News Release
Posted by The MolinaCares Accord

Ten University of Michigan Student Proposals Selected for Michigan Health Equity Challenge

Ben Jackey,, (502) 377-9484


ANN ARBOR, Mich., Jan. 12, 2024 – The University of Michigan School of Public Health has named 14 student finalists in the Michigan Health Equity Challenge. The initiative, funded by a $100,000 grant from The MolinaCares Accord(“MolinaCares”) and Molina Healthcare of Michigan, provides students with resources and support in the development of innovative solutions to Michigan’s pressing health equity concerns.

In 2021, MolinaCares brought to life the first cohort of the Health Equity Challenge with UCLA to inspire students to partner with local organizations and develop new approaches to persisting local health disparities. The University of Michigan is MolinaCares’ second collegiate partner for this initiative.

The 14 finalists and their 10 their proposals include: 

  • Wolfgang Bahr and Irving Suarez – a program for Latin American immigrants in Michigan to address heart disease through stress management and community health leadership initiatives.
  • Mehak Bhansali – comprehensive intimate partner violence (IPV) resource toolkit delivered as a mobile application that will be divided into five IPV-centric resource pillars: law, finance, food and clothing, children, and mental health.
  • Natalie DeLiso and Brooke Troxmondo – a geospatial analysis of health, social, and environmental indicators which will identify opportunities to implement a series of housing design strategies aimed at improving health outcomes. 
  • Eunji Ko – bridging communication gaps between dental non-profit organizations, schools, and parents through community-level engagement and educational presentations at school events promoting behavioral changes. 
  • Xinyu Liang – community-based program that leverages audio-only telehealth and family support to eliminate barriers to mental health services for students such as stigma, shame, or fear of disclosure to parents. 
  • Olivia Morris – a program to help Black senior citizens access the care available to them in their health plans; interventions include providing tailored information on health coverage, particularly for those dual eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Damilola Olukorede – development and deployment of a mobile application in tandem with focused public health awareness efforts to help to promote the active participation and retention of Black individuals in cancer clinical trials.
  • Sarah Shimizu and L Tantay – improve access to mental health for LGBTQIA+ and people of color through capacity building training and direct mental health funding.
  • Sarah Small and Alexandra Soos – conducting assessments and interviewing unhoused and unsheltered individuals, connecting them with local organizations to maximize utilization of services, and providing supplies necessary for survival.
  • Melissa Zochowski – develop and implement sensory-friendly, neurodiversity-affirming reproductive health care delivery practices for populations at an increased risk for unplanned pregnancy or lacking prenatal care.  

With the MolinaCares funding, The Griffith Leadership Center of the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health will commit staff to creating the challenge framework, including developing materials, hosting student orientation, and performing regular check-ins with participants. The student finalists will now have the opportunity to further develop their proposals over a 10-week period, identifying a local community-based organization (CBO) to partner with to implement the intervention. Students will receive a stipend and mentor services throughout the project. Final projects will be due in March 2024, followed by an independent committee review. The two CBO partner awardees will receive additional funding from MolinaCares to implement the winning projects. 

About The MolinaCares Accord  

Established by Molina Healthcare, Inc., The MolinaCares Accord oversees a community investment platform created to improve the health and well-being of disadvantaged populations by funding meaningful, measurable, and innovative programs and solutions that improve health, life, and living in local communities. The MolinaCares Accord funds such measures through The Molina Healthcare Charitable Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3) established in 2020 by Molina Healthcare, Inc.

About Molina Healthcare of Michigan 

Molina Healthcare of Michigan has been providing government-funded health care since 1997. The Company serves members through Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare-Medicaid (Duals), and Health Insurance Exchange programs throughout Michigan. Through its locally operated health plans, Molina Healthcare, Inc., a FORTUNE 500 company, provides managed healthcare services under the Medicaid and Medicare programs and through the state insurance marketplaces. Molina Healthcare served approximately 5.2 million members as of September 30, 2023, located across 19 states. For more information about Molina Healthcare of Michigan, visit

About University of Michigan School of Public Health 

Since 1941, the University of Michigan School of Public Health has been pursuing a healthier, more equitable world through education, research and action. Ranked among the top schools of public health in the country, Michigan Public Health trains more than 1,300 graduate and undergraduate students each year. With more than 190 faculty and researchers across six academic departments and numerous collaborative centers and institutes, the school produces impactful research aimed at finding lasting solutions to pressing public health challenges. Compassion, innovation and inclusion drive Michigan Public Health faculty, staff, students and more than 18,000 alumni worldwide to pursue positive change and make a lasting impact on the health of the world. Learn more at or follow us on social media at @umichsph.