ALAS invites more companies to support Equity Express, a national pilot program helping to improve the health and futures of farmworkers

 Half Moon Bay, CA  July 19, 2022 A new program developed in partnership with Life Science Cares Bay Area and ALAS (Ayudando Latinos a Soñar) will work toward bridging the equity gap faced by farmworkers along the coast. Launching this fall with a retrofitted double-decker bus, the Farmworker Equity Express will provide virtual connections to healthcare providers, mental health services, and online tutoring; plus facilitate online adult classes through local community colleges. The internet and computer-equipped bus will visit several farms in the Half Moon Bay area, enabling workers to connect to needed resources.

ALAS, a nonprofit organization, advocates for farmworkers and the Latino community. During the past two years, ALAS had a clear view of the disparities in access to basic programs by the agricultural worker population, who often live and work long hours in remote areas of the Coastside. The ongoing pandemic highlighted extreme disparities in health equity, evident in disproportionate incidence and mortality of COVID-19 amongst essential workers in general and farmworkers in particular. 

 Dr. Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, Executive Director of ALAS, learned about old, unutilized school buses from ALAS Farmworker Program & Outreach Director, Community Liaison, Joaquin Jimenez.  ALAS sparked the idea of a farmworker bus. After presenting the concept to Aisha Baro, Executive Director of Life Science Cares Bay Area, a broader vision emerged with their idea of a bigger and better bus for this service. 

Employees from Genentech, which operates a longstanding commuter bus program, contributed their time and expertise to identify and design a double-decker bus to make the dream of the Equity Express a reality. Genentech also provided in-kind donations, and AbbVie Inc. recently contributed financially to the project.

“The Farmworker Equity Express bus is the result of the power of nonprofits and biotech companies coming together and turning ideas into reality,” said Hernandez-Arriaga.

 Life Science Cares is a nonprofit organization that mobilizes life science companies into collective community action and philanthropy. They secured significant funding from the Gilead Foundation, making it the primary donor of the Equity Express bus transformation project.  

 “The Gilead Foundation envisions health prosperity for all,” said Kate Wilson, Executive Director of the Gilead Foundation. “Enabling access to healthcare and education for marginalized and traditionally excluded communities is at the core of what Gilead does every day to advance health equity.”

 While funding to start the project has been secured, Life Science Cares and ALAS are actively searching for additional corporate partners to support and sustain the bus project. In addition, they hope to replicate the Equity Express model in other areas with large farmworker populations, to directly provide resources and services. Expanding this project requires additional partners and more funding.

Baro said, “We hope the Equity Express can be a model for future ventures in farmworker communities. We are thankful to Gilead, AbbVie, and Genentech for coming together on this project. And, of course, to ALAS who came up with this vision.”

 “Farmworkers have always experienced an equity gap. The collaboration and innovation behind the Farmworker Equity Express program will help bridge that gap,” said Jimenez.

 About:

 Ayudando Latinos A Soñar (ALAS) 

Life Science Cares Bay Area

Genentech

Gilead Foundation 

AbbVie

 

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Media Contacts:

 Victoria Sanchez De Alba

De Alba Communications (for ALAS)

(650) 270-7810 / victoria@dealba.net

 

Aisha Baro

Life Science Cares Bay Area

(650) 303-6022 / aisha@lifesciencecares.org