The Baltimore Equitable Vaccination Initiative (BEVI) is a collaboration between the Rockefeller Foundation and Baltimore-based stakeholders, anchored by Open Society Institute-Baltimore (OSI), to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines in Baltimore City.
BEVI is part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Equity-First Vaccination Initiative, which includes related efforts in five cities: Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Newark, NJ; and Oakland, CA.
The goal of the effort, launched in April 2021, is to improve the vaccination rate among communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With Rockefeller’s support, OSI has partnered with the Baltimore City Health Department and a wide range of community-based partners to provide medically sound, culturally competent information about vaccine safety and improve distribution and delivery mechanisms to reach disconnected Baltimoreans through pop-up vaccination sites and mobile clinics across the city.
In addition to on-the-ground and communications support, the Initiative supports resource hubs to assist in addressing access to health care, housing, and other critical health-sustaining needs and advocate for systemic change that will address community infrastructure and social service needs to reduce health disparities.
“The Rockefeller Foundation has been a key ally to Baltimore and OSI from the early days of COVID-19 when it helped to create Baltimore Health Corps, an initiative to recruit, train, and employ more than 300 residents who were jobless due the pandemic as contact tracers,” said Danielle Torain, Director of Open Society Institute-Baltimore. Pew Trusts’ Stateline website cited OSI’s partnership with the Rockefeller and the Health Department as a key part of Baltimore’s COVID response in its story, “How Baltimore Escaped the Worst of COVID-19.”
“Because of existing structural inequalities—including health care access, wealth gaps and systematic racism—people of color have been much more likely to both contract Covid-19 and die from this virus,’ said Otis Rolley, Senior Vice President for the U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation and a former member of OSI-Baltimore’s Advisory Board.
“The Rockefeller Foundation is launching this initiative because a vaccination strategy that does not seek to directly combat inequities stands to further entrench them.”