Pilot Grants

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Pilot Grant Recipients Present at Health Equity Seminar Series

Recipients of a 2020 Pilot Grant in Health Disparities Research, Dylan Jennings (Bizhikiins) and Dana Carroll, PhD, MPH, presented their research at the October Health Equity Seminar Series co-sponsored by PHDR and C2DREAM. Along with co-investigator Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD, their overall research goal was to create a program that utilizes traditional tobacco to reframe what tobacco is (sacred) and is not (addictive). Carroll and Jennings will continue their research partnership with a grant from the National Cancer Institute. They will tailor QuitGuide, an existing smartphone-delivery cessation resource, and pilot test whether it is a feasible and acceptable smoking cessation resource for American Indian persons who smoke. Check back with us on our website in December for information on applying to the next cycle of Pilot Grants. Please visit the Health Equity Seminar Series page to view recordings of past presentations or to register to attend the next presentation. 

Pilot Grant Recipients Hold a Community Presentation and Conversation to Disseminate Research Results

Recipients of a 2020 Pilot Grant in Health Disparities Research, Rodolfo Gutierrez, PhD and Gabriela Bustamante, PhD, presented their Un Poco de Luz: Learning from Cervical Cancer Screening among Uninsured Hispanics in Minnesota research findings to the community on September 23, 2022. Gutierrez and Bustamante identified factors that have contributed to the high level of usage of free cervical cancer screening (CCS) services provided by the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) Sage program among low-income uninsured and underinsured Hispanic women in Minnesota using focus groups and in-depth interviews. In addition to sharing research findings, they debuted a video co-created by and starring participants from the study and produced by MLatino Media promoting cervical cancer screening and the use of the Sage program. To stay informed about what HACER is doing, please visit their website. For information on applying to the next cycle of Pilot Grants, check back here in December. 

About PHDR's Pilot Grants

The University of Minnesota Program in Health Disparities Research announces Pilot Grants in Health Disparities Research annually. These grants are designed to encourage community-initiated research and foster sustainable long-term collaboration between community-based organizations and academic researchers on research projects focused on reducing and eliminating health disparities. The Pilot Grant program is made possible with support from the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota; and the Office for Business & Community Economic Development Community Health Initiative (CHI), University of Minnesota.

Funding for pilot grants will not be available during this cycle.

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Verna Price, PhD, Power of the People Leadership Institute Co-Founder

Rose Baumann, DO, Mobile Health Initiative University of Minnesota 


Mark A. Klein, MD, University of Minnesota Department of Medicine and Masonic Cancer Center University of Minnesota & Minneapolis VA Medical Center

Tammy A, Butterick, PhD, University of Minnesota Department of Neuroscience, Minneapolis VA Medical Center & Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization

Janeen H. Trembley, PhD, MSPH, University of Minnesota Department of Lab Med & Path and Masonic Cancer Center & Minneapolis VA Medical Center 



Funding Priorities

Projects must be conducted within a partnership between community-based organizations and academic researchers. Priority will be given to projects that:

1. The Masonic Cancer Center (MCC) Community Research Grant supports (up to 2) proposals for cancer-related health disparities in Minnesota.

    • Because our goal is to reduce the burden of cancer in Minnesota, proposals must identify and address a disparity in cancer incidence, treatment, or outcomes among groups of Minnesotans. Groups can be defined by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or geography (e.g. rural). All proposals addressing cancer risk factors need to be directly tied to cancer.
    • Special consideration will be given to projects that address one of the Cancer Center’s catchment priorities, including disparities in incidence and mortality of colon, liver, and prostate cancers, geographic and racial/ethnic disparities in colon cancer screening, and disparities in infection-related cancers.
        • Examples of appropriate topics include, but are not limited to: lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, diet, and physical activity; environmental exposures to different types of chemicals and radiation; certain types of infections known to cause cancer (e.g., Hepatitis B and liver cancer, HPV and cervical cancer).
        • Topics related to socioeconomic barriers to cancer care, screening, education, or clinical trials will be considered.

2. The Community Health Initiative (CHI) Research Grant supports up to two proposals work that reduces or eliminates Health Disparities in North Minneapolis.  Proposed research projects must address a public health issue that has been identified by a community or community-based nonprofit organization.

3. You may submit a dissemination research project related to one or both of the topics listed above.  Dissemination research projects must have a rigorous evaluation component. Grant awardees previously funded by PHDR are encouraged to apply.

