Innovative 'Prevention Navigator' Grant Supports Student Health and Well-Being

Dr. Dolores Cimini and Dr. Jessica Martin

Albany, NY (September 30, 2021) – M. Dolores Cimini and Jessica L. Martin received $1 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to deliver specialized HIV/STI and substance use prevention services, designed to be relevant and responsive to the cultures and health needs of UAlbany’s BIPOC and LGBTQ+-identified students.

This five-year project, entitled Project ACCESS: Achieving College Completion Through Engaged Support Services, aims to assist UAlbany’s BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students in accessing broader higher education opportunities, staying in and completing college, continuing to progress toward advanced study and entry into the workforce, and experiencing health and enhanced quality of life by mitigating several of the major health disparities that have historically served as barriers to their success.

This funding allows for the hiring of a Prevention Navigator to work with students to develop culturally responsive prevention efforts and provide students with timely access to HIV/STI and substance use prevention services in the community. The Prevention Navigator will be embedded in campus areas where UAlbany’s BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students are located, rather than requiring the students to seek out help.  

Community partners will include Albany Medical Center, the Alliance for Positive Health, and the Damien Center. The team also plans to engage additional state and community agencies as appropriate as the work gets underway.

Dr. Cimini, director of the Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research and senior research scientist in the School of Education, said, “While we submitted this grant application nearly two years ago, we believe that funding comes at a very timely juncture at UAlbany. Our BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students are voicing the need for specialized services across areas that align with this grant, and it is also responsive to the current focus on health disparities by the University at Albany and New York State.”

Dr. Martin, associate professor and counseling psychology division director, added, “We believe that this is the first grant under this funding mechanism that is housed within a higher education institution, uniquely positioning UAlbany to advance innovation aimed to support both health and well-being and diversity, equity, and inclusion.”