Advocate | Connect | Transform
A- Advocating on issues significant to local communities
C- Connecting students to meaningful public health practice experiences
T- Transforming learning and practice in the field
Preparing the future public health workforce and providing them with tangible tools and experiences to ensure success, all while benefiting our communities in real-time is of the utmost importance. The ACTion Lab, created by the Office of Public Health Practice and Engagement (OPHPE), affirms this and supports the mission and vision of UTHealth Houston School of Public Health by connecting students with learning and experiential opportunities in the community and translating the school’s values into action.
The UTHealth Houston School of Public Health ACTion Lab is intentionally designed to:
- Prepare School of Public Health students for meaningful community engagement.
- Connect students with community-based opportunities that can fulfill practicum or Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) degree requirements, support student research, or provide general hands-on experience. With a focus on topics critical to preparing students for real-world public health settings, the ACTion Lab serves to train students on how to advocate alongside others on issues of significance to local communities, connect students to meaningful public health practice experiences, and transform learning by doing in the field (i.e. ACT).
Our goals for the 2022-2023 academic year include:
- Launch four online educational training modules
- Facilitate workshops, events, and co-learning spaces
- Identify and develop Service-learning Opportunities and Graduate Fellowship Projects
Mission and Values
The ACTion Lab seeks to bring UTHealth Houston School of Public Health Core Values, Mission, and Vision to life for our students and the communities we serve.
Values in Action
Provide opportunities for students to engage in action-based experiences that help influence decisions impacting health and social well-being among Texas’ most marginalized groups.
Ensure the work of the ACTion Lab (activities, training, experiences, partners, and projects) 1) targets injustices stemming from structural racism and other forms of inequity (classism, sexism, ableism, ageism) and unjust policies and practices and 2) actively involves those individuals and groups most impacted by each targeted health issue.
Provide opportunities in which faculty members, community members, and students become co-learners and co-generators of knowledge and facilitate dissemination through broad channels, both traditional (academic journals, white papers) and non-traditional (podcasts, community talks, vlogs).
Training, Education and Service-Learning
Are you looking for ways to broaden your understanding and strengthen your skills? Then the ACTion Lab is for you!
The ACTion provides students a connection to programming and learning opportunities focused on equity, advocacy, and authentic engagement.
By engaging with the ACTion Lab, students will enjoy:
- Workshops, speaker series, and other events (open to all)
- Online educational training modules (open to all)
- Connection to Service-learning Opportunities and Fellowships (application may be required)
- Completion certificate opportunities
Workshops and Speaker Series
The ACTion Lab hosts an annual schedule of relevant topical workshops and speaker series. These include, but are not limited to, training on key topics (message framing, racial equity transformation, collective leadership), book club discussions, invited speakers, and more. All events are open to the School of Public Health, and to the community to allow students to learn in collaboration with community partners in co-learning spaces.
For information on upcoming events, visit the UTHealth Houston School of Public Health events calendar.
Online Educational Training Modules
The ACTion Lab provides training for UTHealth Houston School of Public Health students on topics relevant to successful community-based transformative engagement. In collaboration with faculty and community partners, we aim to offer online modules on the following topics in the coming year:
- Community Engagement
ACTion Lab modules are available to all UTHealth School of Public Health students who wish to pursue them. Access to the modules can be granted upon request. As the ACTion lab grows, additional modules critical to the work of the Lab will be developed. To request access, complete the ACTion Lab Online Educational Training Modules Request Form. All questions can be directed to ACTionLab@uth.tmc.edu.
Service-learning Opportunities-Coming Soon!
The ACTion Lab facilitates the connection of students with service-learning opportunities of importance to both the student and the community. These opportunities are available to all students and can be pursued over a half-day, multiple days, or weekend. Depending on the need of the community partner, some may extend over a week.
The ACTion Lab recommends students use the following resources to identify volunteering opportunities in their area.
- Everywhere- VolunteerMatch - Where Volunteering Begins
- Austin- Volunteer ATX
- Brownsville- Volunteer Brownsville
- Dallas- Volunteer Dallas — Dallas Doing Good
- El Paso- Volunteer El Paso
- Houston- Volunteer Houston
- San Antonio- San Antonio Volunteers
All questions can be directed to ACTionLab@uth.tmc.edu.
Graduate Fellowships provided by the ACTion Lab allow incoming and current masters and doctoral students the opportunity to participate in a community-based project to gain experience in equity-centered projects. ACTion Lab Fellows may select a pre-existing long-term experience through the Lab or propose one of their own. Fellowships are not guaranteed each semester as they depend on project needs and goals.
The ACTion Lab has piloted this program in summer 2022 with the identification of two, Houston-based doctoral students. We hope to welcome additional fellows in upcoming semesters.
ACTion Lab Fellows are expected to:
- Dedicate an approximate 5 to 10 hours per week to their community-based experience
- Dedicate 15 hours per week in support of the ACTion Lab. This support includes, but it is not limited to, the following:
- Administrative support
- Oversight of Service-learning Opportunities and Graduate Fellowships (Doctoral students only)
- Assisting with events and general ACTion Lab operations including the awarding of completion certificates.
- Develop appropriate end products or deliverables
- Active dissemination of end products via abstract/paper submissions, poster presentations, conference presentations, community-facing presentations, or educating legislative bodies at the local, state, and/or federal-level.
ACTion Lab Fellows will receive, at minimum, a paid graduate assistantship position within the ACTion Lab.
Incoming or current UTHealth School of Public Health degree-seeking students are eligible to pursue an ACTion Lab Graduate Fellowship if they were/have:
- Offered the ACTion Lab Fellowship upon receiving admission to UTHealth School of Public Health
- Hold a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
- Complete the Equity, Advocacy, Leadership, and Community Engagement online learning modules during their first semester at UTHealth School of Public Health.
