In April, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF), located in Pittsburgh, approved two grants that caught our attention.

Genetic Diseases Grant

One is for the development of a community-wide education curriculum that presents the evidence about genes and viruses in a way that is scientifically informative and age-appropriate.

Nina Butler, a seasoned professional educator, and Jonathan Weinkle, a pediatrician and internist at the Squirrel Hill Health Center, which is a federally qualified health center in Pittsburgh, will lead the grant and work with Jewish communal agencies to develop the necessary education curriculum for students, parents, and teachers in the community.

The project will integrate scientific evidence and recommended public health practices, a JHF spokesperson told GrantWatch Blog. The grant is targeted at the Jewish community, specifically at middle school and high school students, and the adult decision makers in their lives. The curriculum aims to help young people understand the real-life implications of scientific discovery in informing lifestyle choices and disease prevention. The spokesperson added that the foundation’s hope is to expand this type of education beyond the Jewish community.

Specifically, the grant will aim to increase the understanding of the scientific basis and individual and societal benefits of screening and prevention options, resulting in informed conversations and action among teens, parents, and primary care providers.

“We’ve [already] made it a Foundation priority to raise awareness of the value of genetic screening and HPV [human papillomavirus] vaccination and to encourage screening and HPV vaccination in the appropriate target groups,” said JHF President and CEO Karen Wolk Feinstein in a press release.

“This grant enables us to enhance the Jewish genetics and HPV work we are already doing in the general community to develop a program designed specifically for Jewish youth and their families,” said Feinstein in the press release. “Dr. Butler and Dr. Weinkle balance clinical and educational expertise with strong grounding in Jewish tradition and knowledge of our community.”

HPV Vaccination Grant

Also in April, the JHF approved a grant for implementation of an outreach campaign about HPV, which can cause cervical and other cancers and genital warts in some people. The campaign will include “public education and other efforts to increase parents’ and of-age teens’ acceptance of the HPV vaccine” as well as efforts to urge health care providers to encourage patients to get vaccinated, according to a press release. (The foundation’s board had previously approved a planning grant in 2013 to develop a plan for an HPV public health campaign.)

The release noted that every day, about 12,000 people, ages 15-24, are infected with HPV. Citing recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the release also said that only 34 percent of adolescent girls receive the recommended three doses of the vaccine, and only 6.8 percent of boys get them.

The JHF is a public charity that, according to its mission statement, works to “advance the quality of clinical care and health of populations, with a focus on improving the quality, efficiency, and safety of health care.”