Gastón Institute at UMass Boston Will Help Latino Communities Navigate Obamacare

Office of Communications | October 09, 2014
Gastón Institute at UMass Boston Will Help Latino Communities Navigate Obamacare

The Mauricio Gastón Institute of Latino Community Development and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston has been awarded a $235,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help minority populations navigate the complexities of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”

The grant funds will be used to identify Latino populations who wish to obtain insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and assist them with enrollment and the purchase of insurance offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Outreach is expected to begin in November.

“Our central program strategy is to work with CRUZA: The Alliance for Latino Health through Faith and Action, to engage churches serving underserved Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking populations,” said Professor María Idalí Torres, director of the Gastón Institute and the principal investigator for the grant. “These churches are trusted venues for providing culturally and linguistically competent education, outreach, and assistance aimed at enrolling individuals in an affordable and appropriate health insurance plan.”

The outreach project targets three geographic areas—Pittsfield and the Berkshires, New Bedford and Fall River in southeastern Massachusetts, and the corridor between Waltham and Lawrence. In each, the CRUZA Partnership will work with a partner health organization to recruit and support churches that serve the target population through Spanish- or Portuguese-language religious services. These churches will be hubs for training, outreach, and enrollment activities, carried out by a paid site coordinator, faith leaders, and volunteers with assistance from 10 UMass Boston students and the leadership of a project coordinator based at the Gaston Institute. 

The Gaston Institute’s outreach in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking communities will help to increase awareness and knowledge about the role of the Affordable Care Act in reducing health disparities in these communities," said Chancellor J. Keith Motley. “It is a perfect embodiment of our commitment to education and public service.”

The project, officially called Todos Juntos (“All Together”), will build the capacity of churches to provide linguistically and culturally appropriate outreach, education, and assistance aimed at increasing health-insurance enrollment for Spanish and Portuguese speakers. As part of its work, the program will train and provide technical assistance to religious lay leaders and volunteers in each of the five church sites per year.

In addition to Torres, the research team includes Professor Jennifer Allen of the Department of Community Health, Tufts University, and Professor Hosffman Ospino of the Boston College School of Theology. The team will conduct a rigorous and in-depth evaluation of the program, looking at process, outcomes and potential for future impact. The evaluation will be the basis for an enhanced report on successful practices, and the report will be available electronically to faith-based community audiences, as well as advocates and public health practitioners and policy makers.

The grant originates from the Office of Minority Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

About the Gastón Institute
The Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy was established in 1989 by the Massachusetts Legislature in response to a need for improved understanding of the Latino experience in the Commonwealth. The mission of the Gastón Institute is to inform policymakers about issues vital to the state’s growing Latino community and to provide information and analysis necessary for effective Latino participation in public policy development. To learn more about the Gastón Institute, visit

About UMass Boston
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve more than 16,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit

About the CRUZA Partnership
CRUZA started as a sub-project of the U54 UMass Boston-Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Research Partnership, funded by the National Cancer Institute. CRUZA is a community-based participatory research partnership aimed at shifting the focus from intervention delivery on an individual level to a focus on enhancing the capacity of community organizations. The partnership intends to activate collective resources to translate scientific evidence into strategies that increase cancer screening among Latinos in Massachusetts.

Tags: gaston institute , health disparities , obamacare

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