Director Julie Smithwick couldn’t have known about the impending COVID-19 pandemic that would ravage the world just one year later, but her timing couldn’t have been better. The Arnold School launched the Community Health Worker Institute (housed in the Center for Community Health Alignment) in 2019 – just in time to prepare its first cohort of community health workers for a greater challenge than anyone foresaw.

Most southeastern states, including South Carolina, already faced an alarming shortage of health-educated workers to support underserved and rural communities well before COVID-19 surfaced. Grounded in evidence-based research, the community health worker model leverages the talents of grassroots leaders who are vetted within their own communities to provide health services to their fellow residents.

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