The Barbara Jordan – Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University (TSU) was recently awarded a $3.3 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The grant will expand The HBCU Gulf Coast Equity Consortium, a collaborative project involving Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) formed to address health equity, social inequality and the vulnerability of children and families in the Gulf Coast.
Texas Southern University President Dr. Austin A. Lane said, “We are elated that the Kellogg Foundation has recognized the necessity of this critical research cooperative to improve the lives of people living in the region. It is in line with TSU’s mission as a special-purpose institution dedicated to urban programming, and highlights the academic depth and strength of our talented faculty member and researcher Dr. Robert Bullard and the entire HBCU consortium team.”
Dr. Robert Bullard, a distinguished professor in TSU’s School of Public Affairs, and Dr.Beverly Wright of the Dillard University Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, served as the grant’s co-principal investigators.
“We are excited that the Kellogg Foundation grant allows us to expand our HBCU community-university equity network to address health and environmental issues in the Gulf Coast region using an equity and racial justice lens,” Dr. Bullard said. “Collectively, our HBCUs are in a unique position to build partnerships and implement a ‘southern initiative’ to address equity challenges that are unique to the South given our region’s history and legacy.”
“It is our goal to improve the quality of life for families and children in environmental justice communities through research, data collection, community training and advocacy,” Dr. Wright said. “This generous grant from the Kellogg Foundation gives us the opportunity to do this work.”
The project will focus on addressing social inequality, health equity and the well-being of children (prenatal to age eight) and families in five Gulf Coast states – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida – with a special emphasis on Houston, New Orleans, Gulfport-Biloxi, Mobile, and Pensacola.
The Gulf Coast region ranked highest in poverty, food insecurity and “food deserts,” uninsured, and access to parks. The region also ranked in the bottom quartile for the state health-system performance, family and community well-being, and child well-being. Children in the region are considered at “ground zero” of multiple environmental assaults. According to the 2014 Kids Count report, the South (including Gulf Coast states) is the worst place for children and families due in part to hosting a disproportionate share of the nation’s chemical plants, refineries, seaports, and other dangerous polluting industries.
The HBCU Gulf Coast Equity Consortium, using state-of-the-art tools, community input and policy review/analysis to develop comprehensive plans and action strategies, seeks to improve the quality of life of children and families in the Gulf Coast.