CEnR Seed Grant Program

Community Engagement

Cardiovascular Focus (Cycle 2): Awarded Project

The awarded project supports promising cardiovascular-focused research in the Milwaukee area, demonstrates clear relevance and importance to the communities involved in the project, encourages sustainable, authentic community-academic partnerships, and seeks to advance understanding about how community engagement can be done in complex research settings. The award is a collaborative effort of the MCW Community Engagement Core and the MCW Cardiovascular Center and is funded in part by the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Research and Education Program, a component of the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment at MCW.

Awarded Project

Explore the awarded programs for this seed grant opportunity. The funding period for this award is July 2018-June 2019.

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A Heart Healthy Neighborhood - Reducing Stress Together

Project Title: A Heart Healthy Neighborhood: Reducing Stress Together

Project Start Date: July 1, 2018

Project End Date: June 30, 2019

Award Amount: $50,000

Goal Statement: Our community-academic partnership seeks to support Milwaukee residents in adopting heart healthy behaviors by reducing stress and encouraging the belief that they can make and sustain healthy habits like increasing physical activity and eating better. Chronic exposure to stress contributes to poor cardiovascular health, and residents in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of poverty and disadvantage are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Individuals dealing with chronic stress may be more likely to smoke, eat a poor diet, and not engage in enough physical activity. Racial disparities in cardiovascular disease are particularly acute for African Americans. Their stress burden is compounded by the stress associated with chronic exposure to racial discrimination. Interventions that sustainably lower and manage stress are needed in African American communities. Researchers and community members need to collaborate to identify acceptable, effective interventions that can address stress, improve cardiovascular health, and eliminate disparities. We collaboratively identified the research documented approach of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which uses meditation, non-judgmental awareness, and gentle movement to facilitate stress management. We aim to assess the feasibility of randomized trial using MBSR to assess whether MBSR can promote heart health behaviors by reducing participants’ stress levels and promoting self-efficacy.

Co-Principal Investigators:

  • Kirsten Beyer, PhD (Assistant Professor, Institute for Health and Equity)
  • Melody McCurtis (Site Coordinator and Outreach Specialist, Metcalfe Park Community Bridges)

Additional Partners:

  • Jared Olson, PhD Candidate (Research Assistant II, Department of Family and Community Medicine)
  • Melissa DeNomie, MS (Program Manager I, Department of Family and Community Medicine)