News Release

U of M School of Public Health receives $4.7 million to lead workforce consortium

Public health worker speaking to patient in a car
Credit: iStock

Public health infrastructure in the U.S. has lost up to 20% of its practitioners since 2008. The COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed the already underfunded and understaffed system, which presents a serious need to increase workforce capacity for current and future emergencies.

A $4.7 million cooperative agreement from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will allow six universities — including the University of Minnesota  —  to address these challenges by conducting robust workforce research, evaluation and analysis. The other partners include Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, Indiana University, University of Washington and East Tennessee State University.

The unique collaboration is called the Consortium for Workforce Research in Public Health (CWORPH). Led by the Center for Public Health Systems at the U of M School of Public Health (SPH), CWORPH’s research will look at what drives turnover, ways to recruit and retain staff and how to fill workforce gaps. The consortium also includes several national practice-oriented partners, such as the National Association of County and City Health Officials, Public Health Training Centers and the de Beaumont Foundation, who will help identify chronic and acute public health needs.

“Our country badly needs a larger and more stable public health workforce, equipped with the requisite tools to address contemporary challenges and threats,” says SPH Interim Dean Timothy Beebe. “We are excited about this new consortium and honored to leverage the expertise of this school with that of our university partners to advance public health capacity.”

Each of the six consortium members has a deep and longstanding commitment to the mission of public health and the sustainable development of its workforce including increasing diverse staff that represents the communities they serve; prioritizing staff retention; maintaining efficient workforce systems and processes; and developing capabilities to implement public health advances.

On the ground with its practice-oriented partners, the consortium’s work will include research to better understand public health workforce needs; large-scale survey data collection and analysis; economic analysis to understand options for resource allocation; and health equity research with a focus on the needs of racial, ethnic minority and rural communities.

“With funding from HRSA and CDC, and the support of our partners, this feels like the first time in a while where we have been able to say that all parts of the public health workforce matter — rigorous, practice-oriented research included,” said JP Leider, project lead and director of the Center for Public Health Systems at SPH.


About the School of Public Health
The University of Minnesota School of Public Health improves the health and wellbeing of populations and communities around the world by bringing innovative research, learning, and concrete actions to today’s biggest health challenges. We prepare some of the most influential leaders in the field, and partner with health departments, communities, and policymakers to advance health equity for all. Learn more at

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