Skip to main content

Enhancing Health Equity on the Southwest Side

From Our Neighborhood News, Fall 2023

Through a $75,000 Racial Equity and Community Partnership Grant, a soon-to-open community wellness facility on Chicago’s Southwest Side has greatly benefited from a partnership with the Osher Center for Integrative Health in Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. The Cultivate Collective/Academy for Global Citizenship site will include teaching kitchens, healthcare and fitness centers, and a produce marketplace.

“We have found the Osher team to be incredibly engaged with their time, interest, and passion,” says Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, Cultivate Collective’s executive director. “This grant has allowed us to mobilize more quickly and efficiently to assess the needs of our community and to ensure that community voice remains at the center of driving programmatic offerings.”

In addition to offering needs assessments, advice on program implementation, and help in exploring grant opportunities, the Osher Center facilitated focus groups and monthly community meetings as plans for the new wellness hub were developed. “In essence, our role is to act as a supportive collaborator,” says Osher Center director Melinda Ring, “using our resources and expertise to help Cultivate Collective strengthen its community health initiatives.”

“Having a direct line of access to the Osher team has been invaluable,” says Ippel. “They have helped to develop the framework for our evaluation processes, served as a valuable thought partner for the implementation of our teaching kitchens, and advised on food audit surveying, among many other critical needs. They have also invited us to join their team at conference presentations, which have provided us the opportunity to share our health equity model with a wider audience, in addition to networking with other potential partners and collaborators.”

The partnership has benefited the Osher Center as well. “Our collaboration with Cultivate Collective isn’t a one-way street—it’s a relationship that strengthens our connection to the community, informs our understand- ing of community needs, and shapes our actions in response,” Ring says.

By specifically addressing healthcare disparities affecting communities of color, the partnership advances the Osher Center’s goal of promoting racial equity in health outcomes.

“This collaboration allows us to extend the impact of our work into the community,” Ring says, “bringing our commitment to innovative patient care and prevention- focused education directly to those who need it most.”

 TO LEARN MORE about Cultivate Collective, visit