Press Release

Rep. Cuellar Announces Nearly $4 million In Federal Funds to San Antonio Metropolitan Health District

Funding will fight COVID-19 and improve health literacy among racial and ethnic minorities and vulnerable communities

Washington, D.C.—Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) announced $3,999,933 in federal funding to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (SAMHD). These funds, awarded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) initiative, will be used over the next two-years to identify and implement best practices for improving health literacy to enhance COVID-19 vaccination and other mitigation practices among underserved populations.

"The pandemic exposed inequities in our health care system and has wreaked havoc on our physical and mental health as well as our economy,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Educating the public on why receiving the vaccine is the best path forward to defeating the virus will save countless lives move us forward in building back better. This federal investment will improve the resources available in San Antonio and its surrounding communities. As a senior member on the Appropriations Committee, I remain committed to funding initiatives that will help families and our communities overcome the pandemic and become better prepared for any future public health emergencies."   

Specifically, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District will:

  1. Develop health literacy and health communication training for an interprofessional audience of health providers using virtual and in-person modalities.  
  2. Create a pipeline of future healthcare professionals equipped with health literacy skills by scaling up our nationally-recognized Community Service Learning (CSL) mini-midi grant program.  
  3. Engage community members and local and natural leaders to develop various informational messages and methods, including digital stories and peer-to-peer learning that meet each community's health literacy levels and needs.  
  4. Propose to disseminate COVID-19 related information more broadly through community-based organizations and culturally and linguistically appropriate programs that community members already access for services.  
  5. Train Community Health Workers (CHWs) and public health students trained in contact tracing to serve as navigators to increase access to COVID-19 services like testing and vaccinations and demystify the contract tracing process."  

Though this two-year initiative, the project will demonstrate the effectiveness of working with local community-based organizations to develop health literacy plans to increase the availability, acceptability, and use of COVID-19 public health information and services by racial and ethnic minority populations. The project will also focus on other populations considered vulnerable for not receiving and using COVID-19 public health information. Recipients are also expected to leverage local data to identify racial and ethnic minority populations at the highest risk for health disparities and low health literacy, as well as populations not currently reached through existing public health campaigns.

SAMHD will partner with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.  

The initiative is expected to begin on July 1