Supporting the career development and academic advancement of researchers from historically underrepresented backgrounds who conduct health equity research.

Research is stronger, more accurate, actionable, and equitable if diverse groups of researchers who encompass varied perspectives and lived experiences are designing and conducting it.

Yet, structural racism and discrimination often stand in the way of the career trajectory for many underrepresented researchers. They are often compelled to take on duties to support efforts related to diversity, equity, and inclusion rather than attending to their own career development and impact. Biased methods of assessment and evaluation for tenure, promotion, and other forms of disparate treatment, also lead to disparities in advancement and promotion.

RWJF’s Health Equity Scholars for Action (HES4A) program exists to challenge biases and outdated conventions in research and academia by supporting early-career researchers from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Through funding, mentorship, coaching—and access to a broad community of people who understand their lived experiences—scholars will create a body of actionable evidence that mitigates the root causes of health inequities in the United States, recognizing that those inequities are strongly linked with structural and systemic racism and other forms of oppression.


African american business man sitting on a bench of the city working with his laptop

About the HES4A Program

Program Design

HES4A is designed to enhance the support, resources, and community necessary for participants to thrive professionally and personally. Grants will support three aspects of career development: 1) research, 2) mentorship, and 3) connection with a community of support. Each scholar is matched with a technical mentor and/or a career coach to help them develop and strengthen technical skills, explore career opportunities, and foster networks of support and accountability within their fields.

The Scholars

Scholars are junior faculty members or postdoctoral fellows at accredited schools in the United States or its territories, poised for tenure track positions. They have completed a doctoral degree within the last five years. All scholars represent a systematically marginalized group that has historically been underrepresented in research disciplines. (The term “systematically marginalized” refers to the challenges facing individuals because of their race, ethnicity, gender expression or sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or similar factors.)


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Why Supporting Future Scholars From Diverse Backgrounds Matters for Health Equity

Research is stronger, more accurate, actionable, and equitable when people with varied perspectives and lived experiences design and conduct it.