Health Equity Leaders Program

Established in 2022 through the generous support of the Brave of Heart Fund, the NMF Health Equity Leaders Program provides underrepresented in health care, medical, and allied health students with opportunities to explore health equity service, scholarship, leadership, and advocacy.

2024 applications will be part of the Service Learning Program General Application, open June 17 - August 12, 2024 11:59 pm ET

Application FAQs

Research Project

  • What kind of outcomes are expected by the end of the ten-month program?
    • We understand that most research will take more than ten months to complete. You are expected to set your own goals and benchmarks so that you may reach your own metrics of success within the program timeline. Even if you plan to continue your project beyond the program, you are still expected to submit complete project deliverables by the end of the ten months. Please refer to this list of past projects for examples of the different research outcomes conducted by former scholars.
  • What types of research can I do?
    • We do not have any restrictions on the type of research you can conduct. You can refer to this list of past projects for examples of past projects completed by former scholars.

Sites and Project Supervisors

  • Do I need to identify a site and project supervisor before I apply for the scholarship?
    • Both your site and project supervisor should be identified and aware of your proposed project when you submit your application to this program.
  • Is this program virtual or in person?
    • Scholars are welcome to conduct their research through a hybrid model. NMF will have both in-person and virtual programming. Regarding your research, while you are expected to conduct a research project in your community, your safety and that of your community should take priority. Therefore, we understand if certain components of your research must be completed virtually.
  • Does the community organization and project supervisor need to be in the United States?
    • Yes, both need to be in the United States.
  • Does the organization need to be a 501C3?
    • No, the community organization does not need to be a registered nonprofit.
  • Does my project supervisor need to be affiliated with site I choose?
    • It is highly encouraged that your project supervisor be affiliated with your chosen site. 
  • Are private, public, and charter schools eligible?
    • Yes, private, public, and charter K – 12 institutions are eligible as sites for this program.

Eligibility Requirements

  • I’m a 4th year graduating in May. Am I still eligible to participate in this program?
    • Yes, graduating fourth years are eligible to participate in the program. Please keep in mind you will still be expected to meet program requirements post-graduation.
  • Is this program open to dental students?
    • Currently this program is not open to dental students. We are actively recruiting second-, third-, and fourth-year medical students (MD, MD/PhD, DO, DO/PhD), graduate-level physician assistants, and graduate-level nursing students. 
  • I’m a US citizen, doing an international medical program. Am I eligible for this program?
    • Scholars must be enrolled in an US accredited healthcare program. Additionally site and mentors must be located in the United States during the duration of this ten-month program.
  • I am an International Medical Graduate. Am I eligible for this program?
    • Scholars must be currently enrolled in an accredited medical or graduate level nursing or PA school located in the U.S. Scholars must also provide proof of U.S. citizenship or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) approved letter.

Program Goal

The program seeks to develop future health care leaders, who have an interest in primary care, with the knowledge, skills, and competencies to promote health equity for medically underserved communities. Through self-led research projects, scholars work to examine and disrupt the systems and structures of historical racism that lead to health disparities that disproportionately impact BIPOC communities.

Scholar Eligibility 

The program is open to second-, third-, and fourth-year medical (MD and DO - including dual degrees), and graduate level physician assistant and nursing students who come from underrepresented backgrounds and have a demonstrated interest in primary care. Scholar candidates must meet the following additional eligibility:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) approved letter
  • Must be currently enrolled in an accredited medical or graduate-level nursing or PA school located in the U.S.
  • Identification as an underrepresented student in health care 
  • Demonstrated leadership early in career
  • Interest in health care delivery to medically underserved communities with a particular interest in primary care
  • Committment to health equity

NMF designates the following racial/ethnic groups as “underrepresented students of medicine”:

  • African American/Black
  • Hispanic/Latino
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Asian American (Vietnamese and Cambodian only)
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
Medical students smile during meeting in conference room

Program Structure

The 2022-23 Health Equity Leaders Program provides $10,000 to 30 scholars. As part of the program, scholars are required to conduct a self-directed health equity research project over a 10-month period. Scholars identify a community-based organization where they can gain exposure and training in primary care, health equity research, service, leadership, and advocacy. Selected organizations must be community based and have a primary focus of education, advocacy, or providing services and support to vulnerable populations as part of their daily operations.

Approved organizations may include but are not limited to:

  • Community health clinics
  • K -12 public education institutions
  • Universities
  • 501(c)(3) organizations
  • Libraries
  • Food banks

If applicants are unsure their desired partner organization meets the criteria please send questions to

Program Elements

The program runs from November 2022 through September 2023.

Each scholar will be required to complete 200 service-learning hours. Hours include participation in the following:

The program also features opportunities for scholars to connect with each other during Connection Conversations. The conversations are group check-ins and advice-centered sessions focused on scholars’ progress and challenges. Additional program events may be added.

Scholars will select a project supervisor. Project supervisors are expected to provide guidance and support to ensure successful completion of the research project by the end of the program. Guidelines and expectations will be provided to all project supervisors. A stipend will be provided to both the project supervisor ($1500) and the identified site ($3600).

Logo with a blue heart outline and a stethoscope. Blue text reads The Brave of Heart Fund

The Health Equity Leaders Program is made possible by a generous contribution from the Brave of Heart Fund. This fund was established by founding donors at the New York Life and Cigna Foundations, and administered by E4E Relief, to provide charitable grants and emotional support services to families of the frontline healthcare workers, volunteers, and support staff whose lives were lost in the fight against COVID-19. It continues to offer support via partnerships with non-profit organizations aligned with the fund's core purposes.

To learn more, visit