2023 Lead Poisoning Prevention Mini-Grants: Increasing Rural Community Capacity for Lead Poisoning Prevention


The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH), in collaboration with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and PHI Center for Health Leadership and Impact (CHLI), a program of Public Health Institute (PHI), is providing support to organizations located in or serving communities in rural areas and U.S. territories to build capacity and advance evidence-based efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning. This effort is supported through cooperative agreements with CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health (cooperative agreement numbers NEU38OT000290-05-01 and NU38OT000313-05-02).

Recognizing the significant, inequitable, and costly impact of childhood lead poisoning, many communities are taking action to address the issue through the removal of lead hazards from homes, especially before children are exposed, and through policy and systems change. The health and economic burdens of lead exposure are considerable, especially for disproportionately impacted low-income communities and communities of color and where there are persistent racial and economic disparities. Reducing childhood lead exposure means improving children’s health, reducing health disparities, and reducing strain on healthcare, educational, criminal justice, and other systems.
Five organizations were selected to receive a technical assistance package consisting of a $50,000 mini-grant and up to six months of technical assistance. Two additional organizations were selected to receive a semifinalist award consisting of a $25,000 mini-grant and up to six months of optional technical assistance. The purpose of these grants is to identify, spread, and grow successful policies and systems, support new communities to take action, and encourage communities to move up the ladder of engagement, working to achieve cross-sector partnerships and put sustainable, systems-level policies and programs in place.


American Samoa Department of Health, Pago Pago, American Samoa
The American Samoa Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health of their people and communities. The American Samoa Department of Health strives to achieve this by promoting healthy lifestyles, conducting health awareness outreach, researching to strengthen public health knowledge, and detecting, preventing, and responding to infectious diseases. This project aims to pioneer lead testing initiatives in the territory, addressing a critical need that has long been overlooked. The project goal is to create lasting positive impacts on the health and well-being of American Samoa’s residents while establishing sustainable systems for lead testing and prevention and setting a precedent for proactive and sustainable approaches to public health challenges in the territory.

City-Cowley County Health Department, Winfield, Kansas
The City-Cowley County Health Department is committed to preventing diseases, promoting healthy lifestyles, and protecting the environment for residents and visitors. As the region’s primary agency responsible for lead screening, the City-Cowley County Health Department will utilize mini-grant funding to enhance its internal capacity to support increased screening, education, and investigative efforts to meet the community’s emerging needs. Successful implementation of this initiative will lead to the compilation of a comprehensive dataset about the prevalence of lead poisoning in infants and children in the area. The goal is to provide the Cowley County public health officer with the necessary data to approach local policymakers with a “Health in All Policies” perspective to advocate for establishing lead-safe minimum standards for local rental housing.

Healthy Bourbon County Action Team, Fort Scott, Kansas
Healthy Bourbon County Action Team (HBCAT) is a key partner in the Communities Organizing to Promote Equity (COPE) project, a community-academic partnership. COPE was born from the 2020 COVID pandemic that inflamed the health disparities across many communities in Kansas. COPE is led by faculty at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and its goal is to engage with communities as health experts to address equity issues. COPE invests in 20 communities across Kansas to improve health equity through community engagement, trust-building, open communication, shared decision-making, resource-sharing, mutual benefit, and bidirectional learning.

Following lead poisoning prevention goals, HBCAT’s goals include capacity building around this issue and improved collaboration for long-term and sustained systems-level and policy changes. This funding will support lead policy mapping and the development of a policy toolkit to support stronger lead policies in southeast Kansas. More specifically, the activities will include mapping regulations, local ordinances, and state laws related to lead poisoning prevention and the development and dissemination of a Lead Poisoning Prevention Policy Toolkit at town halls in the region. This work lays the groundwork for a long-term goal of supporting Kansas in revising and adopting lead poisoning prevention policies and lead exposure remediation practices. HBCAT will use the ladder of engagement to guide efforts through development stages to help achieve desired outcomes to reach long-term goals and pave the way for meaningful policy change.

Mississippi Communities United for Prosperity, Duck Hill, Mississippi
Mississippi Communities United for Prosperity (MCUP) is a community-based organization (CBO) that serves economically challenged rural areas in predominantly African American Delta and Central Mississippi. The main goals of the proposed project are to (1) increase capacity of the Mississippi Zero Lead and Healthy Housing Coalition (ZL&HH) and acquire funding to fully implement the model; (2) develop and implement a “Get the Lead Out” (GTLO) marketing campaign and convene GTLO community awareness forums in target communities; (3) expand partnership with the Mississippi Department of Health Lead and Healthy Homes Program to encourage a stronger focus on reducing lead exposures through social determinants of health prevention and intervention measures; (4) increase screening of children in head start, early head start, and pregnant mothers; (5) raise awareness for the need for public policies and funding to support lead abatement programs at the county level and inclusion of healthy housing in housing policies; (6) educate traditional financial institutions (TFIs) on the harms of lead and include healthy housing as part of their Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) strategic plans in their designated low to moderate income assessment areas; and (7) increase the number of skilled workers and contractors in the lead and healthy housing field.

Young, Gifted & Green, Memphis, Tennessee
Founded in 2016, Young, Gifted & Green works to empower disadvantaged communities to advocate against the crisis of lead exposure and promote environmental justice and equity through community education, leadership development, and civic engagement. With this award, Young, Gifted, and Green and its partners in Rural West Tennessee will establish the first “Lead Free Tennessee Bill of Rights.” The Lead Free Tennessee Bill of Rights will establish community-driven accountability for decision-makers at the local and state levels to “Get the Lead Out.” The organization will also provide technical support to frontline communities by increasing homes tested for lead paint and referrals for water testing. These efforts will also include testing and remediation support for childcare facilities, including home-based daycares. With the support of this award, the long-term goal is for this project to serve as a model for other rural communities facing similar challenges with lead exposure.


The Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, Cleveland, Ohio
The Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition (NEOBHC) has a long history of working to educate, advocate for, and empower the community. NEOBHC’s work focusing on lead poisoning has been transformational. This mini-grant will allow NEOBHC the funds to purchase an XRF machine. This machine will allow NEOBHC to have one of the tools needed to help change the lives of communities that are dealing with the ravaging effects of lead by providing the ability to test soil samples. Elevated concentrations of lead can cause human health problems. Gardening or playing where soil is contaminated with lead can result in toxicity in humans. Lead can be transferred from the soil when inhaled as soil dust or when directly ingested. Children exposed to lead may have more health, learning, and behavior problems. Adult exposure to lead may result in high blood pressure, kidney damage, and fertility problems. This grant gives communities that are struggling with lead a fighting chance.

Thoughts Before Actions, St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana
Thoughts Before Actions (TBA) and its educational partners work collaboratively to impact, inspire, and enhance the lives of all youth and young adults within the River Parishes. Data has linked many of the issues that a large portion of our scholars struggle with to lead exposure. A key element of this project is to utilize middle and high schools to identify lead sources and develop a community action plan to reduce exposure. Under this project, TBA hopes to drive equitable and inclusive public policies and investments in workforce training into rural communities by working collaboratively with students, residents, elected officials, and key stakeholders to build support for educating students about lead and its impact on health, empowering communities to take control of their health, strengthening local building codes based on healthy homes guidance, and working with training providers to establish lead remediation training and credentials.


Latest page update: April 3, 2024.