The Urban League of Portland has been dedicated to serving the African American community and others since 1945. This work has taken shape in many forms with advocacy and civic engagement at the forefront, leading the way for more opportunities for our community to get engaged on multiple levels.
In 2010 our Health Equity team began to think about how the Urban League could best support and empower the community and those who continue to do on the ground work, keeping their communities healthy and strong. The culturally specific Community Health Worker (CHW) program was born out of these talks about health equity, barriers to accessing care, health disparities faced by the African American community and the need to see culturally specific services provided by those who represent the community, available.
The Urban League of Portland, in partnership with a coalition of health focused nonprofits and government offices, launched the We Are Health Movement culturally-specific community health worker training in 2013. The inaugural class of 28 African and African American community health workers were trained and state certified this summer. A second cohort followed in early 2014. The Urban League of Portland is committed to the success of our CHWs and the ongoing support of their work, so we have created a Community Health Worker Hub which will function as a venue and support for state-certified, culturally-specific community health workers. Our CHW Hub support services include continuing education and training, providing opportunities for leadership and advocacy work, and supporting living wage employment as a CHW. We also function as advocates and navigators for the integration of CHWs into the health care system, community based organizations, advocacy groups and in leadership roles. By creating a network of certified African and African American CHWs the Urban League can continue to advocate, support, empower and fight for the community from within the community.