Lewis B. Lefkowitz Fund

Application period currently closed.


Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Office of Health Equity, in partnership with the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, is seeking applications from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) medical or public health students to gain applied experience and exposure to community health and health equity. The Lefkowitz Fund supporting student engagement in community health is named in honor of Dr. Lewis Lefkowitz. The Lefkowitz Fund recognizes and continues Dr. Lefkowitz's commitment to extending public health and medical education beyond the classroom and into the community. Click here to learn more about Dr. Lefkowitz.

Community organizations working with VUSM students will receive funds to support student-led community initiatives that create equitable opportunities for all populations to achieve their best health possible. 

Student Background

Students involved in the Lefkowitz Fund must be enrolled in a MD, MPH, or MD +Additional Degree program at Vanderbilt University. Students must submit an application indicating their program of study, availability, preferred organization to work with, skills and topic area interests, and whether they would like for this community health immersion experience to count towards curricular requirements. Projects will be done in cohorts, as multiple students will be matched to work with the community organizations. Our goal is to accommodate as many students as possible, but student schedules, community organization availability, and other logistical factors may affect this. Applications will also be reviewed by the community organization for final cohort selections. Additionally, please note that this is not a paid experience for students. The student application can be found here

Community Partner Background

Projects must be completed jointly between the community organization and cohort of students. For the 2024 cycle, students may apply to be matched with Tennessee Justice Center or Tennessee Health Care Campaign. These organizations were selected to participate in the 2024 Lefkowitz Fund cycle, as they offer projects that expose students to policy and advocacy work that advances health equity (e.g. conducting background research and gathering data to inform advocacy efforts, understanding key audiences and messaging, educating and engaging legislators, engaging key partners in advocacy efforts, etc.) More specifically, projects with Tennessee Justice Center may include developing advocacy materials related to Medicaid expansion and rural hospital closures, distributing a Health Disparities survey, gathering signatures for the #blackhealthmatters pledge / creating digital advocacy content for the new Black Health Matters website, engaging health care providers to be health equity advocates, and more. Projects with Tennessee Health Care Campaign may include developing advocacy content and materials for varying legislative districts related to Tennessee healthcare policy, conducting rural hospital background research for advocacy efforts, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and more. More project details will be discussed and defined once students have been matched with the community organizations. 

Project Timeframe

The length of projects may vary and can be discussed between the community organization and student, but the general timeframe will be from end of January to May 2024. We plan to continue offering this award annually and aim to connect with on-going projects that cohorts of students can engage with over time. 

Deliverables and Reporting Requirements

Students and community organizations will be asked to submit a brief final report and any project deliverables to the Office of Health Equity. Students are encouraged to also include any photos, fliers, or other information that describe the success of the project. Students will also be asked to complete a short feedback survey. Community organizations will sign off on all deliverables. 


Community Partner-OHE Scope of Work Development

November-December 2023

Student Application Released

December 12, 2023

Student Application Due

January 9, 2024

Award Announcements

Mid-January 2024

Student Orientation & Onboarding 

End of January 2024


Please contact sarah.r.ray@vumc.org with questions.

The Lefkowitz Fund is an opportunity for students, staff, faculty, and community partners to co-learn in a way that advances Dr. Lefkowitz's vision of engaging students in community health and health equity. As such, we want to hear from you on how this process can be made most beneficial for both students and the community organizations.