A photo of a vaccine center for Texas Equitable Vaccine Uptake Fund postThe Hogg Foundation for Mental Health is excited to announce that it has contributed $100,000 to the Texas Equitable Vaccine Uptake Fund. The goal of the Fund is to reduce inequities in the uptake of vaccines by supporting efforts across Texas to address vaccine equity and barriers to access among historically excluded groups.  

The Fund was originally conceived by Episcopal Health Foundation and Greater Houston Community Foundation is acting as the fund administrator. The fund will achieve impact by awarding grants to eligible tax exempt organizations, primarily 501(c)(3) non-profits, or fiscal sponsors for those organizations. Applications for funding will be received through the Greater Houston Community Foundation. 

Experts state that communities of color and other historically excluded groups have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to be at risk of adverse economic and health effects. As of May 8, 2021, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported that 30 percent of Texans had been vaccinated which is well short of the 75-90 percent needed for population immunity. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently reported that vaccinations for Black community members lag 12 percent behind Whites and Hispanics lag behind by 8 percent. 

The Hogg Foundation has previously argued for the importance of vaccine equity, which crucially depends on increasing the number of trusted organizations, voices, and leaders promoting vaccinations in order to further engage people of color and other historically excluded groups. 

“Our priority in joining the Texas Equitable Vaccine Uptake Fund is twofold: to increase vaccination rates and mitigate widening racial health and mental health disparities,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation. “This is the kind of all-hands effort that health philanthropy everywhere should be modeling.”  

The foundation has already responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in a number of ways including emergency funding to support food and job insecurityrelief for grantees, and the newly launched Communities for Children grant initiative. Participating in this fund allows the foundation to support efforts that protect the health of historically excluded groups, work towards the goal of population immunity, and possibly reduce future racial health disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.