Latest Projects

COVID Community Partnership (CCP) Project

Project Introduction

The COVID Community Partnership (CCP) project employs community health workers (CHWs) from diverse communities throughout the state by partnering with community-based organizations (CBO) and local health departments (LHD) to incorporate CHWs into the COVID-19 response. The project aims to address COVID-19 related disparities in Utah's under-resourced communities by connecting individuals to resources, combating misinformation and supporting equitable vaccine distribution efforts.

Project Progress

The CCP project was established in May 2020 and is currently in its fifth phase. The CCP project is partnered with 20 CBOs and all 13 of Utah's LHDs.

How This Project Aligns With OHE’s Foundational Practices

The CCP project works to achieve the OHE foundational principles, primarily Strategy #2 of working across agencies and Strategy #3 of fostering community partnerships. Project activities and evaluated outcomes can be read in the most recent CCP report.

CCP achieves strategy 2A through collaboration with all 13 of Utah’s local health departments to advance health equity and reduce health disparities in the COVID response. CCP provides technical assistance to support contracted local health departments and tailors tools and resources as needed.

CCP achieves strategy 3A by engaging communities, as well as 3B by learning with communities. CCP conducts regular check-in calls with community health workers to provide training, support, and serve as a space to promote two-way dialogue. This allows community health workers to share experiences of community members and provide valuable feedback and input that helps to shape program activities. CCP also achieves strategy 3C, as the foundation of CCP is built upon supporting community health workers through consistent training and technical assistance. Internal infrastructure is developed through CCP, including built-in mental health resources and support of the community health worker workforce certification.

Community Health Workers

Building the Capacity of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Utah

Project Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of Community Health Workers (CHWs) as essential health workers because of their connection to underserved and underrepresented communities. The Office of Health Equity (OHE) supports building the capacity of CHWs and expanding this workforce to help strengthen our communities.

Through the OT grant, OHE assisted in building Community Health Worker workforce infrastructure to address COVID-19 health disparities and advance health equity in Utah by building Community Health Worker capacity through communication, networking, training, and skill building.

OHE established a partnership with the Utah Public Health Association’s Community Health Worker Section (UPHA CHW Section) to support in the effort to start the Utah Community Health Workers Association (UCHWA) to house an independent CHW workforce organization in Utah and provide an abundance of resources to our CHWs.

Project Progress

  • Supporting CHWs and its workforce: CHWs are part of a network through the UPHA CHW Section where they are offered professional development and training opportunities to help build their CHWs skills. In this section meeting, CHWs learned different skills to put into practice when they are interacting with the clients, skills not only to put into practice for themselves but also to teach their clients to create a better environment for them and their families.
  • CHW Certification: CHWs and advocates for the initiative have worked closely with the Department of Health and Human Services and Senator Escamilla to get a bill passed for CHW Certification that provides a voluntary certification pathway to allow CHWs to signal to employers and community members they serve that their expertise and work is recognized and valued. Through this certification pathway, employers will have an assurance of the certified CHWs community connectedness and competencies.
  • Promoting healthy lifestyles and how it can make a difference in their lives and the ones around them. Things as simple as setting a weekly goal on a physical activity, starting a small exercise routine that could be a 20 minutes walk, playing in the park with their kids or dogs for 30 minutes, not forgetting that making changes in their diet is another important aspect when it comes to changing health habits, things like adding more fruits and vegetables in all our meals, eating lean protein, and decreasing the consumption of sugars and processed foods among others.
  • CHWs learn through a skills course the importance of empathy and sympathy towards others. This helps them to better understand as a CHW how they can respond appropriately to certain situations.


  • CCP Project, CBO, and LHD CHWs can gain access to the UPHA CHW Section where they learn about best practices for CHW efforts, training from experienced CHWs and organizations, and updates throughout the state about COVID-19 and other health issues facing their communities.
  • The CHW Certification Bill was passed during the legislative session and the CHWs, stakeholders, and Department of Health and Human Services are working together to implement certification.

