Manhattan DA's office awards $10.3 million grant to create Youth Opportunity Hub

March 08, 2017

March 7, 2017 -- The Manhattan District Attorney's Criminal Justice Investment Initiative has awarded a grant to Alwyn T. Cohall, MD, co-leader of an interdisciplinary team of investigators and community partners, professor of Sociomedical Sciences and Population and Family Health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and director of the Harlem Health Promotion Center. The 4-year award of $10.3 million through the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center, and the Mailman School of Public Health will be used to create a Youth Opportunity Hub in Northern Manhattan. The Hub grants provide wraparound support and opportunities to youth and young adults in target neighborhoods through well-coordinated partnerships among community-based organizations to reduce involvement in the criminal justice system.

Dr. Cohall, who is also a professor of Pediatrics, was honored, along with his colleagues, at a kick-off event on Monday, February 27th led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

"I am delighted to accept this grant which will help build upon our work on incarceration and public health -- particularly as it relates to prevention -- creating an "urban sanctuary" for high-risk youth to reduce their involvement in the criminal justice system," said Dr. Cohall. "I envision this project as an extraordinary opportunity for student involvement across our campus, and am thrilled that the award represents a concrete example of interdisciplinary collaboration among faculty at NewYork-Presbyterian, New York State Psychiatric Institute, and the Mailman School of Public Health, along with a network of community-based organizations." Dr. Cohall's co-principal investigator on the project is Erica Chin in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Cohall's areas of research include adolescent health; reproductive health; violence; access to healthcare, particularly for young men of color; and health communication/health promotion. A board-certified pediatrician and adolescent medicine physician, Dr. Cohall also serves as the director of Project Stay (Services to Assist Youth), a New York State Department of Health funded program that provides confidential health services to young people affected by or infected with HIV/AIDS. He is also the medical director of the New York STD Prevention Training Center, one of eight centers funded by the Centers for Disease Control to enhance the skills of health providers in managing patients with sexually transmitted infections. Additionally, he is co-director, along with his wife Renee Cohall LCSW, of BeWell, a unique health and wellness initiative supporting young people involved in BridgeUP - an academic enrichment program housed in five New York Public Library sites.

"We are truly grateful to the Manhattan District's Attorney's Office to be selected for this generous grant," said Lisa Metsch, PhD, chair and Stephen Smith Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health. "This investment will go a long way in helping us expand our efforts in support of at-risk youth and their families in the underserved neighborhoods where the Mailman School of Public Health is located. Through Dr. Alwyn Cohall's leadership, we will continue to serve and further our programs for local teens, young adults, and their families and succeed in achieving healthier communities for all."
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Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

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