Community Engagement Initiative

In our continued efforts to better the health of women, in 2012, the Howell Foundation made a commitment to fund research partnerships between academic and community-based organizations. The goal of our Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) is to support these partnerships working collaboratively to develop and evaluate programs designed to improve women’s health. Our priority is to ensure the development of evidenced-informed projects that address relevant issues affecting women’s health within the greater San Diego community, with an emphasis on underserved and “at-risk” women. 

To date, the Howell Foundation has awarded 6 CEI grants totaling $100,000. For more information on each grant awarded please see the information below.

Letter of Intent - March 15, 2019 at 5:00pm
Full application: April 30, 2019 at 5:00pm

Sheila K Mody, MD MPH
Director, Fellowship in Family Planning
Director, Division of Family Planning
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences
University of California, San Diego
Project title: "Partnering with Refugee Women to Inform Culturally Appropriate Patient-Centered Reproductive Healthcare"
This project is a research collaboration between the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at University of California, San Diego (UCSD), the Refugee Health Unit at the UCSD Center for Community Health, and United Women of East Africa Support Team (UWEAST). The purpose of this collaborative project is to explore reproductive health patient-provider interactions and adapt patient-centered reproductive health-counseling tools to be accessible, culturally sensitive, and appropriate for refugee women.

Christina K. Holub, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor
Master of Public Health Program                                                                                       
College of Education, Health and Human Services
California State University San Marcos

Project title: “Increasing Physical Activity through a Culturally Tailored, Community-led Intervention among Pacific Islanders: A Multi-Generational, Family-based Approach"

In an effort to determine how to increase the success of exercise programs for female Pacific Islanders, Dr. Holub will test the following intriguing hypothesis: a woman will comply with and succeed from a specific, culturally-designed exercise program if another family member participates in the program with her.

Mary Barger PhD, MPH, CNM
Associate Professor
Hahn School of Nursing and Bob and Betty Institute for Nursing Research
University of San Diego

Project title: "Reducing Insomnia in Homeless Women with the Mantram Repetition Program"

The fastest-growing segment of the homeless population are women, and families headed by women. The Mantram Repetition Program (MantramRP), a portable meditation-based program, teaches the frequent, silent, intermittent repetition of a self-selected word. The portability of the MantramRP allows women to use the intervention anywhere and anytime. Improving insomnia and physiological and psychological stress symptoms could improve overall health, potentially lowering use of costly care. The ease of teaching the intervention allow for its incorporation into existing homeless program nationally. 

For more information:

H. Irene Su, MD MSCE
Assistant Professor
Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
Department of Reproductive Medicine and Moores Cancer Center
University of California, San Diego

Project title: "Developing a Reproductive Health Intervention for Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors"

Dr. Su's project aims to develop and pilot test a web-based survivorship care plan to improve reproductive health issues such as fertility and pregnancy for adolescent and young adult women who have had cancer. Dr. Su will partner with the community organization, Stupid Cancer and work with patient advocates and other UC San Diego cancer research and clinical faculty to conduct this study.

For more information:

Hala Madanat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Institute of Behavioral and Community Health (IBACH)
SDSU Graduate School of Public Health

Project title: “Intuitive Eating Intervention to Curb Weight Gain in Female College Students” 

Dr. Madanat's project explores weight gain in young women during their first year of college known as the “freshman fifteen”. Her project is being conducted in partnership with the SDSU Student Health Services.

For more information:

Elva Arredondo, PhD.
Associate Professor
Institute of Behavioral and Community Health (IBACH)
SDSU Graduate School of Public Health

Project title: “Promoting Physical Activity and Healthy Eating among Pregnant Latinas: A Demonstration Project”

Dr. Arredondo's project was to pilot test the impact of a physical activity intervention on the physical activity practices of pregnant Latinas. It involved a partnership with the local Women Infant and Children program (WIC).  

For more information: 


  1. Providing grants for women's health research to promising undergraduates
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  2. Sponsoring symposia, learning luncheons and other educational outreach mechanisms concerning women's health and related issues.
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