Office of Public Health Practice and Outreach

The School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) created the Office for Public Health Practice and Outreach (OPHPO) almost two decades ago, to actively build and sustain its ongoing commitment to campus and community partnerships that advance the community’s health, students’ education, and faculty research and service efforts. Public health in the 21st century needs these ongoing ties between the academic and practice worlds, and OPHPO acts as a liaison between SPHHS and the region.

OPHPO matches needs and opportunities in the community with student, staff and faculty interests, expertise and resources. OPHPO's outreach work strives to address current public health and health practice issues by working with public health professionals to eliminate health disparities and apply participatory action research principles to community research endeavors. The disciplines of public health and the health sciences are in the midst of rapid change, and active linkages with the larger community are crucial for the preparation of public health and health care professionals qualified to work in this new environment.

OPHPO promotes active engagement of students and faculty with the surrounding communities, making a special and long-term effort with the urban communities of Holyoke and Springfield, as well as the rural communities in western Massachusetts. The OPHPO provides the necessary coordination to ensure that the School develops and supports effective linkages both within and beyond the university. As part of this effort OPHPO coordinates:

  • Springfield/Holyoke Health Alliance for Research and Engagement (SHHARE) which brings together faculty and community health leaders to address ongoing health issues via forums, grant-writing and partner-ship-building. SHHARE emphasizes the use of community-based participatory research (CBPR) whenever appropriate.
  • Workforce Development Internship Program of the Western Massachusetts Public Health Training Center (WMPHTC). This program develops and strengthens the future public health workforce by providing hands-on training specific to professional development and cultural humility.  In 2012, over 60 UMass students completed internships, logging over 5000 hours at community agencies working to prevent and manage chronic disease.
  • School-wide Internship Database of available internships in the fields of Kinesiology, Nutrition, Communication Disorders and Public Health.
  • Programming for interns and preceptors including recognition events, educational trainings, and career/internship fairs.
  • Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Workgroup: This workgroup is identifying and applying for grants that will foster CBPR processes.

For more information on our Outreach activities, please contact Risa Silverman,, 413-545-2529.