How This Project Aligns With OHE’s Foundational Practices

Foster Community Partnerships

Community health workers are trusted health equity agents who promote and improve health and quality of life by connecting and educating individuals and their communities. The two main objectives the OHE focuses on are: Supporting the workforce development and sustainability through contracts, training and technical assistance; and developing internal infrastructure to support certification of the community health worker workforce. We have met these objectives by partnering with CHWs from Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Local Health Departments (LHDs) throughout the state and through the Covid Community Partnership Project (CCP) and the Utah Public Health Association (UPHA) CHW Section. These are spaces where the CHWs obtain training in community health work and COVID topics, how to access resources, and how to be an advocate for their communities. OHE provides technical assistance to CHWs regarding these areas which can help strengthen our partnerships.

Alliances and networks are formed to collectively advance health equity by increasing awareness and assuring accountability. One objective for this strategy is to support rural and urban CBOs to foster alliances and capacity to serve and reach vulnerable communities through contracts, training, and technical assistance. Through the CCP Project and the UPHA CHW Section, we collaborate with CBOs and other community partners’ CHWs to provide the resources, training, and other assistance needed to ensure they have all the tools they need to best serve their communities.

The Embrace Project Study

Project Introduction (March 2021–June 2022)

The Embrace Project Study (Embrace) is a community-based participatory research study focused on addressing health in maternal mortality and morbidity and diabetes. Embrace is developed by the Utah Department of Health Office of Health Equity and the University of Utah Health’s The Wellness Bus in partnership with community health workers from community-based organizations. This study focuses on addressing maternal mortality and morbidity and diabetes health disparities among women 18–44 years old who are Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Hispanic or Latina, and Refugee and new American along Utah’s Wasatch Front in Salt Lake, Weber, Davis, and Utah counties.

The aim of Embrace is to reduce health disparities among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women by providing culturally responsive health services for the women in this study. Embrace focuses on mental health and self-care for women so they are able to thrive for their current and future generations. Embrace also roots mental and self-care practices in ancestral NHPI cultural traditions and emphasizes culture as a source of resilience.

Through the University of Utah Health’s The Wellness Bus, a mobile health clinic which provides chronic disease screenings in key neighborhoods, the study is able to provide biometric screenings and health coaching sessions. Embrace is also partnered with five community-based organizations , National Tongan American Society, Utah Pacific Islander Health Coalition, Comunidad Materna en Utah, Project Success Coalition, and Utah Muslim Civic League, who each serve their community members. Embrace works and supports community health workers (CHWs) who are able to support and engage community members in the study.

How This Project Aligns With OHE’s Foundational Practices

Build Internal Infrastructure

The Embrace Project Study (Embrace) focuses on addressing the health disparities in diabetes and maternal mortality and morbidity impacting communities participating in the study, particularly Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. Embrace has utilized data from previous years to provide evidence to show the need of this study. In addition, Embrace has provided valuable data training to community health workers, and has provided opportunities for diversifying data collection skillsets.

Work Across Agencies

The Embrace Project Study (Embrace) would not be possible without the University of Utah Health’s The Wellness Bus and National Tongan American Society, Utah Pacific Islander Health Coalition, Project Success Coalition, Comunidad Materna en Utah, and Utah Muslim Civic League. These partnerships were vital to the implementation, recruitment, retention, and impact of Embrace for community members.

Foster Community Partnerships

The Embrace Project Study (Embrace) was partnered with five community-based organizations including National Tongan American Society, Utah Pacific Islander Health Coalition, Project Success Coalition, Comunidad Materna en Utah, and the Utah Muslim Civic League. Embrace also collaborated with the University of Utah Health’s The Wellness Bus to engage women in the study through biometric screenings and health coaching sessions. These partnerships with community-based organizations and community health workers was key to the retention of women in the study, as community health workers are foundational for the trust with community members, and to expand the skills and knowledge of data collection for community health workers to broaden their skillset.

