We are a coalition of academics, professionals, and graduate and undergraduate students volunteering our time to advocate for the health and wellbeing of California's citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Engaging the Community For the Community


In this contest, high-school and undergraduate student teams compete for prizes (up to $200 per team). The contest requires students to create short media messages (infographics, videos etc.), that can be shared on social media, to encourage the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The contest focuses on recruitment of students from communities of color within California to address access to COVID-19 vaccinations, health literacy, and vaccine hesitancy.

The project aims to help improve vaccination rates by engaging youth from within these communities to do the following:

  • Activate social networks to change perceptions of what others within their networks are doing.

  • Work directly with communities to understand their fears and concerns about COVID-19 vaccines

  • Engages community members as youth ambassadors to create messages to combat vaccine hesitancy, improve health literacy, and provide information on where and how to get vaccinated.  


The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities in California and the United States hard. Latino and Black residents in places like Los Angeles get infected and die at much higher rates than white people [1]. Nationally, BIPOC communities are also at risk. The chart below from The Centers for Disease Control [2] shows how much these communities are suffering:








Getting vaccinated is one way to reduce the number of people getting infected and dying within these communities. However, research suggests that 27% of the population[3] in the United States remain hesitant about COVID-19 vaccines with 35% of Black adults and 26% of Hispanic adults stating they “definitely or probably would not get vaccinated [3].
















As this graph shows, communities hit the hardest have strong concerns about vaccination. Therefore, it is important that any effort to promote COVID-19 vaccination include community members, and address community concerns via grassroots efforts. Research from the Center for Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida states people are influenced by the behavior of their friends, family, and community members. Thus, engaging youth within these communities as health messaging ambassadors to help others learn the facts about available vaccines, how they are developed, and why they are safe, supports efforts to reduce vaccine hesitancy.


[1] Lin II, R.-G., & Money, L. (2021, January 14). Deaths among Latinos in L.A. County from COVID-19 rising at astonishing levels. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-01-14/latino-black-and-poor-residents-suffer-dramatically-worsening-covid-death-rates

[2CDC. (November, 2020). Cases, Data, and Surveillance. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/investigations-discovery/hospitalization-death-by-race-ethnicity.html

[3] Hamel, L., Kirzinger, A., Muňana, C., & Brodie, M. (2020). KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: December 2020. KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor. https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/report/kff-covid-19-vaccine-monitor-december-2020/