SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara-based Direct Relief will be sharing some of the spotlight Sunday night during the NBA All-Star Game.
This year's All-Star events in Atlanta are expected to raise at least $3 million to support historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), as well as Direct Relief's "Fund for Health Equity."
Direct Relief recently established the fund in the wake of last year's resurgence of social justice protests and movements for change.
“I mean, COVID is showing the pressures and [health] disparities that exist,” Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe said Friday. “The idea for the ‘Fund for Health Equity’ is that as we get through this, if we revert back to the way it was, that’s not good enough."
The fund will help clinics, organizations and educational institutions that support communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19, usually communities of color.
“Everything we’ve done for decades has really been to allow people who don’t have the opportunity, to obtain health services they need but can’t afford,” Tighe said.
The goal is to help close chronic, racial health gaps not only during the pandemic, but also after it ends.
“The COVID funds we have are to put out the fire,” Tighe said. “And the health equity funds are to change the circumstances as much as we can, with people who know how to do it.”
An esteemed advisory council with extensive experience in addressing health equity will steer the fund:
- Co-Chair Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA, 18th U.S. Surgeon General of the United States, Founder BayouClinic, Inc.
- Co-Chair Byron Scott, MD, MBA, Board Director of Direct Relief and Chair of its Medical Advisory Council
- Martha Dawson, DNP, MSN, RN, FACHE, President and CEO President of the National Black Nurses Association, Associate Professor the University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Jane Delgado, PhD, MS, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health
- Gail Small, JD, Head Chief Woman, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe
The NBA and Direct Relief have partnered to raise money during emergencies before, but never like this. Each made "Moneyball" shot during the 3-Point Contest on Sunday will yield a $3,500 donation for the Health Equity Fund, while each shot in the "Mtn Dew Zone" will yield a $5,000 donation.
“We want to make [the NBA] proud, as we do anyone who participates and is part of Direct Relief… but we do want a lot three pointers to be sunk,” Tighe said with a laugh.
The Health Equity Fund has already raised more than $75 million dollars from private donors, including philanthropist Mackenzie Scott. The goal is to raise $150 million.
Now the fund is getting international attention through the NBA, along with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), UNCF (United Negro College Fund), and National Association for Equal Opportunity (NAFEO).