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 community partners to collaborate with on projects for 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 - and click here for heartfelt remarks made about Dr. Lefkowitz by friend and colleague, Dr. William Schaffner (Vanderbilt Professor of Preventative Medicine in the Department of Health Policy & Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases).

Upon selection, 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, and whether they would like for this community health immersion experience to count as their MPH practicum, capstone, independent study, or research immersion. The student application can be found here.

Community Partner Background

Projects must be completed jointly between the community organization and student. Eligible community organizations include advocacy groups, coalitions, neighborhood associations, community health centers, faith communities and service providers with 501(c)(3) non-profit status. Projects may be local to a community in Tennessee or focus statewide, though organizations with offices in Nashville are preferred. Priority will be given to experiences 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.). Community partners will complete a brief application indicating interest in hosting students. Students will apply and will be matched to host sites. Student(s), community partner representatives, and VUMC will negotiate a budget to cover some of the costs for the project. Budgets will range from $2,000-$7,000.

Community Partner Interest

Interested host sites can fill out this brief application to indicate interest. No budget is required at this time. Because as this is a pilot, we do not yet know how many students will indicate interest and how many projects can be supported. Once we receive applications from students, we will reach out to community partners to work jointly to tailor projects and match students.

Project Timeframe

The length of projects may vary and can be discussed between the community organization and student. 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 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.


Student Application Released

January 24, 2022

Student Application Due

February 18, 2022

Community Partner-Student Scope of Work Development

February-March 2022

Award announcements


*Additional rounds of awards may be available depending on the number of applications received and the availability of funds.


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. Please contact us with questions and join us for an information session to learn more.

For additional information, please email the Office of Health Equity at OHEInfo@vumc.org