Associates in Action: Novartis to Partner with HBCUs and Med Schools for Health Equity

by Julianne Stahl 

Novartis, a CSG Associate, announced a 10-year collaboration to co-create programs that address the root causes of systemic disparities in health outcomes and create greater diversity, equity and inclusion across the research and development ecosystem. Project partners include Coursera, the National Medical Association, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Morehouse School of Medicine and 26 Historically Black Colleges, Universities and Medical Schools (HBCUs). 

Leaders from these companies, organizations and learning institutions have signed a pledge to co-develop programs focused on building trust in the health care system with communities of color and making measurable progress towards health equity. The collaboration will focus on improving access to high-quality education, technology, improved health outcomes and promising jobs; increasing clinical trial and clinical trial investigator diversity; addressing inherent bias in the data standards used to diagnose and treat disease; and finding actionable solutions to environmental and climate issues that disproportionately affect health among communities of color. 

Over an initial period of 10 years, the collaboration will focus on four key areas: 

  1. Enable the next generation of Black and African American leaders by creating equitable access to high quality education and professional development for future leaders in health science, technology and business-related fields. 
  1. Support the establishment of Digitally Enabled Clinical Trial Centers of Excellence, managed and led by clinical researchers of color, to build trust, increase diversity and inclusivity in clinical trials and contribute to improved health outcomes for people of color. 
  1. Research and validate existing data standards that drive diagnosis, clinical trial endpoints and population health policy to identify areas for increased inclusivity and ensure accurate data collection and unbiased treatment decisions. 
  1. Establish Digitally Enabled Research Centers on the impact of the environment and climate change on health to identify solutions to environmental and climate issues that disproportionately affect communities of color. 

As an initial step, the Novartis US Foundation plans to invest $20 million in scholarships, mentorships and research grants over the next 10 years to help create equitable access to high quality education and professional development for HBCU students in health-related fields. 

Administered by Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the program will train and prepare up to 1,200 students: 

  • Scholarships: Three-year scholarships of $10,000 a year for up to 360 students at select Historically Black Colleges, Universities and Medical Schools 
  • Mentorships: Novartis employee volunteers will mentor up to 400 HBCU students, including the scholarship recipients, for a period of three years each, for a total of up to 1,200 students. Students also will receive career readiness and leadership development training 
  • Internships: HBCU undergraduate and medical school students will be encouraged and supported to apply for the Novartis annual internship program 
  • Research grants: Competitive faculty research grant program offering up to ten grants of $25,000 each year to HBCU faculty, focusing on actionable solutions to health equity issues 

“At Novartis, we envision a world with equity in health for all. Just as there are a multitude of factors and causes behind racial disparities in health and education, there is no single solution to this critical challenge. It will take the concerted, urgent action of diverse stakeholders across the public and private sectors,” said Vas Narasimhan, MD, CEO of Novartis. ”We are honored and humbled to work together with these organizations to build enduring solutions to some of the most pressing, deeply rooted, and historic challenges in the United States, and we invite other like-minded companies and organizations to join us in creating this paradigm shift in health equity.” 

For more information about this commitment, please visit www.novartis.us.   

The Entertainment Software Association Launches Initiative with Black Girls Code to Expand Opportunities for Young Women Interested in Tech

by Julianne Stahl 

In March, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a CSG Associate, announced a $1 million, multi-year initiative with the ESA Foundation and Black Girls CODE (BGC) to support educational and mentoring programs for girls and young women interested in technology. The initiative boosts BGC’s mission of teaching coding and technology skills to one million girls and young women by 2040. Black Girls CODE introduces computer programming and technology to girls ages 7 to 17 by providing workshops, hackathons and after-school programs. Areas of focus include web design, robotics, game development, mobile app development and more. 

“Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. Our industry is committed to expanding opportunities in our sector by working to grow talent and spark interest and excitement for STEAM careers, especially for those from underrepresented groups,” ESA President, CEO and ESA Foundation board chair Stanley Pierre-Louis said. “Since the ESA Foundation’s mission focuses on diversity as a central tenet, it is ideally positioned to lead, develop and manage this industry initiative and bring to life our partnership with Black Girls CODE. Our goal is to attract more girls and young women into software coding and related technology fields. We look forward to celebrating the success stories of these young women as they develop their skills and become technology leaders in the video game industry and beyond.” 

According to ESA’s “2021 Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry,” the video game player community identifies as 45% female and 55% male. Among the community, 73% identified as ethnically white and only 8% identified as Black or African American. The commitment of the ESA and Black Girls CODE introduces an expansion of representation for young women from underrepresented backgrounds to explore the video gaming industry among other technology-related fields early on in their life.  

“The partnership between the ESA Foundation and Black Girls CODE is tailor-made for this moment,” ESA Foundation Executive Director Anastasia Staten said. “We believe our program will have a lasting impact on girls and young women who otherwise might never have considered careers in the video game industry. And the most exciting part for me is that, beyond their generous financial support, some of the world’s leading video game companies and their teams are committed to mentoring young women in ways that will open up opportunities to explore STEAM careers and create entertaining video games that all of us will want to play.” 

The partnership includes direct financial support as well as investments in volunteer time and other industry resources to support curricula, workshops and mentorships. For more information, about the Entertainment Software Association, visit www.theesa.com.