Six teams earn Phyllis M. Blackman Innovation Grant Awards  

November 8, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees

On Oct. 31, six awards were presented at the Phyllis M. Blackman Innovation Grant Breakfast Award Ceremony in the Towsley Lobby. The event was hosted by the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion.   

The Michigan Medicine DEI mini-grant program was originally created in 2017 as part of the Michigan Medicine DEI 1.0 strategic plan. 

Each year, proposals that best align with the strategic priorities of Michigan Medicine to enhance inclusion, increase diversity and promote equity across the institution for patients, faculty, house officers, staff and learners are selected. 

The grant program is funded by the Office of the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and the Dean of the Medical School and administered by OHEI. Since 2017, OHEI has received 245 applications, awarding 60 innovative proposals totaling over $225,000. 

In 2021, the DEI mini-grant program was renamed the Phyllis M. Blackman Innovation Grants to honor the contributions of former OHEI director and Anti-Racism Oversight Committee co-chair, Phyllis M. Blackman, who retired in 2021. Blackman co-chaired the DEI mini-grant program with Alfreda Rooks, director of Michigan Medicine Community Health Services. Blackman was a catalyst for change and an advocate for diversity at Michigan Medicine and in the community.  

This year, it was a pleasure to have Blackman attend the award ceremony and present awards to the following departments: 

  • Inpatient Therapy Department — Acute Care Physical Therapy: Submitted by Monica Little, D.P.T., P.T., with the support of Trish Mozdzierz, IP acute care PTOT manager. The team was awarded $500 for the translation of communication boards in an array of?languages.  
  • Department of Psychiatry: Submitted by Taylor Schmitt, Ph.D., with the support of Gregory Dalack, M.D., department chair, and Carol Persad, Ph.D., section director. The department was awarded $5,000 to help provide access to resources and mentorship in neuropsychology, in collaboration with Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College.? 
  • Child and Family Life at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital: Submitted by Mia Rodgers, M.A., CCLS, with the support of Lindsay Heering, M.S., CCLS. The team was awarded $3,525 for building belonging and inclusion through an innovative?staff education and patient program, utilizing the power of children’s literature as a resource and tool to create inclusive environments and promote lifelong learning.
  • Department of Dermatology: Submitted by Kourtney Pony, M.D./M.B.A. candidate, with the support of Christopher Bichakjian, M.D., chair, Department of Dermatology. The department was awarded $5,000 for an inaugural Community Outreach Day in the Ypsilanti community to inform residents of the new clinic located at the Ypsilanti Health Clinic. 
  • Nyman Family Unit for Child & Adolescent Mental Health: Submitted by Courtney Simko, learning specialist, with support of Susan Crane, M.S.N., M.Ed, B.A., R.N., C.P.N. The unit was awarded $3,400 for PairPhrase Translation Software to translate materials in Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish for patients and families. 
  • Pediatric Surgery: Submitted by Christine Hubbard, HOPE collaborative director, with the support of Erika Newman, M.D., section head of pediatric surgery, and Erin Perrone, M.D., DEI associate chair. The team was awarded $4,960 to purchase durable equipment for 4th-8th grade students participating in the HOPE Collaborative.  

These projects, as well as previously awarded grants, have benefited faculty, staff, learners and patients in many ways. 

For instance, Steve Vinson shared the very successful DEI Driver program developed with a grant the U-M Medical Group (UMMG) received in 2018. The program was piloted in early 2018, with seven sites and 10 DEI Drivers. Today, there are 165 DEI drivers at approximately 150 different sites. 

If you are interested in applying for a Phyllis M. Blackman Innovation Grant, the next cycle of grants will be awarded in the fall of 2023. The application link will open in August 2023.