The Weaver Grant

This past July marked the one year anniversary of the Weaver Public Engagement and Social Responsiveness Grant.

Dee WeaverGenerously donated by Delores Weaver, this grant was created to help provide funding for student and faculty-led initiatives that increase community engagement in pharmacy. Both new and previously established initiatives are eligible for funding to help start new services, overcome unforeseen obstacles, or increase the population reached with the services.

One of the grant’s first recipients was the Little Earth Interprofessional Indigenous Care Initiative. Anjoli Punjabi, a fourth year student, leads this project to work towards her lifelong goal of increasing access to health care and services for underserved populations.

The initiative expands upon the program Little Earth Strong, which Punjabi, in partnership with Minnesota Pharmacy Student Alliance, helped establish as a diabetes mellitus prevention program. Little Earth Strong provided residents of the Little Earth community with onsite fitness classes and individualized health coaching to increase overall wellness.

The Little Earth community is an American Indian section 8 housing development located in the Phillips Neighborhood of south Minneapolis. The American Indian population sees higher occurrence of diabetes, alcoholism, unintentional injury, suicide, and a lower life expectancy than the average American. Punjabi initially began her work with this community in an attempt to address these health disparities.

The Little Earth Interprofessional Indigenous Care Initiative has several goals to further improve the health of the Little Earth community: establish a monthly interprofessional primary care clinic and create an integrated health care team incorporating both Western medicine and traditional American Indian healing practices. The initiative seeks to maintain the cultural roots of traditional healing practices while incorporating modern medicine through collaboration.

“In all of its efforts, the Little Earth Interprofessional Indigenous Care Initiative emphasizes community ownership, positivity, and a commitment to walking the path to health together,” Punjabi said.

Punjabi’s relationship with the Little Earth community is still unfolding as the initiative continues to be implemented. Her project is a great example of the purpose of the Weaver grant and shows the importance of pharmacy getting involved with the community. Punjabi’s work demonstrates the ability of pharmacy to improve community wellness and increase access to health care.

“Pharmacists have a crucial role in addressing health disparities,” Punjabi said. “If successful, the interprofessional and culturally inclusive model that the initiative will be implementing can be used as a model across the country.”

- Samuel Fish