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University of Dayton launches Health Equity Fellows, think tank with $1M+ in gifts

The University of Dayton will launch a new Health Equity Fellows program to provide paid internships, mentoring and professional development to underrepresented students from the Dayton region.

A three-year commitment from the Scarlet Feather Fund will provide significant support for the program’s first class of fellows.

Additionally, the University’s new Health Equity Activation Think Tank will work with community partners, initially to address Black infant and mother mortality in Montgomery County, through a three-year grant from the CareSource Foundation.

The two gifts together commit more than $1 million to health equity.

“Health equity means that everyone — no matter their income, race, gender, education, location, etc. — can achieve their full health potential,” said Nancy McHugh, executive director of the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, which houses the new initiatives. “It requires systemic change to address the social, political, racial and economic reasons that some people are disadvantaged when it comes to their health. The fellows program and think tank will prepare a workforce committed to these issues and implement evidence-based solutions to some of our area’s most pressing health inequities.” 

Fellows, during their three-year program, will engage in two yearlong paid internships; mentoring with Dayton Children’s Hospital and the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine; specialized education focused on health policy, social determinants of health, medical ethics, etc.; and opportunities for stipends to cover travel and expenses, such as medical or graduate school applications and interviews. 

“When they launch their careers, we hope they’ll return to Dayton because that’s where their most meaningful opportunities have been,” McHugh said.

Fellows also will engage with the health equity think tank, which includes partner organizations such as Dayton Children’s, Boonshoft, Miami Valley Child Development and Omega CDC. The think tank will address a variety of health inequities, focusing on community-driven partnerships to drive solutions. 

“These initiatives move forward the mission of the Fitz Center and what it means to be a university for the common good and an anchor institution,” McHugh said.

The University is seeking additional funds for continued support of the initiatives. Contact Jen Foster for more information at

Students can apply online now for the Health Equity Fellows program, which will launch in fall 2023. 


News and Communications Staff