Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars

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Known informally at the BJ scholars, this summer fellowship is sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The program brings talented African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander college seniors and recent graduates to Washington, D.C., where they are placed in congressional offices and learn about health policy. Through the nine-week program, scholars gain knowledge about federal legislative procedure and health policy issues, while further developing their critical thinking and leadership skills. In addition to gaining experience in a congressional office, Scholars participate in seminars and site visits to augment their knowledge of health care issues, and write and present a health policy research memo.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation established the Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program at Howard University to honor the legacy of former Foundation Trustee and Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and to expand the pool of students of color interested in the field of health policy. As a member of the United States Congress and the Texas State Legislature, Barbara Jordan's distinguished career was exemplified by her tireless advocacy of behalf of vulnerable populations. She brought this passion to her work, inspiring others to become involved in addressing challenging health policy issues.

Program details[edit]

Scholars receive approximately $7,500 in support, which includes:

  • A stipend of $2,000 upon completion of the program
  • A daily expense allowance for meals and local transportation
  • Transportation/airfare to and from Washington, D.C.
  • Lodging at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

In the event that a college or university will award credit(s) for participation in the program, Howard University will submit or facilitate the submission of all official documentation necessary to obtain such credit(s).

Core activities[edit]

The nine-week program starts with a week-long series of briefings on U.S. health policy issues in Washington, D.C. During the week, scholars meet with a wide range of health policy experts and hill staffers. Topics include health policy concerns such as HIV/AIDS, Medicaid, the uninsured, and Medicare. The group meets again in early June for a day of joint briefings on health issues with another program the Kaiser Foundation operates, the Kaiser Media Interns in Health Reporting. The scholars then spend eight-weeks working in a congressional office with major health policy responsibilities.

In addition to their placement in a congressional office, scholars are required to attend weekly site visits to organizations such as the Institute of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, etc. Scholars are also required to complete a policy memo and a group policy presentation as part of program. In the past, students have written policy memos about: The cost of prescription drugs, HIV/AIDS prevention, the uninsured, and racial/ethnic disparities in health care.

The goal of the Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program is to facilitate the development of leadership and critical thinking skills in health policy by helping students to gain knowledge about the federal legislative process as it relates specifically to health and the health of underserved communities.

Other activities[edit]

Scholars are encouraged to take part in activities on Capitol Hill and to explore the DC metropolitan area. The scholars DC experience is enhanced by other activities such as a guided tour of the National Museum of the American Indian, dinner with local National Advisory Committee members, and interactions with Foundation staff during preparation of their memo and group presentation. Some weekend activities are also planned, but not required.

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