Kent State and Area Health Departments Awarded Grant to Improve Public Health Services

Health professionals will explore how “cross-jurisdictional sharing” can lead to greater efficiency and impact

Kent State University and three health departments in Portage County, Ohio, are pleased to announce receipt of a $125,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to explore how “cross-jurisdictional sharing” can enable greater protection and promotion of public health. This two-year grant will be administered by the Center for Public Policy and Health in Kent State University’s College of Public Health, in cooperation with the health departments of Portage County, the city of Ravenna and the city of Kent. 

The project builds on work previously performed by the Task Force for Improving Public Health in Portage County, which was formed in 2011 to discuss and develop future directions for improving public health services in Portage County. The task force, whose work was supported by Kent State College of Public Health Assistant Dean Ken Slenkovich and Kent State students and staff, recommended that the three departments explore ways to expand their cooperative arrangements. The grant received from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reflects recognition of the contributions of that task force in fostering efforts to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, capacity and performance of the county’s public health system.

Mayor Joseph Bica of Ravenna, who originally convened the task force almost two years ago, was pleased by the receipt of the grant.

“Through this grant, we hope to enable the design of an action plan for public health improvement that will benefit the residents of the city of Ravenna and others within Portage County,” he said.

Communities in Portage County, throughout Ohio and across the country rely increasingly on public health departments for services ranging from immunizations and health education to disaster preparedness and response. In recent years, funding for public health has dropped significantly even as the mission of public health departments has continued to expand.

Cross-jurisdictional sharing allows health departments to share programs, services and resources across the jurisdictions they serve. Sixteen projects in 14 states are being funded through the Center for Sharing Public Health Services. The center will help health officials, policy makers and other key stakeholders identify and share best practices across the country as a strategy to expand the quality and availability of services while also improving efficiency.

Portage County was the only community in Ohio to be selected for a grant, and Kent State was the only university in the country to receive funding to support local public health programs.

“As a college, we are committed to providing research and support to improve public health through service projects like this one, as well as by training public health researchers and professionals,” said Sonia Alemagno, Ph.D., dean of Kent State’s College of Public Health. “We are pleased that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Center for Sharing Public Health Services have recognized what we – along with our colleagues in Portage County – can contribute in these areas.”

“Through this project, we will work to facilitate and provide analytical support to help public health professionals deliver needed public health services in Portage County more efficiently and more effectively,” said John Hoornbeek, Ph.D., associate professor of health policy and management at Kent State, who is serving as principal investigator for the grant.

Kent State also has received support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in the past for grants for the New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program.

The Center for Sharing Public Health Services is a national initiative managed by the Kansas Health Institute with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. To learn more, visit

For more information about Kent State’s College of Public Health, visit

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Media Contacts

For Kent State:
John Hoornbeek,, 330-672-7148
Ken Slenkovich,, 330-672-6504
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

For Portage County Health Department:
DuWayne Porter,, 330-296-9919

For City of Ravenna Health Department:
Kelly Engelhart,, 330-296-6326
Joe Fisher,, 330-296-4478

For City of Kent Health Department:
Jeff Neistadt,, 330-678-8109

POSTED: Thursday, February 21, 2013 12:00 PM
Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2020 01:54 PM
John Hoornbeek