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Louis Graham (FRS '16-17) Receives $2.3 Million NIH Grant with Springfield Men of Color Program

Louis Graham

A new collaboration between School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) researchers and the Springfield Public Health Department’s well established Men of Color Health Awareness (MOCHA) program is supported by a recent five-year, $2.3 million grant for community-based participatory research to SPHHS from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Current Family Research Scholar Louis Graham will serve as lead investigator. The collaboration will aim to enhance MOCHA’s already successful support of African-American men’s health and skills for coping with stress, as well as collect data on MOCHA’s methods that might help the project to become a national model.

Graham says that for several years MOCHA has offered African-American men ages 35 to 65 in the Springfield area a 12-week program of social networking broadly focused on supporting health and exploring different aspects of black masculinities. Among other things, it includes members sharing stories of how they cope with life stresses such as housing, employment and relationships. MOCHA members, Graham and colleagues believe this storytelling approach might offer other groups around the nation a model for successful peer support. They collaboratively built a multi-year series of studies to define, enhance and test variations of the program.

Graham says, “Our preliminary evaluation shows that while this natural storytelling may not have been an intentional part of the MOCHA program, it has certainly contributed to MOCHA’s success. One of the things we’ll explore over the next few years is specifically why and how well it works, and if we add digital and other storytelling components as a core part of a new approach, whether it could enhance positive outcomes for participants.” 

Learn more in Inside UMass.