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Research and Community Programs


Begin the Turn

Contact: Jonetta Gibbs, MS

This integrative, trauma-informed, community-based outreach and mobile care recovery program serves people experiencing substance use disorder and other addictions.  

Begin the Turn recognizes the dignity in each individual. Through community-driven initiatives and education, the team seeks to dismantle the stigma attached to the disease of addiction. The team’s methods empower individuals struggling with addiction to navigate a complex and intimidating system. Care is provided in a safe and inclusive environment where harm reduction and treatment are the focus. Recovery is supported through street-based treatment efforts and linkages to social services. Wrap-around care includes buprenorphine services for opioid use disorder, counseling, case management, and other rehabilitative services and opportunities.


Cure Violence Philadelphia

Contact: Peter Simonsson, PhD, MSW, LCSW

This structured violence intervention program is based on the premise that violence is a public health issue. The program is designed to reduce the spread of violence through interrupting its transmission, concentrating on those at highest risk, and changing social norms that propagate violence. As a replication site of the global Cure Violence model created in Chicago, our adapted model works to reduce the level of violence, particularly shootings and homicides, in Philadelphia. Trained outreach workers identify and mediate conflicts in the community. They work with high-risk individuals -- meeting them where they are and helping them obtain the social services they need -- making them less likely to commit violence.


Farm to Families

Contact: Racquel Williams-Payne

Given the limited access to fresh food in North Philadelphia, this program addresses chronic disease related to poor diet and physical inactivity through access to, fresh produce and foods. With low cost options, including a FreshRX “prescription” from a Temple physician,, families buy fresh, organic produce year-round at a reduced price – helping them build capacity for healthier eating habits. Temple University Hospital and Lewis Katz School of Medicine partner with the St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children and the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative to source, package, and deliver fresh food to community food hubs.  


Program for Maternal Health Equity (PMHE) 

Contact: Sharon J. Herring, MD, MPH

The Program for Maternal Health Equity conducts ethical, antiracist, and community-engaged research to advance and nurture the health, wellbeing and agency of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous birthing families in Philadelphia and beyond. Through collaborative program action and by leveraging resources in service of community needs, PMHE's team of clinicians, birth workers, and researchers cultivate impactful and sustainable solutions that support health equity at individual, family, health system, and societal levels. The program’s vision is to create a society that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous birthing families. For more information, please visit


Philadelphia Healthy and Safe Schools

Contact: Mary Beth Hays, LSW

This progressive, human-centered initiative focuses on creating trauma-informed schools. A primary objective is to engage with community sectors, staff, parents, and children to increase their awareness and application of trauma-informed principles. A team of trauma specialists use educational coaching, parenting guidance, and social work values to empower the school community. A principal endeavor of the program is to transform two nearby public K-8 schools into urban trauma sensitive beacons. Providing safe and welcoming trauma-informed schools for children to learn, teachers to educate, and a community to grow will elicit openings to achieve educational milestones, generate a climate of sustainability, and engender greater academic and social equity. 


Miriam-Zion-Temple (MZT)

Contact: Cornelius Pitts, PharmD

The Miriam-Zion-Temple Collaborative is a unique community-based health care initiative created as the outreach team of Miriam Medical Clinics, Inc. The team serves in partnership with Zion Baptist Church, a trusted community partner and Temple University’s Center for Urban Bioethics at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine. The mission of MZT is to build trusting relationships and connections between communities affected by a lack of healthcare and healthcare practitioners. MZT is attentive to the Social Determinants of Health that serve as obstacles to the right of health care for a significant percentage of the Philadelphia population.  Recognizing that communities commonly seen as neighborhoods of privilege have life expectancy of 82 years whereas other communities may have life expectancy as low as 64 years, MZT hopes to be an agent of change in reducing this wide gap of life expectancy. Healthcare screenings and medication reviews for the purpose of identifying undiagnosed chronic diseases and misuse of prescribed medication, serve as key vehicles to begin conversations resulting in broader avenues of communication and access to health and trauma services.