Embracing Diversity to Make a Difference
UnitedHealth Group’s Diverse Scholars Initiative is working to diversify the health care workforce and provide culturally competent care to patients
As a registered nurse, Saleena Lee understands what it means to make a difference in her community. Drawn to nursing after first working as a direct care professional with elderly and disabled patients in her hometown of Minneapolis, Saleena strives to develop close relationships with those she serves and affect people’s lives for the better.
A proud member of the Hmong community in Minnesota, Saleena also understands the significance of diversity and cultural competence in health care and building trust to create a more comfortable care environment for patients and their families. Through participation in UnitedHealth Group’s Diverse Scholars Initiative, she was able to deepen her understanding of the disparities in our health care system, as well as gain perspective into how they impact underserved communities.
The Diverse Scholars Initiative, a United Health Foundation program, helps to create a modern health workforce by increasing the number of diverse primary care health providers ready to deliver personalized, culturally competent care. Through the initiative, scholarships and academic support services are provided to undergraduate, graduate and doctorate-level students of color who demonstrate financial need, pursue a degree that will lead to a career as a primary care health professional and indicate a commitment to working in underserved communities and community health centers.
Since the launch of the Diverse Scholars Initiative in 2007, the United Health Foundation has provided more than $23 million in assistance and funded nearly 3,000 scholarships for diverse undergraduate and graduate students, including 240 scholars from 45 states for the 2019-2020 academic school year.
As part of the program, scholarship recipients from across the country convene annually for the Diverse Scholars Initiative Forum to discuss the nation’s most pressing health issues, network with peers, industry leaders and policy makers, and engage in interactive dialogue to share their own ideas and experiences.
“The Diverse Scholars Initiative has helped me in many more ways than I could imagine. This initiative not only provided financial support, but it also helped with gaining connections and a deeper understanding of the healthcare system in the United States,” Saleena said. “I have met many scholars from across the country that I still keep in touch with to this day, and I have gained insight from the disparities faced in their communities. The Diverse Scholars Initiative has broadened my learning and opened my eyes to new ideas that can better the communities around us.”
The Diverse Scholars Initiative is just one of the many ways UnitedHealth Group combines knowledge and expertise with compassion to support communities. The company is committed to a future where every person has access to high-quality affordable health care that meets their unique needs and financial means, and since 2000 has contributed more than $1 billion to communities nationwide.
Through UnitedHealth Group’s foundations – the United Health Foundation, and the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation – as well as its businesses, the company provides grants and pro bono consulting to local and national organizations, helps families who need medical support and invests in solutions to address social determinants of health, including affordable housing and food security.
UnitedHealth Group is focused on establishing enduring relationships with its philanthropic partners and seeks to become a partner of choice through additional support such as opportunities for its employees to volunteer and provide in-kind support.