Campus News

Shoulder to Shoulder Global program awarded USAID grant

Photo of UK community members in Ecuador for Shoulder to Shoulder
UK students and faculty in Santo Domingo, Ecuador, for a Shoulder to Shoulder Global program

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 14, 2022) — The University of Kentucky’s Shoulder to Shoulder Global (STSG) program and Department of Pediatrics have been awarded a grant of $421,000 from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand the nonprofit collaborative Centro de Salud Hombro a Hombro health center (CSHH) as an educational and empowerment site in Santo Domingo, Ecuador.

The expansion will build the center’s capacity for providing health services to communities while advancing global learning informed by scholarship and research for the Kentucky health care leaders of tomorrow, creating transformative impacts at home and abroad.

“The grant, ‘Improving Health Care and Diplomacy in Ecuador,’ provides the opportunity to transform the health of communities abroad and at home through education, empowerment and collaborative practice,” said Tom Young, M.D., UK professor of pediatrics and chair of STSG. “The pandemic has taught us that for a robust health care system to thrive, we can no longer work in silos. We need to learn to work in partnerships and respect cultural differences to prepare for the interprofessional health systems of tomorrow.”

As part of the USAID American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) award funds, the grant will allow construction of a new building and durable commodities to house:

  • an onsite medical laboratory;
  • an adult and pediatric rehabilitation center that promotes tolerance, inclusion, diversity and self-reliance;
  • enhanced oral health services;
  • a new primary care ultrasound program;
  • a women's empowerment center that fosters gender equality, leadership, self-reliance and socioeconomic inclusion; 
  • refugee support; and
  • faculty and student exchanges between UK and local universities that facilitate education and academic exchanges in the areas of telemedicine, interprofessional teamwork and global health.

The CSHH is located in a resource-limited community in Santo Domingo, where many families live in poverty. Diverse residents include Afro-Ecuadorians, refugees from Colombia and Venezuela and migrants from other parts of Ecuador. Many families are single-parent families led by women in economic stress. Community assessments have identified significant public health issues including low immunization rates, limited access to prenatal care and family planning, high infectious disease rates, child stunting, increasing mental health and substance abuse issues among adolescents and teen pregnancy.

Due to UK’s long-standing relationship with Ecuador through the Partners of the Americas organization, Young first began taking groups of UK learners to Santo Domingo in 2002, with the community run CSHH opening in 2007.

Building on the previous collaborative community work and reflecting on the interprofessional opportunities offered by the project, Young said, “The expansion of the health center will allow for development of a more fully integrated collaborative care model that will set the example for health care providers and students in both Ecuador and the U.S. My hope is that this unique opportunity to gain experience and serve alongside one another in a built environment of camaraderie and solidarity will provide a life-changing event for students and communities in both countries, that they will take what they’ve learned and experienced, reflect on it and act to make a difference for themselves and in the lives of others.”

UK faculty involved in writing this successful grant include:

  • Thomas Young, Jim and Suzanne Elliot And Family Professor of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine;
  • Melody Ryan, assistant provost of Global Health and professor in the College of Pharmacy;
  • Lindsey Fay, associate professor in the College of Design; and
  • Hartley Feld, chair of Global Health and assistant professor in the College of Nursing.
  • Joe Brewer, director of technology and facilities in the College of Design
  • Abigail Evans, alumna of the College of Design

To learn more about STSG, visit

For information about global health opportunities at the University of Kentucky, visit or contact the Office of Global Health Initiative’s Program Manager Craig Borie at


USAID is the lead U.S. government agency for international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance and help people progress beyond assistance.

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