- Completed at least one semester at the School of Public Health
- Hold a graduate Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
- Completed the Equity, Advocacy, Leadership, and Community Engagement online learning modules prior to applying.
Service-learning Opportunity and Fellowship Project Identification
The ACTion Lab Opportunity Directory (coming soon) provides information about available Service-learning, and Fellowship opportunities across all UTHealth School of Public Health campuses. This interactive dashboard provides relevant information about each opportunity including the community partner, location, time expectations, etc. All questions can be directed to ACTionLab@uth.tmc.edu.
If applicable, Service-Learning and Fellowship projects can be used as a practicum or an Integrative Learning Experience (ILE).
Completion Certificates - Coming Soon!
The ACTion Lab provides the opportunity for students to earn a certificate of completion for their time and effort committed to learning and working with communities. To earn a certificate of completion, students are asked to:
- Attend one event hosted by the ACTion Lab
- Complete all online educational modules
- Participate in one community engagement experience (Service-learning Opportunity, Graduate Fellowship)
- Produce a reflection portfolio comprised of a one-page written document and a short video synopsis highlighting their educational and practice-based experience and relevant personal and/or professional development
Partner with the ACTion Lab!
The ACTion Lab aims to connect our students to impactful learning opportunities in communities across Texas. These include opportunities for students to engage in action-based activities that influence decisions impacting health and social well-being within Texas’ most marginalized groups. Doing so will ensure the work of the Lab 1) targets injustices stemming from structural racism and other inequities, unjust policies, and practices and 2) actively involves those most impacted by the health issue.
In order to offer these opportunities to students, the Lab seeks the guidance, support, and collaboration of community partners and organizations. Through the various tiers of student engagement, examples of community and organizational engagement with the ACTion Lab can include;
Co-learning and Educational Activities
The ACTion Lab will host events each semester. These include, but are not limited to, trainings on key topics, book club discussions, invited guest lectures, and more. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with community partners to host and facilitate events. All events are open to the School of Public Health and some are open to the community at large in an effort to better engage with community partners and allow students to learn in collaboration.
We are looking to market small-scale (one day; multi-day; weekend) Service-learning Opportunities to interested students. These can include, but are not limited to, volunteer efforts to support a program or event, deliver presentations, and survey facilitation.
Short- and Long-term Projects
The ACTion Lab offers students the opportunity to participate in meaningful and financially supported short-term (Scholarship Projects) and long-term (Graduate Fellowships) experiences in community. Community partners will be able to work with trained students and provide them a real-world experience. Opportunities suitable for Scholarship Projects and Graduate Fellowships are expected to be more robust than Service-learning Opportunities. Examples include;
Short - Term Projects (8-16 weeks; summer and/or fall)
- Survey/questionnaire development; messaging development; funding identification; presentation development and delivery; data collection and/or assessment; organize community town hall events
Graduate Fellowships (12-24 months)
- Development and/or implementation of community-based activities; grant writing assistance; foundation and government agency proposal submission; community needs assessments; partnership development
Current Community Partners
The Prevention Institute
The Prevention Institute prides itself on health equity, safety, and the well-being of its communities. This institution has four approaches to how it impacts policymakers, decision-makers, professionals, and the public. The approaches are:
- Building capacity.
- Policy and systems change.
The ACTion Lab aims to collaborate with the Prevention Institute to establish resources and educational enrichment that will focus on advancing health initiatives, racial justice, and prevention. To learn more about the Prevention Institute, check out the link to their website.
For additional information or questions, please contact:
Kimberly Baker, DrPH, MPH
Co-director, ACTion Lab
Robert Hammarberg, DrPH, MPA
Co-director, ACTion Lab
The ACTion Lab launched the fellowship program in the Summer of 2022 and proudly hosted two doctoral students who worked with the Prevention Institute (our ACTion lab partner) in both the summer and fall semesters of 2022.
Chishinga worked with the Prevention Institute on an internal equity audit project focused on providing equity training to the Houston Health Department and helped develop evaluation tools and content tools for training efforts.
Chishinga Callender, MS, PhD student
ACTion Lab 2022 Fellow
About: Chishinga Callender is a second year PhD student at UTHealth School of Public-Houston majoring in Behavioral Sciences and Health Promotion. She is passionate about community-engaged research and improving the health and well-being of Black women and girls, with a focus on promoting health lifestyle behaviors (e.g., healthy eating, mindfulness) and eliminating the disparities in Black maternal and reproductive health outcomes, chronic disease outcomes, and nutrition. She is excited about the ACTion Lap providing a space for students to gain experience advocating for public health issues and working actively with community partners.
Earnest worked with the Prevention Institute to develop educational enrichment materials. for community stakeholders working to mobilize parents, educators and the general public on social emotional learning and health education programs in K-12 public schools in and around Houston.
Earnest Clayton, MH.E, DrPh student
ACTion Lab 2022 Fellow
Earnest Clayton is a second year DrPH student at the UTHealth School of Public Health-Houston, focusing on Health Promotion & Health Education. Clayton began his work in public health in 2005, where he has cultivated his knowledge of prevention and treatment against HIV, sexual reproduction education, racism, and mental health. Clayton is passionate about advocating for the mental health of Black men. His research addresses masculinity and what Black men should prioritize when considering their emotional and mental well-being.
Connect with us
Direct any questions to the Office of Public Health Practice and Engagement.
ACTion Lab Team
Kimberly Baker, DrPH
ACTion Lab Co-director
Robert Hammarberg, DrPH
ACTion Lab Co-director