By Allyson S. Belton, MPH and Kisha B. Holden, PhD, MSCR
Investment, whether through mentorship or resource support, is critical to the development of future leaders. Student success and achievement is what drives the existing relationship between Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) and Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy (TAG Academy). MSM first began its relationship with TAG Academy in 2015 when it was E.L. Connally Elementary School. One year, a school merger, and over 700 students later, MSM continues this relationship through the MSM-Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy CONNECT Mentoring Program and the Building a Culture of Health through Leadership, Discovery, and Equity Project, also known as Project LEAD (Leadership, Equity, and Discovery).
The MSM-Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy CONNECT Mentoring Program is a partnership with Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and Atlanta CARES, an affiliate of the National CARES Mentoring Movement founded by former Essence Magazine editor-in-chief Susan Taylor, that services over 130 students by providing mentors from MSM to students in grades 3-5. Project LEAD is funded through a partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and explores approaches toward the achievement of health equity through the adaptation of three successful signature Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) leadership programs – Community Health Leadership Program (CHLP), Smart & Secure Children Quality Parent Leadership Program (SSC), and Mayors for a Healthy Future Leadership Program (MFHF). Collectively, these programs support the initiatives that comprise the MSM-TAG Academy partnership. These initiatives include: student mentoring and tutoring; a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) educational program; a parent leadership program; an educator health leadership program; and an adaptation of the Safe Routes to School Program supporting student safety to and from school.
As a result of this successful partnership, MSM has been recognized as the APS 2016 Washington Cluster School-Based Partner of the Year and APS 2016-2017 School-Based Partner of the Year.
TAG Academy Principal, Mr. Lincoln Woods, nominated MSM for this honor, which annually recognizes nine cluster awardees of which only one awardee is named School-Based Partner of the Year. On October 26, 2016, at the APS Annual APyeS! Employee Recognition Celebration, representatives from MSM’s Office of the President and Dean, Office of the Executive Vice Dean, Office of Educational Outreach and Health Careers, and Satcher Health Leadership Institute received the award from Dr. Meria Carstarphen, APS Superintendent.
MSM and SHLI remain committed to the vision of leading in the creation and advancement of health equity. One key element of this commitment is community-based partnerships. We believe that community involvement is essential toward enhancing community capacity for influencing environmental systems and community-level changes relative to achieving a national culture of health. Why not begin with our future leaders and learners?
Allyson S. Belton is an Associate Project Director for the Satcher Health Leadership Institute Administrative Core and Center of Excellence for Sexual Health. She is the Associate Project Director for Project LEAD. Dr. Kisha B. Holden is the Interim Director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute and Principal Investigator for Project LEAD.