chicago CAN and other grant recipients.