Minority Health Program

Current, COVID-19 related services:

Vaccine Project: 

About: With the support of some funding from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, through Maine Initiatives, CHOWs have been providing outreach, education, and have been registering patients for vaccination against COVID-19. They have been assisting with the registration process at different sites such as Greater Portland Health, MaineHealth, the Portland Exposition Center run by Northern Light Mercy Hospital, and pharmacies. If you or a loved one would like to get vaccinated, please reach out to a CHOW. 

Flyers are available in the following languages:

Behavioral Health StrengthenME: 

About: MHP Community Health Outreach Workers (CHOWs) are offering emotional support for those experiencing hardship due to the pandemic of COVID-19. If you or a loved one are facing difficulties coping, please reach out to a CHOW. This project is made possible with funding through a grant from Maine DHHS - Department’s Office of Behavioral Health.

Flyers are available in the following languages:

Translated COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19: Symptoms to Look For and Where to Go for Care

Multilingual Guidance for Stay at Home Order

For Multilingual Resources about COVID-19, click here.

Key Facts About Stay at Home Order for Multilingual Neighbors - Espanol, Francais, Portugues, Somali, Arabic


Portland has become increasingly diverse in recent years due to an increase in the foreign-born population, which grew from 7.6% of the city’s total population in 2000 to 13.2% in 2014 (Portland’s Plan 2030). The Minority Health Program (MHP) was established by the City of Portland’s Public Health Division in 2003. The MHP’s mission is to decrease health disparities in the Greater Portland Area by improving access to needed health care services among immigrant, refugee, and low-income Caucasian and African American populations. The MHP identifies community health needs; implements interventions to address them; ensures that available community assets and resources are used responsibly; and collaborates with other health and social service providers to ensure the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services. The MHP serves an average of 400 individuals per year though various services and initiatives including: 

  • Translation
  • Interpretation
  • Cultural brokering
  • Delivery of Cultural Competence, Cultural Humility and Implicit Bias trainings for internal and external stakeholders
  • Biennial community health needs assessments


MHP’s vision of a healthy community is one where:

  • Diversity within the community is respected and valued by community members and institutions.
  • Everyone has access to quality health and social services.
  • Everyone has access to resources and conditions required for a healthy lifestyle.
  • Institutions and policy makers are responsive to community residents.
  • The assets and gifts of community residents are acknowledged and shared.
  • Work is conducted in partnership with community organizations and service providers to identify and address health priorities of minority communities.

Minority Health Photo 1
Minority Health Photo 2


  • Develop and provide evidence-based public health practices with services that enhance access to quality and affordable health care to improve the well-being of minority communities in the Greater Portland Area.
  • Identify, evaluate, and respond to community needs through innovative services.
  • Encourage community-clinical collaborations and partnerships through leadership and advocacy.
  • Promote quality of care and best practices in our community, hospitals, and clinics by providing consultation, education, and training

Minority Health Photo 3

Minority Health Photo 4


  • Improve minority health at the community, family, and individual levels.
  • Increase the capacity of community groups to establish and implement a locally defined community health agenda.
  • Strengthen informal and formal social networks and sense of community by focusing on the strengths and assets of different racial, ethnic, and language groups.
  • Ensure that institutions, including the Public Health Division, are more accessible and responsive to community interests by building an integrated channel of information through the establishment of a network of community health outreach workers.
  • Participate in health policy forums, health plans, task forces, and committees to improve the health of minority groups.

Minority Health Photo 5

Community Health Outreach Workers

The MHP employs Community Health Outreach Workers (CHOWs) to achieve its organizational vision, mission, and objectives. CHOWs are frontline public health workers who have a close understanding of the communities and patients they serve, often sharing similar values, life experience, ethnic background, socio-economic status and language. CHOWs act as cultural mediators between communities and the healthcare, government, and social service systems. They are often embedded in care management teams and provide services complementary to those delivered by the formal health care network. CHOWs may be identified as: lay workers, health educators, health coaches, community health advisors, lay health advocates, lay health workers, promotores(as), family advocates, liaisons, outreach workers, peer counselors, patient navigators, outreach educators, community health representatives, peer health promoters, peer health educators, trained lay workers, and other designations (Goodwin & Tobler, 2008). In practice, CHOWs’ titles vary depending on their job duties, the organization that they work for, and the location they serve.  The MHP currently employs one full-time CHOW and 30 contract CHOWs working on multiple projects in collaboration with a wide range of community partners. 

Translation, interpretation, and cultural brokering services are available for the following racial, ethnic, and language groups in the Greater Portland Area: 

Arabic (Northern, Southern)
Portuguese (Angolan, Brazilian)


If you are interested in becoming a CHOW and working with the MHP, please contact Nélida R. Berke at (207) 874-8735 or nrb@portlandmaine.gov

Arabic/Sudanese Health Helpline

ACA help lines