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 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, hours per week, preferred organization to work with, 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 each community organization. Our goal is to accommodate as many students as possible, but student schedules, community partner availability, and other logistical factors may affect this. 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 2023 cycle, students may apply to be matched with Tennessee Justice Center or Tennessee Health Care Campaign. These organizations were selected to participate in the Lefkowitz Fund, 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 will include developing advocacy materials related to Medicaid expansion for different audiences (like college students), distributing a Health Disparities survey, gathering signatures for the #blackhealthmatters pledge / creating digital advocacy content for the new Black Health Matters website, and more. Projects with Tennessee Health Care Campaign will include developing advocacy content and materials for varying legislative districts related to Tennessee policy, conducting rural hospital background research, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and more. Students will apply and will be matched to host sites, where more project details will be discussed and defined. Community partner representatives and VUMC OHE will negotiate a budget to cover some of the costs for the project.

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 January-May 2023. We hope to offer this award annually and would prefer on-going projects that cohorts of students might engage with over time.

Deliverables and Reporting Requirements

Students and community partners 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. Community partners will sign off on all deliverables.


Community Partner-OHE Scope of Work Development

December 2022

Student Application Released

December 20, 2022

Student Application Due

January 13, 2023

Award Announcements



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

The Lefkowitz Fund was recently re-designed and this is an opportunity for students, staff, faculty and community partners to co-learn and jointly create something new that advances Dr. Lefkowitz’s vision of engaging students in community health. As such, we want to hear from you on how this process can be made most beneficial for both students and the community organizations.