Cleveland Foundation announces $5.5 million grant to CSU to support NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health

Largest-ever gift to Partnership supports the education of urban primary health care professionals to eliminate health disparities in core city neighborhoods

RELEASE DATE: 6.25.2015

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Foundation board of directors today authorized a $5.5 million grant to Cleveland State University (CSU) in support of the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED)-CSU Partnership for Urban Health. The Partnership recruits and trains medical students who reflect the socio-economic background and cultural makeup of their communities to address and eliminate health disparities while improving neighborhood-level outcomes.

Today’s announcement, which was unveiled at a community event at the new Center for Innovation in Medical Professions on the CSU campus, is the third Cleveland Foundation grant in support of this strategic collaboration that addresses the current and future health care needs in Greater Cleveland. In 2010, the foundation provided a one-year planning grant of $250,000 to refine the Partnership’s initial plans. Given the results, the foundation approved a three-year start-up grant of $1.5 million in 2011 to operationalize the model. With this latest grant, the foundation has provided, in total, $7.25 million to the Partnership.

“The shortage of primary care physicians who practice in urban areas threatens our most underserved and vulnerable populations, leading to preventable illness and, in some cases, death,” said Cleveland Foundation President and CEO Ronn Richard. “The innovative NEOMED-CSU partnership thoughtfully addresses the primary care challenge as it provides the necessary academic support to students who may not otherwise receive an opportunity to attend and successfully complete medical school. These institutions are creating a new workforce of compassionate caregivers who we hope will dedicate their careers to the health and prosperity of our residents and our community.”

Currently, there are 105 students engaged in the six-year program (67 in the CSU phase and 38 students in the NEOMED phase). Of this cohort, 19 percent reflect underrepresented minorities as compared to a student population of 5 percent when the Partnership began. The Partnership has achieved an 85 percent persistence/retention rate for all students and 83 percent persistence/retention rate for students from underrepresented minority groups. The goal of the Partnership is to graduate 175 medical students in the next five years.

“This is the largest-ever gift in support of the Partnership and we are fortunate to have visionary collaborators in NEOMED and the Cleveland Foundation that have enabled us to collectively address an urgent community and workforce need. Our city’s residents will greatly benefit by having a new generation of diverse primary care providers who have trained in neighborhoods that have been historically underserved. This is a new model for training an interdisciplinary primary care workforce,” said CSU President Ronald M. Berkman.

There are two entry points for students in the program. At the undergraduate level, CSU students are admitted to the joint program at CSU and promoted to NEOMED upon satisfactory completion of promotion requirements. The second entry point is a post-baccalaureate option for students with college degrees in other areas. Each pathway introduces students to urban health issues and the sociological aspects of urban studies.

“We have a great track record with our interprofessional, community-based health professions education. To date, approximately 50 percent of our students return to practice in Northeast Ohio,” said Jay A. Gershen, D.D.S, Ph.D., president of NEOMED. “But the shortage of primary care physicians in our underserved communities is at a critical crossroads. As such, meaningful collaborations with partners such as CSU and the Cleveland Foundation are a must to give hope and empowerment in incentivizing students in their academic and career development, and making a difference in the health status, as well as the economic development, of their communities.”

The Partnership takes place at NEOMED and CSU. The Urban Primary Care Track enables medical students to build upon their understanding of urban issues shaping society and health throughout their six years of basic science and medical courses that include a four-year pairing with Federally Qualified Health Centers and health care system providers based in a medically underserved Cleveland neighborhood. An actively engaged 14-member Community Advisory Board, co-chaired by Dr. Edgar B Jackson, Jr., Executive in Residence at CSU, and former U.S. Representative Louis Stokes, has provided assistance in the program’s start-up phase.

“It is very uplifting for our region’s priorities to be addressed from within through collaboration of several of our most important institutions. This partnership will continue to enhance Cleveland’s reputation for excellence in health care and it will open doors for individuals who want to be part of this next generation of neighborhood-focused physicians,” said Rep. Stokes.


About the Cleveland Foundation

Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $2.2 billion and 2014 grants of $98 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of Greater Clevelanders by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation tackles the community’s priority areas – economic transformation, public-school improvement, youth development, neighborhood revitalization, and arts advancement – and responds to the community’s needs.

For more information on the Cleveland Foundation, visit and follow us on, Twitter @CleveFoundation and Instagram @CleveFoundation.

About the NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health

Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and Cleveland State University (CSU) have established a partnership to address the changing health care needs within urban metropolitan areas. NEOMED and CSU are combining their strengths in urban health, primary care medicine, and inter-professional education to design unique primary care education programs within Northeast Ohio. The NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health includes an Urban Primary Care Initiative, which seeks to connect pre-medical and medical students directly to the types of communities they will serve after completing their residency training. The goal is to train physicians who will eventually practice in these Cleveland communities.