Funded Projects

Grant Status: Active

Training Category: MCH LEAP

Grant Title: Maternal and Child Health-Leadership Education, Advocacy, and Research Network (MCH-LEARN)

Project Director(s):

Harolyn Belcher, M.D., M.H.S.
Project Director
Kennedy Krieger Institute
707 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD  21205
Phone: (443) 923-3258


The Maternal and Child Health-Leadership Education, Advocacy, and Research Network (MCH-LEARN) will provide up to 45 undergraduate freshman and sophomore students from historically disadvantaged populations (HDP) and, including underserved (and underrepresented in the maternal and child healthcare field) racial and ethnic populations with a comprehensive integrative MCH learning experience. Program Goal(s): The goals of MCHLEARN are: (1) recruit up to 10 undergraduate freshman and sophomore students per year (for total of up to 45 students) from HDP to participate in MCH-LEARN program; (2) Implement MCH-LEARN Seminars including (a) Achieving Healthy People 2020 Goals: Applying a Life Course and Social Determinants Model, (b) Leadership and Professional Development and guided discussion of KKI LEND seminars; (3) Provide three MCH learning externships (clinical, research, community advocacy) for 10- week Summer Institute; (4) Disseminate MCH information to peers and community; and (5) Increase the number of students from HDPs who enter graduate school in MCH fields.


All of the learning experiences will emphasize cultural competency, health disparities issues, and strategies to promote health equity focused, especially among children and youth with special health care needs. Students will develop and present an MCH topic at the end of the Summer Institute based on Healthy People 2020 Goals. Students will submit an abstract to and be sponsored to attend the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs Annual Conference. Students will complete an Individual Learning Plan and periodic self-assessments to measure their learning, assess their progress and assist in preparedness for graduate school. Each student will receive weekly mentoring during the Summer Institute, monthly mentoring during the subsequent academic year and ongoing contact biannually to support the student's matriculation into graduate school and an MCH career.


MCH-LEARN leverages a leadership learning network formed by (1) Kennedy Krieger Institute Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program, (2) Historically Black Colleges and Universities, (3) Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine Leadership Education in Adolescent Health program and Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Family, Population and Reproductive Health, (4) Parents' Place of Maryland, and the (5) Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities. MCH-LEARN will build on the existing recruitment and training infrastructure created by three Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity-funded public health leadership programs to create a successful science-based practice and MCH-focused mentorship program for undergraduates from HDP.


Evaluation instruments and strategies are specifically selected to collect data to analyze effectiveness of program activities and curriculum designed to address MCHLEARN goals and objectives. Descriptive data collected will include student contact information, student demographics, university of origin, and disadvantaged status. These data will be used to track student's progress and increase the understanding of malleable student characteristics that are related to student success (Goals 1 & 5). Students will be asked to sign in/login for orientation courses and Summer Institute Seminars to monitor attendance and participation in didactics and activities (Goals 2 & 3). Students will complete a questionnaire following each lecture to determine whether class teaching objectives were met. Data will document student activities, student presentations and publications, mentor/preceptor and student evaluations, student self-assessment of MCH core competencies, mentor competency, distance learning attendance, and presentation evaluations (Goals 3 & 4). The Center database includes 12 tables (Orientation Lecture Evaluation, Orientation Quiz Scores, Mentor Demographic Information, Mentor Evaluation of Student Progress, Mentor/Student Publication, Student Demographic Information by Cohort, Student Placement by Cohort, Student Hours by Cohort, Student Publication/Presentation History (All), Student Seminars/Journal Club (by Cohort), and can automatically generate 6 reports (Descriptive Statistics by Cohort, Post Externship Experience by Cohort, Post Externship Experiences by Degree, Mentor/Student Publication by Cohort, Orientation Lecture Evaluations, Orientation Lecture Quizzes). MCH-LEARN administrative staff will expand the Center database to include students in the MCH-LEARN program. These data collection techniques will evaluate the MCHLEARN. Data will be analyzed, summarized, and used to monitor student progress, revise MCH-LEARN educational activities, and determine whether project goals/objectives have been met. Program evaluations of students by their mentors will be employed to monitor and evaluate MCH competencies and public health knowledge and skill development based on the student's learning track. Program administrative staff will contact mentors to informally review student progress mid- Program. At the end of the Program, students will complete an exit interview evaluating their experiences and giving permanent contact information for tracking. Program administrative staff will review exit interviews to determine if MCHLEARN is effective in meeting program objectives. Revisions will be made as necessary to meet goals and objectives. Following the first academic year of the program and yearly thereafter for the duration of the grant, students will be surveyed about their academic progress, jobs, and career goals.