The Heart and Soul of Black Churches

Dates of Project: 1999–2003

Field of Work: Reducing heart disease among Black church members in South Carolina

Problem Synopsis: South Carolina has a high rate of cardiovascular disease. Among Blacks, the incidence of heart attacks is greater than for the state’s population overall.

Synopsis of the Work: Through its Heart and Soul program, staff at the Palmetto Project trained teams of volunteers in Black churches to take blood pressure measurements of church members and provide them with nutrition information. Heart and Soul started as a pilot program in five South Carolina counties.

Key Results

  • After four years:

    • More than 1,200 people from 600 churches had been trained in how to check blood pressure.
    • Volunteers had conducted about 172,000 blood pressure screenings.
    • When RWJF funding ended, the Palmetto Project sustained the program with federal and private funds.