Arkansas Hospice awarded $50,000 grant to reach rural black communities

By David Edwards on September 27th, 2021


Contact:  David Edwards, Director of Communications Phone:  501-748-3303   Email:

North Little Rock, Ark. – The Arkansas Hospice Foundation has received a $50,000 grant from the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation to educate African American communities in rural Arkansas about the benefits of hospice and palliative care.

Part of the Hillman Serious Illness and End of Life Emergent Innovation Program, the award is one of eight new grants supporting nursing-driven innovation in communities that have historically struggled against oppression, discrimination, and indifference.

For Arkansas Hospice, the grant will support the organization’s “Reaching Communities of Color in Arkansas” initiative to help expand the acceptance and understanding of hospice and palliative care among African Americans, especially in rural Arkansas. Deanna May, RN, one of Arkansas Hospice’s education & quality coordinators, will lead the project alongside Kyle Jones, Arkansas Hospice’s minority outreach coordinator.

“Research shows that minority groups, particularly African Americans, are skeptical of hospice care and are at risk of not dying well – meaning that their final days might be filled with pain, fear, and regret, rather than making the most of that time with loved ones,” May said. Our program will offer education on the benefits of hospice and palliative care through partnerships with African American faith communities and small-town leadership. It’s our hope that these relationships, along with technological innovations, will help turn these statics around – and ultimately help make the final days of more Arkansans as comfortable and pain-free as possible.”

The Advisory Board and Partners for this project include Dr. Keneshia Bryant, director of the Faith-Academic Initiatives for Transforming Health (FAITH) Network and assistant dean for Diversity Equity and Inclusion at the College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Dr. Claudia Barone and Dr. Patricia Cowen from the UAMS College of Nursing; Judge Wendell Griffen and Patricia Griffen.

“Sadly, in many cases, the conflict between being societally devalued and dehumanized and deep respect for the beauty and sanctity of Black life works to exacerbate the grief process and complicate decision-making about care for dying loved ones,” Judge Griffen said. “Through this grant, steps can be taken to provide communities of color much needed compassion, medical expertise, spiritual support, and guidance.”

“The pandemic has made disparities in palliative and end-of-life care even more painfully clear,” said Rachael Watman, Vice President of Programs at the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation. “Together with our partners at the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, we are committed to addressing these gaps in care and advancing innovative ideas to serve marginalized populations.”


14 Parkstone Circle | North Little Rock, AR 72116
(501) 748-3333 or Toll Free (877) 713-2348
Arkanas Hospice Arkanas Hospice Registered 501(c)(3). EIN: 71-0846826