This project is a curriculum based educational opportunity implemented in an after- school enrichment setting in a Boston, MA public middle school. The project builds on the active NIMHD funded research intervention study, Nuestro Futuro Saludable. This academic enrichment program is focused on inquiry-based science education, public outreach and community-based information campaigns to educate students, families, and their communities on health research topics within a health equity framework. The program is designed to (1) cultivate a deeper, contextualized understanding of scientific concepts among students related to health disparities and the social determinants of health in their community;(2) teach students to foster their ability to "think" like scientists from various disciplines (eg: epidemiology, sociology, biomedicine) as they study diseases that present disparities in their community (eg: asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDS);and (3) provide an opportunity for students to use what they have learned about health, science, and disparities to develop and carry-out local advocacy and outreach efforts. The project is designed to increase the scientific literacy of Latino and Black students, as well as student interest in the sciences and enthusiasm for studying the sciences by providing research career awareness opportunities, mentoring and information dissemination to increase the representation of underrepresented minority groups in the sciences.
The US will have a majority-minority population by 2042, thus minority health will soon characterize the nation's health. Blacks and Latinos, health disparity populations that bear an unequal burden of preventable disease and disability, demonstrate poor academic achievement in the sciences. Alleviating health disparities requires similar progress in addressing disparities in K-12 education and, therefore, it is imperative to increase the number of these underrepresented minorities in the sciences, medicine, health, and research in order to increase the knowledge base and inform efforts to reduce and eliminate health disparities.