SIREN Engagement Grant

SIREN Engagement Grantees

We are proud to announce that four proposals have been selected to receive SIREN Engagement Grants! Grantees for this opportunity, which is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, were selected by the Engagement Grant Advisory Committee and representatives of the SIREN team from a pool of 54 applications after months of review and deliberation. Awardees are embarking on two-year projects to strengthen lived experience and community engagement in social care research with diverse populations and settings across the United States.


Meet Our Grantees


Strengthening Community Engagement with Asylum Seekers in Boston


Strengthening Community Engagement with Asylum Seekers in Boston

This project brings together the Boston Immigrant Justice Accompaniment Network, Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program, and the Massachusetts General Hospital Asylum Clinic to elevate the voice and platform of diverse community organizations and people with lived experience including asylum applicants. The organizations share a mission to provide high-quality medical, social, and medical-legal services to immigrants and forcibly displaced people. In this project, the partners will expand the Community Advisory Board of the MGH Asylum Clinic, hold consultative sessions with community members on social needs screening and resource navigation, and host a community storytelling event. Partners will also attend the North American Refugee Health Conference as a community–academic delegation with social needs researchers, community organizations, and community members.

Matthew Gartland (Director, MGH Asylum Clinic); Yesenia Mejia (Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Immigrant Health Team); Altaf Saadi (Associate Director, MGH Asylum Clinic); Maggie Sullivan (Director, Oasis Clinic, Boston Healthcare for the Homeless); Elizabeth Nguyen (Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network)


Co-Creating a Social Care Research Agenda for Action on Homelessness


Co-Creating a Social Care Research Agenda for Action on Homelessness

The overall objective of this project is to identify social-care related priorities of people experiencing homelessness and homeless services providers and co-develop a comprehensive research agenda in order to improve community capacity for social care research and practice in Austin, Texas. Addressing the needs of people experiencing homelessness is complex and requires multidisciplinary collaboration to develop comprehensive, whole-person solutions. While social care research has identified solutions that may improve health and meet social needs of people experiencing homelessness, few of these solutions have been co-developed, co-designed, and conducted with the perspectives and knowledge of both people with lived experience of homelessness as well as community stakeholders. Without including these important voices in social care research, researchers risk generating evidence that is not a priority for their local communities and potentially furthering racial inequities that are common among homeless populations. The rationale for this project is that building relationships and increasing engagement capacity with communities before conducting research is critical for meaningful community-engaged research that advances health equity.

Elizabeth “Beth” Heitkemper (Assistant Professor, University of Texas (UT) at Austin School of Nursing); Andrea “Dre” Kaltz (Consultant, City of Austin Innovation Office and Homeless Strategy Division); Whitney Thurman (Assistant Professor, UT at Austin School of Nursing); Ebonie Trice (Founder and Executive Director, Mission Accomplished); Summer Wright (Street Outreach, Lifeworks)



A Community-Engaged Approach to Addressing the Social Care Needs of Birthing People in Atlanta


A Community-Engaged Approach to Addressing the Social Care Needs of Birthing People in Atlanta

Georgia’s maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the nation with staggering and persistent racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in risk for adverse maternal and infant outcomes. Although understanding and addressing the social and structural drivers of maternal health disparities is a critical research priority for the state, progress toward these goals has been hampered by a top-down approach to social health interventions, particularly in the healthcare setting. The overarching goal of our project is to establish a social determinants of health (SDOH) working group that will collaboratively develop a community-driven social health integration program that addresses the unique needs of pregnant and postpartum people in Atlanta. The project will be co-led by the Center for Black Women’s Wellness and Emory University School of Medicine and aims to: 1) conduct in-depth key informant interviews to better understand the type and impact of social needs on pregnant people living in Atlanta and their families; 2) establish a SDOH working group that equitably involves community members with lived experience, organizational representatives, and researchers with a shared goal of addressing the social needs of birthing persons in the community; and 3) develop and disseminate a community-centered protocol for social needs screening and referral during obstetric care.

Asha Immanuelle (Maternal & Child Health Program Manager, Center for Black Women’s Wellness); Sheree Boulet (Associate Professor, Department of Gynecology & Obstetrics, Emory University School of Medicine); Sandra Lantum (Maternal Health Equity Coordinator, Center for Black Women’s Wellness)



San Diego Community Academic Research for Equitable Social Care


San Diego Community Academic Research for Equitable Social Care (SD CARES)

The San Diego County Promotores Coalition (SDCPC), the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Moores Cancer Center Community Outreach and Engagement (MCC COE), and the UCSD Center for Health Equity Education and Research (CHEER) will partner to advance social care research with emphasis on individuals and families in San Diego County and the surrounding areas. The purpose of this community-academic partnership is to conduct a series of co-led, co-designed and co-facilitated activities that leverage the infrastructure, expertise, and missions of all three organizations to enhance social care research that supports health equity. The proposed activities include the establishment of an Advisory Board to guide our collaborative efforts, a series of training workshops, and development of a Social Care Research Playbook to guide and support sustainable, partnered community-academic research. Our three organizations have a vested interest in partnering to conduct social care research and workforce development rooted in local communities.


SD Cares Partnership Overview

Amanda Schultz Brochu (Director, SDCPC); Mateo Banegas (Co-Director, UCSD CHEER); Jesse Nodora (MCC COE); Maritza Gomez (Community Health Liaison, MCC COE) Margaux Stack-Babich (Community Outreach & Engagement Coordinator, MCC COE); Katheryn Rodriguez (Program Manager, UCSD CHEER)


The Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network (SIREN) was established in 2016 to conduct, catalyze, and disseminate high quality research that advances healthcare sector strategies to improve social conditions, a practice that is coming to be known as ‘social care.’ Although social care research aspires to help address racial inequities, to do so requires improving and deepening how researchers partner with individuals and communities impacted by social needs and social care interventions. Known barriers or challenges to such engagement include gaps in funding and infrastructure for forming and maintaining partnerships and lack of mentorship and coaching for researcher and community partners to participate in these efforts. To support this important work, SIREN developed a new grant opportunity specifically focused on supporting and strengthening partnerships between social care researchers and impacted communities/individuals. This grant opportunity is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Grant #80274).

Advisory Committee

Benjamín Aceves, San Diego State University
Rebekah Angove, Patient Advocate Foundation
Sa’Brina Davis, Patient advisor
Tia Francis, Patient advisor
Njeri Grevious, Patient advisor
Nancy Pandhi, University of New Mexico
Carley Riley, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital/University of Cincinnati
Janice Tufte, Patient advisor
Eric Wat, Independent consultant
Neely Williams, Patient advisor

Request for Applications

The application period for the 2023-2025 SIREN Engagement Grant has concluded. View an archived copy of our Request for Applications here.