RCHN Community Health Foundation Awards $7 Million to GW’s Geiger Gibson Program in Community Health Policy

The collaboration has produced over 100 publications on health equity, health care access, community health centers and has informed health care policy and decision-making.

tempietto
May 12, 2021

The RCHN Community Health Foundation (RCHN CHF) has awarded $7 million—one of its three final major gifts as a private foundation—to the Geiger Gibson Program in Community Health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, the nation’s leading academic program focusing on community health centers and the communities and populations they serve.

Named after Dr. H. Jack Geiger and Dr. Count Gibson, pioneers in health and human rights and founders of the community health center movement, the Geiger Gibson Program has achieved recognition for its relevant and timely reports on health equity and community health that inform health policy decision-making.

“We are incredibly grateful to the RCHN Community Health Foundation for this gift that will give us the opportunity to not only maintain, but strengthen, what has become a premier resource for community health center policy, scholarship and training,” said GW President Thomas J. LeBlanc.

GW’s Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Donna Arbide added that the investment by RCHN CHF over the lifetime of the Geiger Gibson Program has been a chief driver in the Program’s success to date. 

“RCHN CHF funding over the past 14 years has supported our faculty in making path-breaking contributions to research and policy development around issues of critical importance to community health centers and medically underserved communities,” she said. “A gift this size will take their impact to new heights.”

Since 2007, RCHN CHF has supported the Geiger Gibson / RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative, which has produced more than 100 policy analyses, data briefs, blogs and peer-reviewed publications on issues facing community health centers and the health care needs of underserved communities. In partnership with the RCHN CHF, the Collaborative has also created scores of infographics and visuals to communicate the effects of health centers on access to care, reducing gaps in health inequality and the implications of major policies for health centers and the communities they serve. 

Policy analysis by the program’s faculty and staff experts has addressed:

  • National health reform and medically underserved communities. A Geiger Gibson report on the cost-effectiveness of health centers helped inform Congress’s decision to establish a Community Health Center Fund under the Affordable Care Act, fueling a 22% growth in the number of health centers and a 40% growth in patients served.

  • Community health centers as public health first responders in crises such as the opioid epidemic, HIV/AIDS, natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Community health centers’ special roles in serving key patient populations, including veterans, farmworkers and the homeless.

  • Community health centers’ role in the health of women and families through family planning programs and how policies that undermine family planning could affect health centers’ ability to fulfill their preventive health mission.

  • Community health centers’ role in improving community health through community-wide health improvement initiatives.

“This gift from the RCHN Community Health Foundation comes at a critical time in education, community health and policy-making,” said Lynn R. Goldman, the Michael and Lori Milken Dean of the Milken Institute SPH. “It will allow us to preserve and grow the multi-faceted academic and research initiatives that have been a hallmark of the Geiger Gibson Program.”

Housed in the School’s Department of Health Policy and Management, the Geiger Gibson Program also has played an important role for Milken Institute SPH students, offering research assistantships along with the opportunity to interact with policy leaders from Congress and federal administrative agencies to individual state policy forums and the judicial branch.

The RCHN CHF gift will build on and expand the existing scope of work, providing support for the Geiger Gibson Program’s Health Policy Fellows program for health center staff, awards and recognition programs for Emerging Leaders and Distinguished Visitors, collaboration with the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, cutting-edge scholarship on health equity and law and expansion of the community health and equity focus within the department’s Master of Health Administration programs.

“The Geiger Gibson Program was envisioned by our Department of Health Policy and Management’s long-standing work on health equity, creating an academic home for the study of community health centers’ impact on health and health care and policies that advance health care for the medically underserved,” said Sara Rosenbaum, the Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy at Milken Institute SPH and the founder of the Geiger Gibson Program at GW. “This gift, coming just as the pandemic has underscored the enormous contributions of health centers, is of immeasurable importance in supporting this work going forward.”

Feygele Jacobs, RCHN CHF’s president and CEO, said the foundation has had a robust voice through policy research, grant-making and investment in on-the-ground initiatives to improve health and health care.

We’ve had the remarkable privilege to do this work, and this gift to GW, along with our other major gifts, will underscore our legacy and build on our investment at a crucial time for community health,” Dr. Jacobs said. 

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