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Outreach 194 - The Wash & Learn Initiative for Health Literacy in Greater Washington, D.C.

Health literacy is a critical pathway to better health outcomes. Yet for countless low-income families, health resources like those on MedlinePlus are simply out of reach. Some are unaware of its existence while others lack the digital skills that enable access to the materials. By meeting people where they are—while waiting at the laundromat—Libraries Without Borders (LWB) strives to empower low-income families with the information they seek in a manner that suits their everyday schedule. In partnership with the Coin Laundry Association (a trade group), we will facilitate health literacy programs inside one pilot laundromat in Greater Washington, D.C.. Once the site is set-up, we will convene community-based organizations and health providers to offer services at the laundromat according to the needs identified by initial surveys. For example, we will explore integrating brochures and guides from NIMH and the Capital Area Food Bank on nutrition; inviting REALTalk DC, DC Hunger Solutions, Young Women’s Project, and the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools to facilitate their programs inside the laundromat; and referring laundromat clients to enroll in programs implemented by Community of Hope and Bowen Center Clinic. Findings from this pilot in Greater Washington, D.C. will build upon similar pilots conducted in Minnesota and will improve understandings about how to customize and iterate health literacy programs in laundromats within different geographic and demographic contexts. Results from this program will also be utilized to apply for an IMLS National Leadership grant, working towards creating best-practices and tools that will support public libraries across the country in building out their own laundromat outreach health literacy programs.
Identify any specific population(s) this project will serve: 
Medically Underserved Areas/Populations
African Americans or Black
Latino or Hispanic
Identify roles of participants this project will serve: 
General public
Project Lead:
Adam Echelman
Funding Source: 
Project Funding:
Federal Fiscal Year: 
Funding Amount: 
Funding Period:
May 1, 2018 to Apr 30, 2019
Project Status: