BOWIE, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland lawmakers on Monday announced $9,899,758 in American Rescue Plan Funding for Bowie State University’s Public Health Information and Technology (PHIT) Workforce program and the school’s COVID-19 data collection.

The funding, which came from the Department of Health and Human Services through the American Rescue Plan, was announced by U.S. Senators Cardin and Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny Hoyer and Anthony Brown; all are Maryland Democrats.

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The PHIT Workforce program aims to train over 4,000 students from underrepresented communities in public health informatics and technology.

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The funding will help the university recruit and train participants, get paid internships and placement into public health agencies for those participants to enter and diversify the PHIT workforce.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the systemic health inequities in our country. We have seen large gaps in public health reporting especially around race and ethnicity data, bolstering the need for a public health workforce representative of its community,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “The best way to ensure that we are equipped for the next public health emergency is to increase skilled training and to diversify our future workforce to truly reflect those they are serving in the health care system.”

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CBS Baltimore Staff