Comunidades Unidas, Cambia Health Foundation longtime partner, receives national recognition

Celebrating our ongoing partnership with Comunidades Unidas during Latinx Heritage Month and year-round

By Susie Garcia
Comunidades Unidas, Cambia Health Foundation longtime partner, receives national recognition
Comunidades Unidas (CU) was named the 2023 UnidosUS Affiliate of the Year, the highest honor bestowed on a UnidosUS Affiliate. It recognizes exemplary work in service to the community, as well as collaboration with UnidosUS and its affiliate network. UnidosUS is the nation’s largest Latinx civil rights and advocacy organization and has an affiliate network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico.

Reflecting on the honor, Executive Director Mayra Cedano shared, “I am very proud of the work we have done collectively and how much we've grown as an organization. We have a bold vision and we’re serving more people than ever. We couldn’t do this work without our incredible team who leads with love and courage.”

Founded in 1999, CU is an immigrant-led and women-led organization that connects Utah's Latinx immigrant community to social service programs that help them thrive and prosper. 

Cambia Health Foundation has partnered with CU since 2015, funding several impactful projects over the years.

The Foundation and CU have developed a meaningful partnership. “We are honored to be connected with Cambia Health Foundation. They care about our community, what we are working on and what our needs are. They meet us where we are and it makes a huge difference,” said Cedano.

Community Health Workers

CU has always championed the value of traditional health workers as a part of integrated care teams. In 2016, the Foundation with CU to pilot the “Community to Clinic to Care” program. The program was designed to meet the needs of Utah’s Latinx community through culturally competent support and by increasing access to care.

Trained Community Health Workers (or Promotoras de Salud) were integrated into local clinics alongside medical providers to help patients receive services that prioritize their experience and optimize their health and well-being. The project also expanded the use of telehealth technology to give people the opportunity to receive health care remotely when and where it is needed. This is especially beneficial for people living in rural areas, where access to care can be more difficult.

Robust pandemic response

When the pandemic hit, CU acted quickly to meet the community's new needs, and the Foundation was proud to support these efforts. Specifically, CU:
  • Translated important Department of Health documents into Spanish 
  • Educated people through community conversations, including virtual ones via Zoom, text, and WhatsApp
  • Hosted testing events early in the pandemic
  • Organized the region's first on-site vaccination event
CU's proactive leadership in the pandemic response was recognized both locally and nationally. CU was among the first community partners to be invited to join Utah's official COVID-19 task force. The White House also recognized their strong COVID response, and in May 2021, Dr. Jill Biden visited CU's vaccination event to show her support and learn more about the nonprofit's services (pictured below).

Four Communities investments

CU was also selected as a recipient of gifts from the Foundation’s regional health plans as a part of their efforts to increase health equity among its member population. The health plans evaluated member data across its four-state footprint and identified one community in each state that could benefit from additional resources to advance health equity. In Utah, the Four Communities funding were focused in West Valley City. 

CU used the funds to support its Family Emergency Fund and the Farmers' Market and Food Distribution programs. The Family Emergency Fund gives financial support to families facing hardships like unemployment, loss of income, homelessness or evictions. 

The Farmers’ Market and Food Distribution programs provide direct services for families to access healthy and culturally competent food, much of which is grown in West Valley. In 2022, the Foundation gave an additional gift to allow CU to continue the great work started as a part of the Four Communities investments.

Cedano credits the success of CU to the team saying, “We are a part of the communities we serve. Our work is a collective effort led by women of color and working-class people. Our incredible team does this brave work with love and justice.”