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Olivia Morris (MPP ‘24) reaches final round of the Michigan Health Equity Challenge

January 19, 2024

Copeland Fellow Olivia Morris (MPP ‘24) was one of 10 University of Michigan graduate students selected for the inaugural Michigan Health Equity Challenge, which aims to develop community-based solutions to health equity challenges in Southeast Michigan. 

The selected finalists will partner with local community-based organizations, applying their multidisciplinary approaches to diverse health and social policy domains. In recognition of their outstanding proposals, each finalist project will be awarded an initial grant of $2,000 and participate in a three-month mentorship and training program. 

Morris identified a need to address health coverage gaps in Washtenaw County, specifically among African Americans over the age of 65. She is working in collaboration with the Washtenaw Health Project, an organization that works to provide near-universal access to healthcare coverage for people living in the county. A critical component of her project is to build relationships and improve outreach and communication efforts with this underserved population. She proposes tailoring information about health coverage options, particularly for those dual eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, in the hopes that it would help underinsured individuals make informed decisions about their health. 

“The Washtenaw Health Project has built their own outreach approaches. WHP understands the distinct challenges faced by Washtenaw’s community members,” Morris explained. “I’m collaborating with this organization to identify unmet needs and determine effective interventions.”

To assist her efforts, Morris will be mentored by U-M health economist Dr. Thuy Nguyen. Morris says she wanted to work with a professor who could help her understand the data and research behind healthcare coverage challenges in America. 

“I am passionate about the public sector’s role in providing affordable and quality health care for all Americans,” Morris said. “I’m looking forward to working with the Washtenaw Health Project to develop strong and effective outreach to a vulnerable population.”

Later this year, two projects from the challenge will be selected and will receive an additional award of $1,000 and their partner organizations will also receive a grant of up to $50,000 to implement the program.

Read the finalists’ bios and about their proposals on the Michigan Health Equity Challenge website.


About the Michigan Health Equity Challenge

The Michigan Health Equity Challenge was established through a $100,000 grant from the MolinaCares Accord and Molina Healthcare of Michigan, to the University of Michigan School of Public in the fall of 2023. The school’s Griffith Leadership Center is hosting and managing the program. The Michigan Health Equity Challenge is an opportunity for a competitively selected group of graduate students at the University of Michigan to partner with a community-based organization in Southeast Michigan to develop realistic solutions to identified health equity problems.