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CORE Expands Services for Indigenous Peoples With $1 Million HRSA Grant

Leading crisis relief organization will provide community resources to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, including vaccine distribution. The grant will also serve Black and Hispanic communities.

August, 25 2021

LOS ANGELES – August 25, 2021 – CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), the crisis relief nonprofit organization co-founded by Sean Penn and Ann Lee that has been a leader on the frontlines of COVID-19, has been awarded a $1 million one-year grant from Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand its COVID-19 community services primarily for the Lumbee Tribe and Black communities in Robeson County, North Carolina. The grant will also seek to engage Hispanic communities.

With only 34% of Robeson County residents 18+ vaccinated, the Delta variant is quickly spreading, causing a 151% increase in new cases over the past 14 days. This project will engage the community, respond to hesitancy and support access to increase vaccination rates and strengthen local public health. To build trust and foster dialogue about vaccine hesitancy, CORE will assemble multifaceted coalitions to engage community leaders, religious leaders, tribal leaders, educators and local governments.



This grant follows another award secured in June through HRSA and Partners in Health which provided an initial $260,000. The $1.26 million will enable CORE to support the County and Lumbee Tribe to intensify vaccination advocacy among these under-resourced communities who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. 



“We are in the middle of another major COVID wave. It is vital to protect our communities with easy access to vaccines and resources,” said CORE Co-Founder and CEO Ann Lee. “Working alongside the Lumbee Tribe and Robeson County has taught us that there is no other way out of a crisis than by supporting one another. We are always in awe of this community, who inspires us with their strength and compassion for their neighbors.”



“This funding from HRSA will provide the CORE and its partners with the tools to plan and support SERVE, a program that will address ongoing COVID-19 inequities in rural Robeson County, North Carolina,” said Craig Wilkins, Lumbee Tribal Member and a Senior Advisor at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Under the leadership of Linda Maynor Oxendine, CORE’s North Carolina Area Manager, in collaboration with local health, tribal, and community partners, SERVE will build CORE’s capacity to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. SERVE applies a layered approach focused on improving vaccine acceptance and equitable vaccine access by implementing a COVID-19 public education and outreach campaign. I look forward to watching the program develop and observing the positive outcomes of SERVE.”



CORE began working in Robeson County in 2018 after Hurricane Florence. CORE responded immediately with food distribution, cash and hygiene kits and trained a cadre of community emergency response teams (CERT) to help the community respond to future crises. As COVID-19 spread, CORE has leveraged these CERTs and health partners to provide free testing and support vaccinations. 



In addition to expanding its commitment to Native communities such as the Lumbee Tribe and Navajo Nation – where the organization has been active since April 2020 to provide wraparound services, testing and hygiene kits, as well as build housing – CORE’s contribution to Robeson County public health builds upon the its continued leadership on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response across the United States in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Haiti, Brazil, Columbia and India. 



CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) is a crisis relief nonprofit organization co-founded by Sean Penn and Ann Lee that is dedicated to saving lives and strengthening communities affected by or vulnerable to crisis. Within hours of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Penn mobilized a powerful network to take immediate action. More than 11 years later, CORE continues to lead sustainable programs focused on four pillars: emergency relief, disaster preparedness, environmental resilience, and community building. The organization has expanded beyond Haiti to support communities in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the United States, India and Latin America. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CORE has been operating free testing sites across the U.S. alongside local partners, providing essential resources and contact tracing services as well as part of its integrated approach to combat the pandemic. In 2021, CORE is working with its partners in the U.S. and internationally to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, and has published a manual to encourage equity-focused community-based vaccination operations.

More information: www.coreresponse.org/covid-19 and follow CORE on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.