    • Dissemination research is a broader sharing of new knowledge generated from a research project.
        • “Broader sharing” refers to the dissemination of research findings to a target audience(s). For example, a plan that focuses on individuals, groups, organizations, and/or decision-makers to learn about research findings. New and creative ways of sharing information are highly encouraged.
        • “New knowledge” refers to all information or resources generated from research. For example, new products or materials from an intervention, findings from a survey, and focus group and interview results.
        • “A Research Project” includes all types of study designs.
        • “Generated from a research project” refers to research findings from a prior or existing community-academic partnership.



  • All community-based, 501(c)(3) organizations with an interest in health disparities are eligible to apply.
  • Community-based organizations with or without an established working relationship with an academic researcher are welcome to submit a letter of intent.
    • Letters of Intent from organizations without an established working relationship with an academic researcher will be matched with a researcher with similar interests at the University of Minnesota by Program staff. Continued consideration will be based on suitable matches; if no appropriate match is made, the applicant will be duly informed.
    • After matches are made, each project will consist of a minimum of two co-principal investigators—at least one member from a community-based organization and one academic researcher. If the matched research teams agree to work together, they will be invited to submit a full research proposal.
    • Prior awardees are eligible to apply with new or expansions of previous projects.

Required Letter of Intent

A letter of intent is required. 

You may submit the LOI via a Google Form or email a completed LOI document to hdpilotgrants@umn.edu by [dates TBD for future cycles]. 

The LOI form can be found at https://z.umn.edu/2023HDPGLOIForm.

The LOI document for downloading can be found at https://z.umn.edu/2023HDPGLOIDoc.

Pre-application Technical Workshop

The pre-application technical workshop will provide community and academic partners who have been invited to submit a full application with technical assistance to guide them through the grant application process.

The pre-application technical workshop webinar will be sent out with the invitation to apply, and here. A virtual pre-application technical workshop office hour for further questions after watching the webinar is scheduled for [dates TBD for future cycles].

Please check back in for more information in [dates TBD for future cycles]. 

Application Guidelines

1. Submit a Letter of Intent
A letter of intent is required. You may submit the LOI via a Google Form or email a completed LOI document to hdpilotgrants@umn.edu by [dates TBD for future cycles].

The LOI form can be found at https://z.umn.edu/2023HDPGLOIForm.

The LOI document for downloading can be found at https://z.umn.edu/2023HDPGLOIDoc.

2. Invitation to Submit a Full Application
Matching will begin after LOIs have been submitted for community-based organizations without academic partners. Invitations to submit a full application will be sent out by [dates TBD for future cycles]. Application details will be provided with the invitation. Deadline for full applications is [dates TBD for future cycles]. No late applications will be accepted.

Review and Scoring Criteria

All applications will be reviewed by a committee consisting of individuals from the local community and the University of Minnesota faculty and staff. Applicants will be notified of the review outcome by [dates TBD for future cycles]. Awards will be made for one-year. Awardees will be required to attend the Kickoff Orientation and Partnership Workshop. Information on that will be provided [dates TBD for future cycles]. Additionally, all awardees will need to commit to PHDR’s partnership support and problem-solving process.

Full Applications will be evaluated based on the following six criteria:

  1. Specific aims – Each proposal should have clearly stated Specific Aims with measurable objectives. This section should include a clear statement of the primary research question(s) being addressed by the proposed study.
  2. Background and significance – This section should address the following questions:
    • What is the significance of the health disparity topic or health issue being addressed?
    • What is currently known about the health disparity topic?
    • What gaps in knowledge will the proposed study address?
    • How will the proposed study reduce health disparities and improve the health of the target population? This section also should describe the applicants’ relevant experience with the proposed topic.
  3. Community – In this section, please address the following:
    • Who is/are the group(s) that will benefit from this research project?
    • How are they involved in the proposed research?
    • What community-academic decision- making process is in place for the study?
    • How are communities represented in decision-making at each level of the project?
  4. Methodology – The proposal should include a clear description of the study design and assessment, evaluation tools, or other methods appropriate to the Specific Aims and research questions. Dissemination research projects must have rigorous evaluation methods that are clearly described. For example, evaluations might include: Who did the resources/information reach? Did the audience find the resources/information useful? How did the audience use the resources/information? How do they intend to use the resources/information in the future?
  5. Dissemination – The proposal should describe how and to whom the findings will be disseminated. Dissemination costs also should be included in the budget, with appropriate justifications.
  6. Long-Term Plan – The proposal should describe:
    • Implications of this project for advancing this type of research
    • Plans for future research and funding after the project is completed

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about the pilot grant program? Check out the Frequently Asked Questions.

