At UCB, we believe that it is our responsibility, not just to create value for patients living with severe diseases, but also to play our part in creating healthier, stronger and more resilient communities overall. That is why we launched the UCB Community Health Fund , to address health disparities amongst vulnerable populations.
The Fund, initiated by UCB and managed by the King Baudouin Foundation , was started in July 2020 with the initial goal of understanding and reducing the medium- and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of society’s most vulnerable members. This includes racial and ethnic minorities, children, older people, the less well-off, the uninsured or under-insured, and those with medical conditions outside UCB’s usual focus. Such populations often have health conditions that are exacerbated by inadequate access to healthcare resources.
Through the Fund, we aim to help local organizations and projects active in supporting these populations, while also addressing the underlying causes of such disparities and tackling issues that we cannot address through our core business. To this end, the Fund will provide grants to organizations active in two areas:
Support: designing, implementing, and evaluating impact-driven projects and initiatives to improve the health of vulnerable groups.
Research: pursuing social science and/or medical research outside of UCB’s traditional therapeutic areas, focusing on the impact of emergencies such as the COVID-19 crisis on the health and wellbeing of vulnerable groups.
The Fund was launched with an initial € 3 million donation from UCB. As of October 2020, the Fund had over € 4 million available to fund projects in relevant areas. You can learn more about the specific funding and selection criteria here .
The UCB Community Health Fund closed its first call for projects end of September 2020. A total of 170 applications for support projects and 43 applications for research projects were received from several countries where UCB operates.
The management committee of the Fund (managed by the King Baudouin Foundation) appointed independent selection committees with a broad geographical representation to assist in the selection of projects and award of funding. In total 44 support projects and 6 research projects were awarded an amount of € 2 440 000.
The projects selected for support address a range of challenges faced by young people, from issues such as mental health or homelessness, to specific support for subgroups such as young refugees, young people with disabilities, or youth who have experienced domestic violence, abuse or exploitation. Two of the Fund’s grantees are TADA (Belgium) and Durham Public Schools (U.S.):
Supporting vulnerable teenagers with TADA
TADA (short for ToekomstATELIERdelAvenir) is a network that engages citizens, civil society and businesses in Brussels, Belgium, to help the city’s most socially vulnerable teenagers to develop their academic, professional and personal skills.
TADA current supports more than 1 300 teenagers in Brussels, providing access to weekend workshops and hands-on sessions with professionals from a range of sectors and industries, which encourage young people to explore their own abilities and interests. TADA’s end goal is to bridge educational inequality, reduce school drop-out rates among socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, and support young people into further education, training or work.
Young people from vulnerable or disadvantaged backgrounds have been particularly burdened by COVID-19. Many such teenagers lack the resources or tools to learn effectively from home during school closures, while being confined to their homes has taken a toll on their mental and psychosocial wellbeing.
The UCB Community Health Fund grant will specifically go towards supporting TADA’s alumni network – ‘TADA For Life’. This is aimed at maintaining connections with young people aged 14 to 20, who have completed three years of coaching with TADA and who want to become role models for future generations and for their wider communities. A dedicated Alumni Team is available to support this group, with ongoing coaching and advice, especially in regards to job applications or academic guidance.
“UCB's office in Brussels is located a stone's throw from one of our weekend schools, which really makes it a local partnership. With UCB's support, we can coach hundreds of young people and fight against learning inequalities.”
Accelerating digital equity in Durham Public Schools
Accelerating digital equity is a community-wide effort in Durham, North Carolina (U.S.). The Durham Public Schools Foundation (DPSF) is an independent non-profit organization working to create an ecosystem that fosters true digital equity for the city’s 33 000 public school students. The goal is to attract the jobs of the future to Durham and prepare the city’s students for those jobs.
COVID-19 school closures have highlighted and exacerbated long-standing inequities in education and access to digital and remote instruction, especially for Black and Latinx students, English language learners, students with learning differences, and low-income students. The ‘Accelerating Digital Equity’ initiative seeks to make an immediate and long-term impact on the community by accelerating the shift to a new learning environment and creating conditions for every student to succeed.
UCB Community Health Fund’s support is being used across critical areas of the initiative, including the creation and maintenance of supervised, supportive academic environments for students who need a safe place for remote learning, IT support and resources, ongoing student equipment needs for devices and connectivity, and teacher training focused on digital learning and remote instruction. This will help prevent further learning loss and higher drop-out rates and is a key component for ensuring the city’s equitable recovery from the COVID crisis.
“We’ve seen the many different ways this pandemic has exposed and exacerbated long-existing inequities and we’re so grateful for UCB’s partnership in this critical moment. This community investment accelerates the shift to a new learning environment for students, families, and educators and is part of ensuring an equitable recovery for everyone in Durham.”
A second call for projects is planned in 2021. As part of our commitment to be clear and transparent about the UCB Community Health Fund’s efforts, we will be communicating regularly on the impact and reach of the Fund’s philanthropy. We also recognize that local needs are likely to evolve over time and will differ from place to place, and will adapt where necessary our fundraising and funding approach to ensure maximum impact for the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people.
How to support us
If you would like to contribute to the work of the UCB Community Health Fund, online donations are currently possible for Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Switzerland and the U.S.
For other countries and for other payment methods for all countries, please refer to the UCB Community Health Fund page. Bank transfer is also possible and advised for higher donations.