Item Coversheet
July 13, 2021

Authorize the hiring of up to 6.5 FTE for the HHS Advancing Health Literacy grant (SR 21-067; H. Thomas, K. Curtis)

Administration / Heather Thomas, Public and Government Affairs Manager 
Prior Board Review:
Board of Health, 1/19/21, 2/9/21; Admin Cmte, 1/27/21; Exec Cmte, 1/28/21 


In February 2021, the Board of Health authorized the Health District to submit a grant application to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) for the “Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19” funding opportunity. The Health District submitted the application in April and received notification of award on June 25, 2021 (see Exhibit A). 

The total award is $4M for a two-year period beginning July 1, 2021. The funding is required to demonstrate the effectiveness of local efforts to improve the access, use, and outcomes of vaccination, testing, contact tracing, and health behaviors related to COVID-19 among racial and ethnic minority populations, including those in rural communities.


The grant proposal included the addition of 6.5 FTE to help carry out the work. This included:

  •  Healthy Communities Specialist – Project Coordinator (1.0 FTE)
  •  Health Equity Advisor (1.0 FTE)
  •  Communications Coordinator (1.0 FTE)
  •  Graphic Specialist (1.0 FTE)
  •  Health Educator (2.0 FTE)
  •  Epidemiologist (0.50 FTE)


One of the first deliverables for the grant is to submit a staffing plan within 30 days. Based on additional discussions since submitting the grant application, as well as ongoing COVID response efforts, staff are now proposing the following:

  • Immediately fill the Epidemiologist role with a recently hired temporary employee and extend her as a term-limited employee at 1.0 FTE through December 2021, and then at 0.5 FTE through June 30, 2023.
  • Delay hiring one of the Health Educators until later in the grant when more community education activities are anticipated. Instead, immediately fill the Communications Coordinator role with two COVID Communications Coordinators through June 2023. These two temporary employees have been working in the Joint Information Center since March and July 2020. Given other COVID funding through June 2022, these two employees will split time between COVID response and the HHS grant activities. This would also allow permanent Communications staff to focus more time on non-COVID activities, as well as providing added capacity for one of the new term-limited employees to cover during the District’s permanent Communications Coordinator maternity leave later this year.
  • Immediately fill the Graphic Specialist role with the temporary COVID Graphic Specialist who has been with the District since August 2020. She would be a term-limited employee at 1.0 FTE through June 2023.
  • Open recruitment to fill the 1.0 FTE Healthy Communities Specialist and 1.0 FTE Health Educator as term-limited employees through June 2023.
  • Staff are in discussions with HHS on some of the programmatic elements of the grant, and to what degree efforts can go beyond COVID-19. Based on input from HHS, staff will either proceed with recruiting for a 1.0 FTE Health Equity Advisor through June 2023 or look at filling on a contract or short-term temporary basis.


Staff are requesting Board approval to move forward with hiring up to 6.5 FTE to carry out the work and deliverables associated with this grant.


Staff will also be bringing forward memorandums of agreement and/or interlocal agreements with key partners involved with the work, which is a required deliverable within 60 days. These include Bastyr University, Edmonds College, Snohomish County, and Sno-Isle Libraries. Legal counsel already reviewed draft templates as a part of the grant application, so staff will work to finalize those and route through committees in July for proposed approval in August.

Board Authority
Consistent with Resolution 19-20 and the revised Division of Responsibilities (10/8/19), the Board of Health has authority of personnel budget, including FTE allocation by program and changes in permanent program staffing.  
Recommended Motion
MOVE TO authorize the hiring of up to 6.5 FTE for the Health and Human Services (HHS) Advancing Health Literacy grant. 
Notice of Award