Overview of Programs & Services for The Multicultural Health Institute (MHI)

MHI has consulted with organizations such as the Association of Black Cardiologists, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) REACH collaborative, Cobb Institute, Moffitt Cancer Center, Morehouse School of Medicine, National Medical Association (NMA), and the local health department.

Locally, MHI actively partners with:  HIV/AIDS Network of Southwest Florida (HANS), Genesis Health Services, Gulf Coast Medical Society, Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Greater Hurst Chapel, Orange Blossom Community Garden, North Sarasota Library, and numerous other community-based organizations. 

Community Based Services & Initiatives

• Consulting services to aid in the development of community-based health education programs and services
• Developing insightful community assessments

• Creating forums to educate and inform people about health and wellness issues

• Working with local agencies and healthcare systems to offer culturally appropriate programs and training to benefit the population

• Creating STEM mentoring programs that promote health, a strong foundation in science, technology, and math for young people (particularly young women) in the community. Multicultural Health Institute (MHI) founder, Dr. Lisa Merritt talks about STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics) and its importance for America's youth and future competitiveness.

MHI’s Educational Program Summary
….increasing the pipeline of future health leaders

MHI Scholars Program
Student summer program where college to high school, and middle school students have the opportunity to learn from hands on experience of assisting at a physician office. Students are exposed to careers in the medical field and ongoing access to careers mentors, academic and career planning.


Activities include curriculum planning, test prep, research on internships and scholarships, peer-to-peer counseling and provision of other educational resources and study materials. This year we’ve realized over 21 activities in the aforementioned programs and general community health outreach. In the summer we had 7 students participate in the MHI Scholar program, who collectively logged over 374 hours in service and training! check out updates about the scholars, click here


MHI Positive Aging and Wellness Program
High school students are given the opportunity to participate in MHI’s inter-generational Positive Aging and Wellness Program. Students adopt leadership roles in coordinating and managing the Technology sessions at the Positive Aging and Wellness Program monthly series.


Their responsibilities include: researching health care technology links, mentoring seniors on accessing technology and informational health care links, and creating an oral history report on senior participants. During 2014-2015 school year, we hosted 8 sessions on health and wellness topics with 12 students volunteering and dedicating a total of 130 hours.

Know No Bounds Program
Students from schools like Booker High School (a traditionally underrepresented school), are exposed to careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) through ongoing speaking events with health care professionals and continued access to professional mentoring and field trips. In 2014-2015 school year, Know No Bounds program captivated 15 students and brought in 6 guest speakers including an architect, civil engineer, sports psychologist, and medical doctors.

Gatekeepers of Community Health
They hold regular peer to peer led health information and stress management healing circles. Gatekeepers educate and screen youth and other volunteers in the community on a variety of health topics. They promote education and awareness on the issues of hypertension, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS within the community at various events, especially focusing on high risk groups. They can also provide testing, counseling services, and linkage to care as needed.

 Did you know:


  • MHI was instrumental in enhancing the impact of Project Unity, in the Southwest Florida region involving the SDOH (Sarasota, Florida Department of Health) with a variety of established outreach initiatives.

  • MHI was instrumental in introducing the SDOH to area Faith Based leaders, including a presentation by the Area 8 regional minority AIDS coordinator Amy Zamot, and SDOH HIV/AIDS prevention training consultant Joan Surso to the AME District Ministry Meeting of over 20 ministers.

  • MHI also developed a comprehensive program, including training of 20 church Liaisons in 500 and 501 coursework  provided by SDOH. MHI has worked to build relationships within the community, enhanced through its existing Gatekeepers of Community Health, developed under the Silence is Death Initiative in 2007 which was also supported by SDOH. These efforts culminated in increasingly greater participation in the National Week of Prayer for HIV/AIDS as well as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and World AIDS Day.

  • Over the past decade, MHI has developed effective education, prevention, and treatment efforts in SW Florida.  

  • With MHI's input, there has been greater penetration OF HIV/AIDS EDUCATION AND PREVENTION EFFORTS into the high risk populations including African American youth, adults, and MSM (Men who have Sex with other Men).

MHI could not have such impact without the support collective work of so many. Thank you!