Email Maiyia at hdpilotgrants@umn.edu if you have additional questions.



Tallaya Byers, Envision Leader, Envision Communities, Inc.
Armel Green, Envision Leader, Envision Communities, Inc.
Sherry Shannon, Envision Leader, Envision Communities, Inc.
Freddy Toran, Envision Leader, Envision Communities, Inc.
Stuart Grande, PhD, MPA, Senior Lecturer, Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health


Shaunequa James, MSW, BSW, LGSW, Gilda's Club Program Director
Rachel I. Vogel, PhD, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Minnesota Medical School

HmongHPV eHealth website: A Pilot to Evaluate Dissemination Strategies
Kathleen Culhane-Pera, MD, MA, Community Clinician Researcher, SoLaHmo Partnership for Health and Wellness
April Wilhelm, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School
Empowering Parents for Wellness in Shelter (EMPOWER): Adapting and scaling a shelter-based health empowerment program for parenting youth experiencing homelessness
Christina Heineken Woodlee, MPA, Senior Director of Strategy and Partnership, Bridge for Youth
Janna Gewirtz O'Brien, MD, MPH, FAAP, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Digital Breast Cancer Champions: Increasing access to care for underserved communities 
Benita Robinson, Sisters Standing up to Breast Cancer
David Haynes, PhD, Assistant Professor, Institute for Health Informatics
Participatory Theater to share learnings about living with Type 2 Diabetes while homeless
Maren Ward, Artistic Direction, zAmya Theater
Kate Vickery, MD, MSc, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota
Implementation of Culturally Tailored Lung Cancer Screening In The Native American Community Clinic
Antony Stately, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Native American Community Clinic
Shannon (Fahey) Klingelhutz, MS, Chief Information Officer, Native American Community Clinic
Abbie Begnaud, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine, Department of Medicine 
Utilizing traditional tobacco to reframe what tobacco is and is not to promote commercial smoking cessation in American Indians
Dylan Jennings (Bizhikiins), Tribal Council member, Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Dana Mowls Carroll, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health and University of Minnesota and Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Minnesota and Associate Director of Cancer Prevention and Control, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
Un poco de luz: Learning from cervical cancer screening among uninsured Hispanics in Minnesota
Rodolfo Gutierrez, PhD, Executive Director, Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research (HACER)
Gabriela Bustamante Callejas, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Program in Health Disparities Research, University of Minnesota Medical School

Activating Nature Play to Reduce Cancer Disparities in Red Wing
Erin Aadalen, Live Healthy Red Wing
Cathy Jordan, PhD, Institute on the Environment, Department of Pediatrics

The African Immigrant Memory Loss Assessment Project
Wynfred Russell, African Career, Education & Resources, Inc. (ACER)
Joseph E. Gaugler, PhD, Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health


Choosing Life in the Black Community, Achieving the Dream: A Learned Self-Management Program for Trauma
Alfred Babington-Johnson, Stairstep Foundation
Jonathan Miller, PhD, Family Medicine and Community Health

Stress Exposure, Acculturation, and Cancer Screening in East African Men and Women
Jemal Tufe, Oromo Community of Minnesota
Motohiro Nakajima, PhD, Family Medicine & Behavioral Health
Mustafa al’Absi, PhD, Family Medicine & Behavioral Health

Reading for Health: Reducing Cancer Screening Disparities Through Addressing Health Literacy in the Somali Community
Imam Sharif Mohamed, Islamic Civil Society of America
Rebekah Pratt, PhD, Family Medicine & Community Health


Healing Project
Rev. Alika Galloway, Liberty Community Church (formerly Kwanzaa Community Presbyterian Church)
Ross VeLure Roholt, PhD, MSW, School of Social Work, UMN College of Education & Human Development
Lauren Martin, Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC)

Increasing HPV vaccination in American Indian health systems through a tailored toolkit
Kristine Rhodes, MPH, American Indian Cancer Foundation
Annie-Laurie McRee, DrPH, General Pediatrics & Adolescent Health, Department of Pediatrics, UMN Medical School