Connections4Health, established in May of 2013 at the Birmingham Free Clinic in Pittsburgh's South Side, is a program that works within established community health centers and other community organizations to address the social health needs of underserved people by focusing on issues such as housing, food security, job training, and utility assistance. It is operated by trained college student volunteers -- Community Health Fellows -- which represent various academic disciplines.  Fellows meet with people one-on-one to understand their social health needs, create an individualized action plan with referrals to relevant social agencies, and follow-up on a weekly basis by phone until the patients' needs are met to their satisfaction. Our focus is on addressing the issues that arise where people live, learn, work and play that influence a person's overall health and wellbeing. Click here to learn a little more about the specifics of how the program works. 

It opened doors and referred me to services. I am appreciative of the help I got.
— Birmingham patient

Whether you are a patient at clinic or a library patron C4H provides people with an individualized action plan linking them with relevant social service agencies that address areas such as:

  • food insecurity
  • transportation
  • housing
  • immigration concerns

These are only a few of the unment basic needs that C4H Fellows come across. The students utilize a comprehensive database of resources to connect people with services, and update the resources database regularly to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information. Students also participate in bi-weekly reflective sessions to address concerns, and hear from experts and stakeholders representing community service agencies.

As C4H Fellows, students gain valuable insight into the current system of medical care, a greater understanding of poverty and social determinants of health, and direct experience with the pathways to health that exist outside the treatment room. The fellowship offers first-hand experience with:

  • people experiencing issues such as housing/homelessness, addiction, health policy, built environment, and poverty and how this effects overall health
  • exploring and deepening their view of the intersection of their chosen field of study and the social determinants of health
  • training in motivational interviewing and other communication skills

If you would like to learn more about this program or discuss the possibility of bringing it to your site, contact

Mike Bowersox at (412) 408-3485 or

Connections4Health is supported through the generous contributions of the Hillman Family Foundation and individual giving.