Funding support include:

Attain Health, LLC

Center for Disease Control

Cowles Trust

Sarasota Community Foundation and Patterson Foundation via "The Giving Partner Challenge"

CVS Pharmacy

Ina Schnell

Kwikie Print



Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation


Connie Swiner III, MD





Collaborations with:


1 Step

2nd Chance Last Opportunity


All Faiths Food Bank

Alzheimer's Association


Bayhaven, Booker High, Booker Middle, Emma E. Elementary, Fruitville Elementary, Out-of-Doors Academy


Boys & Girls Club

Community Aids Network

Cardiovascular Center of Sarasota

Center for Building Hope

City of Sarasota Commissioners

Cobb Institute

Community Foundation

Children 1st

Children Services

Community Redevelopment Agency

Department Juvenile Justice TASC

Dollar Dynasty

Education Foundation

East West College of Natural Medicine

Easter Seals of Southwest

Florida Blue

Florida Studio Theater


Goodwill Manasota

HIV/AIDS Network of Southwest Florida (HANS)

Health Equities Research Institute (HERI)

Health Equitites Leadership Network

Healthy Start

Howard Club

Jewish Family & Children Services

Journey to Success

KOMEN Foundation

Latin Chamber of Commerce of Sarasota

Media Supporters:

Alix Redmond, SNN News

Charles Clapsaddle, METV

Bobeth Wallace

Ed James, ABC Channel 7

Health Check with Heidi Godman at WSLR Radio 98.9

Susan Burns, Sarasota Magazine

The Nilon Report

Laurel Civic Center


Layne Klabfliesch's 2E Consults


Manatee Rural Health Services

Men Educating Men



New College of Florida

Newtown Biz & Professional Women


Neuropsych Associates

Numerous faith-based communities including Truevine, Bethel, Bethlehem, Greater Hurst Chapel AME, Harvest Tabernacle, West Coast Center for Human Development, Light of the World

Orange Blossom Garden

Pan-Hellenic Council

Pines of Sarasota

Planned Parenthood

Ringling College of Art

Roskamp Institute

Sally Ride Foundation

Sarasota Chalk Festival

Sarasota, Manatee, and Pinellas Department of Health

Sarasota Housing Authority

Sarasota Memorial Hospital

Sarasota Library System

Sarasota Police Department

Sarasota Youth Opera 

Sarasota School Board



Senior Friendship Center

Southern Atelier


Therapeutic Potentials, Inc.

University of South Florida

West Coast Lupsus Foundation


Positive Aging and No Know Bounds Program

We thank you for your support and encouragement.

Our last session acknowledged a late community leader in health awareness, Ms. Eleanor Ball, and her commitment to help plant the seeds of tomorrow's future health leaders.


We held a community conversation on strategy and solutions focused on reducing health disparities in Sarasota County.

The event was greeted by Mayor Willie Shaw, and updates from Dr. Lisa Merritt, SCOPE, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County's Community Health Improvement Partnership (CHIP), and Booker High School student's STEAM presentation.


During the 8 Positive Aging sessions held at the North Sarasota Library, we had 170 adult participants, and 34 middle, high school and college students, facilitating inter-generational discussions, technology knowledge transfer and coaching. Local community expert speakers provided up-to-date information on various health and wellness issues, useful sources and linkage to care. In addition, they spent time speaking with the students about their careers and healthy choices.

Some of our other projects have included:

• Developing multicultural healthcare curricula for medical schools, including Morehouse School of Medicine.

• Creating and participating in community forums regarding pertinent multicultural health issues.

• Created a report documenting "Use of Community Assessments to Eliminate Health Disparities"

• Collaborating with local agencies and healthcare systems with grant support to offer joint, culturally appropriate   programs, and staff training.

• Establishing a multicultural resource center to meet the informational needs of community organizations, universities,  and the healthcare industries.

• Led Silence is Death initiative in Florida's Sarasota and Manatee counties, substantially increasing the capacity of local   communities for testing, peer education and referral to treatment resources, as well as formation of the:
  Gatekeepers  of Community Health.

• Consultant to Genesis Heath Services, Newtown Wellness programs in development and implementation.