Awardee: Fortunate Chifamba
Program: MPH in Global Health
Project Title: Developing a Blueprint for Children’s Health and Well-being in Mississippi
Organization: Children’s Foundation of Mississippi (Jackson, Mississippi)
The Children’s Foundation of Mississippi (CFM) is a new, independent operating foundation focused upon improving the policies and systems that affect the well-being of children in Mississippi. The CFM is serving as a convener, facilitator, advocate and catalyst for positive change in the state. The goal of this project was to help the CFM develop a blueprint to advance children’s health and well-being throughout the state, to be used as a strategic guide for the CFM’s activities. This blueprint would not only articulate the top challenges faced by children in the state for an audience of state agencies, nonprofits, and private sector partners, but also the priority areas where the CFM could maximize their impact on children’s health, education, and well-being outcomes (e.g. the most feasible interventions where the Foundation had expertise). This statewide, multisectoral plan would fill a major gap in the state: Mississippi has no overarching strategic plan to align actors in addressing the challenges that children face. Finally, the project was intended to draw primarily from Mississippians’ expertise and lived experience. Following the analysis of Mississippians’ concerns and recommendations, we then researched best practices from other geographies to adapt for Mississippi.
Most rewarding part of the field experience
The most rewarding experience for me was being able to speak to different agency heads across Mississippi when we conducted the stakeholder interviews for the development of the Blueprint. Many of these interviews helped me gain some first hand information about the state as a whole, and even though the project was conducted virtually, I got to experience a slice of Mississippi through the many stories and lessons they shared with me.
Advice for students doing work in the field
Always keep your expectations very open. Conducting work out in the field does not always happen in a sequential manner and will sometimes require taking time to pause, reflect, see who is missing or isn’t represented in the room, and sometimes starting all over again. In these moments, pay close attention because this is where many valuable lessons emerge.
I’d like to thank the Children’s Foundation of Mississippi for this opportunity to work in partnership with them, Dr. Southward and Therese Hannah for their mentorship and guidance throughout the project. I have learnt so much from this work and Dr. Southward’s support in my professional development has extended beyond this project. I’d like to thank Penny Sun for being an amazing, hard working and very supportive partner in this journey. And finally, I’d like to thank Bill Bean for his support as my Independent Studies advisor. I’ll forever cherish his encouraging words and his advice as I conducted my work for this project.