Hester Street is partnering with United Way of NYC to support implementation of the Choose Healthy Life Black Clergy Action Plan (CHL), an effort to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on Black communities in five cities across the U.S. – NYC, Newark, Detroit, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. CHL leverages the power of Black churches and faith institutions – trusted and respected organizations in the Black community – to expand access to COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, vaccines and other health services in underserved communities.

In honor of this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an esteemed panel of faith leaders – including newly elected U.S. Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts – joined leading health experts to publicly launch this national effort. Every city partnership includes a local United Way chapter alongside 10 local churches, who will collectively lead grassroots efforts to expand access to COVID-19 testing and vaccination in underserved Black communities. 

The Hester Street team is providing this momentous effort with strategic technical assistance and expertise in community engagement, data/research, mapping, design and communications to bolster the work of clergy leaders on-the-ground; fortify community infrastructure; strengthen local networks; increase long-term community resilience; and, ultimately, save lives in Black communities.  On January 26th,  Hester Street also helped organize a day-long, virtual gathering of United Way affiliates, clergy leaders, Public Health Navigators and other stakeholders to showcase the CHL project, answer questions, and provide tools, information and inspiration to partners. 

Recent data shows that COVID-19 is killing Black Americans at substantially higher rates than any other population in the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Black individuals are hospitalized from COVID-19 at a rate 5x than that of non-Hispanic whites, and are dying at a rate as much as 7x higher. Increased testing, expansive vaccination, access to health resources, and educational campaigns are essential to stopping the spread of the virus in many Black communities that are being disproportionately devastated by the pandemic.

Read more about the CHL launch from the United Way of NYC and in City & State NY.