Expand the Narrative

The Embrace Project Study’s (Embrace) focus is diabetes and maternal mortality and morbidity health disparities among women from diverse backgrounds along Utah’s Wasatch Front. A unique aspect of Embrace’s curriculum is rooted in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander culture and traditions. One component that Embrace focuses on is mental health. Mental health is vital to the health and wellbeing of everyone, particularly among women of childbearing age in these communities. Providing education on mental health and self-care is essential for women in this study. Mental health continues to be stigmatized, and self-care is often seen through a narrow lens. This study focuses on mental health and self-care grounded in cultural practices and beliefs, reimagining and changing the narrative around what self-care should be, and expanding self-care to include everyone.

Local Health Departments

Building the Capacity for Health Equity at the Local Health Departments

Project Introduction

As part of the Strategic Plan for 2021-2023, The Office of Health Equity (OHE) has contracted with Utah’s 13 local health departments (LHDs) to strategize specific approaches and practices for each local health district to serve vulnerable populations, advance health equity, and address COVID-19 disparities. The local health departments have built out their own strategies and activities that fall under the four key strategies; 1) Build Internal Infrastructure, 2) Work Across Agencies, 3) Foster Community Partnerships, and 4) Expand the Narrative.

Project Progress

Each local health department hired a health equity coordinator and/or an epidemiologist to lead the healthy equity activities, to build organizational capacity and internal infrastructure at the department level to advance health equity (Build Internal Infrastructure). This develops practical skills to apply this understanding across all programs, practices, and interventions. The health equity teams receive tailored technical assistance and trainings provided by the Office of Health Equity and its partners. Another tool the OHE partners created and provided for the LHDs is an online platform used to provide resources and sustain technical assistance as needed (Build Internal Infrastructure).

Through their contracts with OHE, many of the local health departments are focusing on health equity and finding ways to implement it into their practices, new and existing programs, and overall agency. Some local health departments are conducting focus groups and external community health needs assessments with stakeholders and community partners to gather information on where there is overlap in services provided and obtain feedback from the community to assess how well the LHD is doing in providing services. A few local health departments are creating coalitions and boards to strategize with collaborators, community members, advocates, funders, government agencies, private healthcare providers, and many more, to look at existing public policy, address their region’s public health needs, and make impactful and lasting health improvements (Foster Community Partnerships).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with the funding provided by OHE, LHDs have reached out to their existing community partners and created new partnerships, community coalitions, to collaborate and coordinate efforts and resources for their communities. The majority of the LHDs are utilizing community health workers (CHWs). This illustrates the importance of coordinating with collaborators, local organizations, and community members to extend health services to populations in need of assistance (Foster Community Partnerships).


Health Equity Conferences

The Office of Health Equity has a valuable partnership with the Utah Association of Local Health Departments (UALHD). With the help of UALHD, the local health departments hosted a series of regional Health Equity Conferences in the spring of 2023 to reveal their plans for sustainability in their respective regions, share their stories of successes and challenges throughout the project, and celebrate their hard work and accomplishments with each other. The Utah Association of Local Health Departments is an essential partner in coordinating efforts with the Boards of Health for each health department. Their health equity team serves as liaison between all the health officers and health equity teams across all the health departments and is a crucial component to helping facilitate the integration of health equity efforts (Foster Community Partnerships and Expand the Narrative).

Bridging Communities and Clinics Project

Status: Completed

Bridging Communities and Clinics (BCC) is a community-based outreach program developed by the former Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Office of Health Disparities (OHD). All BCC materials were created prior to the merger between UDOH and the Utah Department of Health and Human Services. For more information on how the BCC program was implemented, please contact with your request.

It Takes A Village Project

Status: Completed


The It Takes a Village: Giving Our Babies the Best Chance (ITAV) project was created and completed under the former Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Office of Health Disparities (OHD). All ITAV materials were created prior to the merger between UDOH and the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). For more information on how the ITAV project was implemented, visit the ITAV website.