Pew Awards $4 Million to Esperanza Health Center to Expand Affordable, Comprehensive Care in Underserved Neighborhoods

Funds will support the growth of and improved access to Esperanza’s primary and prenatal care, substance use treatment, dental services, and prevention and wellness programs in Kensington

Community fitness event
Community members participate in an exercise class at Esperanza Health Center during "Fall Into Fitness" -- an event hosted by Espernaza's Community Health and Wellness team to promote family fitness and nutrition.
Courtesy of The Esperanza Health Center

PHILADELPHIA—The Pew Charitable Trusts announced today that it has awarded $4 million to Esperanza Health Center (EHC) to expand its medical, behavioral health, and wellness programs in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood and surrounding underserved communities. The funding will also help the organization engage more local residents to understand how to better meet their wellness, clinical, and social services needs, with a focus on improving access and inclusivity.

The award, which is a Pew Fund for Health and Human Services (Pew Fund) growth grant, aims to help Philadelphia-area nonprofit providers significantly expand their ability to offer high-quality, research-informed services for people facing challenges rooted in poverty. EHC’s grant is the largest sum an organization can receive through the Pew Fund, and will be paid over five years.

With Pew’s support, EHC will expand its primary care and substance use treatment programs to serve 2,000 additional patients annually by adding two more medical teams and one additional dental team in its Kensington location. The organization will also add staff to its behavioral and community health teams to provide more support, including group therapy and peer counseling.

In addition to growing its clinical services, EHC will seek to improve health outcomes through a new community wellness center, The CORE, located adjacent to its Kensington medical care facility. The new building, which is designed to focus on overall wellness, will include a fitness center, gymnasium, and conference and event space, as well as areas for programs such as nutrition and health education classes, distribution of fresh produce, legal services, and assistance accessing public benefits. EHC estimates that 12,000 patients and community members will use the center’s wellness programs during its first five years in operation.

Kristin Romens, the Pew Fund’s project director, said of the grant, “Pew is very pleased to support Esperanza Health Center’s commitment to providing care that integrates the highest-quality clinical services with behavioral health and social supports in underserved Philadelphia communities. With the expansion of its programs and outreach, we believe EHC will help even more individuals and families in Kensington and surrounding neighborhoods achieve overall wellness and better health outcomes.”

A key component of EHC’s growth grant will be engaging with residents in Kensington and surrounding communities to better understand their wants and needs, which will help inform future programming and services. To do this, EHC plans to develop new outreach strategies and hire additional staff who reflect and understand the range of racial and ethnic groups that the organization serves.

Susan Post, Esperanza Health Center’s CEO, said, “Since our founding in 1989, we have been following a vision for whole-person health care in North Philadelphia. We continue to learn the importance of community engagement to improve health and wellness and reduce health disparities. It is an extraordinary honor to have Pew’s support to help us propel this vision forward. In partnership with our Kensington neighbors, we look forward to having an even greater impact on generations to come.”

For more information on Esperanza Health Center, visit esperanzahealth.com. And to learn more about The Pew Charitable Trusts’ support for Philadelphia-area health and human services organizations and the people and communities they serve, visit www.pewtrusts.org/en/projects/supporting-the-greater-philadelphia-area/health-and-human-services.

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