Over the last several years, projects initiated through the AAP’s Community Access to Child Health (CATCH) program have advanced child health for vulnerable populations and connected nearly 2,000 pediatricians and pediatricians-in-training with their communities.
Here in Minnesota, one MNAAP member has had a front row seat to the CATCH project process for more than a decade. Brian Lynch, MD, FAAP, began serving as the chapter’s CATCH facilitator in 2010 after then-MNAAP President Anne Edwards, MD, FAAP, recruited him for the role. Dr. Lynch practices at Mayo Clinic, where he also serves on the faculty as an associate professor of pediatrics.
As a CATCH facilitator, Dr. Lynch helps chapter members prepare for the grant application, as well as review and grade CATCH applications from other chapters. According to the AAP, the CATCH program is a flagship initiative that has, for 30 years, supported pediatricians and residents to collaborate within their communities to advance the health of all children, especially the most vulnerable children.
Through an annual competitive process, CATCH awards seed funding for planning and implementation grants to pediatricians; fellows/fellowship trainees receive $10,000 for planning or implementation projects, while residents are awarded $2,000.
“What’s neat about CATCH grants is they focus on new projects that are pediatrician-led that are in their local community that involve community collaboration and generally serve populations that have demonstrated health disparities,” said Dr. Lynch.
Typically one CATCH project from Minnesota is funded each year, which is a pretty good track record, according to Dr. Lynch. He will often talk through project ideas with eight and 10 people, and of those interested parties three to four will continue on to the process of applying for grant funding. CATCH is a good opportunity for pediatricians or residents who are new to research.
“I really had no research background before coming to Mayo Clinic. Taking on an idea like a CATCH grant would have been very difficult for me when I started. So it’s gratifying to help people who are in that same position move forward with an idea and get a grant application together and implement that idea in their community,” said Dr. Lynch.
The grant cycle typically opens in November with a call for applications and closes in January. Selected projects are announced in April. Work on the project then usually begins the following June. But the work to prepare for a CATCH grant application submission can and should begin earlier to allow for community connections and partnerships to develop, as well as application drafting and refinement. All told, it can take between 10 and 20 hours to prep, but as the chapter CATCH facilitator, Dr. Lynch is ready to help interested applicants.
“One of my goals is that if someone is going to put in that work that they will get funded,” he said. In fact, you get additional points on your application if you work with your chapter CATCH facilitator in the process.
Once funded, CATCH grantees receive technical support from AAP, networking opportunities, and the potential to develop collaborations in their community that extend past the project timeline.
Dr. Lynch was recently joined by a co-facilitator, Chetna Mangat, MD, FAAP, who may eventually take over for him in the role as chapter facilitator. Typically, the chapter facilitator rotates every three years.
“I think it’s important that new people come into this position and bring new energy and new ideas,” he said.
If you are interested in the CATCH grant program, or in a future role as a chapter CATCH facilitator, contact Dr. Lynch at email@example.com.
Previous Minnesota CATCH Funded Grant Projects
2017 – Irreducible Grace Mental Health First Aid
2018 – Dialogue, Diseases and Debunking: Immunization Outreach to Minnesota’s Somali Community; MMR vaccine perceptions among Somali-Minnesotans
2019 – Health and Well-being for Homeless Families; Somali Mother Infant Lactation Experiences Project; Increasing LARC Access in Primary Pediatrics
2020 – Doctors and Teachers Improving Health Together