"The program leaders are dedicated to expanding and nurturing connections for each of the scholars. At each juncture of my career development, the WK Kellogg family of researchers has been there…The Kellogg connection has allowed me to meet incredible colleagues who are now positioned in key positions such as universities, government entities, foundations and policy think-tanks. I feel that we are part of an important movement of social change."
— Kellogg Scholar Program Alumna, 2006
In 2006, the Kellogg Health Scholars Program (KHSP) combined two prior highly successful Kellogg-funded post-doctoral programs: Community Health Scholars Program (CHSP) and Scholars in Health Disparities Program (SHDP). These two antecedent programs united their proven strengths and partnered with allies in policy, practice, and community organizations across the country to further the movement for the elimination of health disparities and the securing of equal access to the conditions and services essential for the achievement of healthy communities.

The Community Health Scholars Program (CHSP) was established in 1998 to train future faculty at schools of public health and other health professional schools, with skills in and career commitment to community-academic partnering, community-based participatory research, the study of social determinants of health and health disparities, multi-cultural competency, and public health policy. CHSP was, in many respects, a response to an earlier Kellogg-sponsored initiative, "Community-Based Public Health". That 5-year program, developing models of community-academic-practice partnerships, made evident the lack of faculty at public health and other health professions schools who had expertise to develop community-academic partnerships or to engage in community-based participatory research (CBPR).

The Scholars in Health Disparities Program (SHDP) was established in 2001 to train future faculty and policy-makers in the study of health disparities, behavioral and social science theories and methods, epidemiology and networking with national public health policy institutions related to the achievement of public health goals.

Both programs have incorporated the ecological view of disease causation. CHSP provided training in CBPR, highlighting relationships between academe, community and public health practice, and state and local policy relationships. SHDP emphasized a multi-disciplinary approach to studying the social determinants of health disparities, and highlighted relationships to national policy making bodies. The recruitment and selection processes of both programs stressed the need to increase the diversity of faculty in schools of public health and other health-related academic institutions.

Since their inception, these two legacy postdoctoral programs collectively enrolled over 90 scholars who completed their fellowships are now pursuing academic, policy or health agency careers. Most alumni are Scholars of color, African American, Hispanic/Latino and Asian American.

The impact these two programs have made on the careers of each of their fellows, the institutions where they have trained and where they are pursuing their careers, and the communities where they have worked is evidenced by the of alumni of the Scholars in Health Disparities Program biographies (2004 Scholars, 2003 Scholars and 2001 Scholars) and the "Stories of Impact" and "Building the Movement for Community/Academic Partnerships" brochures issued by the CHSP. Alumni from the two programs are now engaged in research, teaching and policy work on health disparities at over 50 institutions and agencies.

Scholar research on health disparities carried out during and following their traineeships has addressed issues of youth violence, smoking, environmental justice, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, women's health, mental health, obesity, sexual health, air quality, bilingual training of health workers, hypertension among African American males, employment and health, genetics and disparities, stress, cancer, and substance abuse.

Scholar alumni have played major roles in changing federal agency research funding to support community participation, directing a major program on African American men's health, pioneering CBPR applied to sexual health, assisting community-based organizations in receiving major grants, administering training programs for minority scholars, providing research support for the Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust, and enriching curriculum at historically Black universities. Scholars and scholar-alumni from both programs have authored or co-authored over 350 publications since the inception of their fellowships.

In describing CHSP, its evaluator, Dr. Norge Jerome, stated "Two voices in unison, one in academia and the other in the community, to demonstrate ... that this is the way you bring about change if you're concerned about elevating the health of the public." One community leader in describing the relationship with academe resulting from CHSP stated "What the relationship gives us is resources, information, assistance and sometimes personnel that we wouldn't have access to in any other way. They help us fill in the gap."

Speaking of SHDP, former President Jimmy Carter wrote "As they become leaders in their fields, this diverse cadre of 30 scholars — in disciplines ranging from medicine to sociology, political science to public policy — will make a real difference in sensitizing U.S. health policy."

For seven years, both programs sought to connect with each other for their mutual benefit. Together with a pre-doctoral program, the Kellogg Health Policy Fellows , CHSP and SHDP jointly planned and implemented four annual "Tri-Program Super Symposia" from 2002-2005 in the Washington, DC area. At these symposia, Scholars from all three programs shared their academic experiences, and through panels and break-out sessions, met and had discussion with policy makers, policy advocates and community leaders. After that, from 2006 to the present, these networking symposia for the Kellogg Community of Scholars have been organized by the Kellogg Health Scholars Program.

The experiences of these annual meetings created for our scholars and the leadership of both postdoctoral programs a desire to combine efforts to form a growing community of future leaders to address health disparities, and to enable scholars in each program to gain skills and insights that are highlighted in each other's programs. SHDP Scholars, for example, would gain an understanding of the value of CBPR and academic-community partnerships. Conversely, CHSP Scholars, whose work often connects with state and local policy and practice organizations, would gain an understanding of how their CBPR findings can influence federal health policy development.

The SHDP and CHSP have also developed a "Community of Scholars" as scholars of both programs met and communicated with each other, with their academic and community mentors and policy/advocacy partners and with the members of the two programs' national advisory community. This broader network of scholars included fellows from the Kellogg Fellows in Health Policy Research Program and the H. Jack Geiger Congressional Health Policy Fellows. The Kellogg Fellows in Health Policy Research Program has created a cadre of health policy researchers with expertise in the area of program evaluation and measurement, with attention to the policy implications of health research. There are 30 talented minority men and women alumni of the program with doctorate degrees in public health, health policy, or social policy. The program alumni fill important positions in academe, policy development, foundations and research-to-policy and advocacy organizations. Two of the Kellogg Fellows program alumni are Kellogg Health Scholars, Dr. Emma Sanchez (2008-2010 cohort) and Dr. Kalahn Taylor-Clark (2006-2008 cohort).

The H. Jack Geiger Congressional Health Policy Fellows Program, provided the Congressional Tri-Caucus groups, health committees and offices on health disparities and health policy an important opportunity to have on staff highly trained minority health policy advisors who can actively participate in national public policy decisions that can improve the health of minority populations. There are six Geiger Fellows program alumni. These alumni are in academic and foundation positions. Two of the Kellogg Fellows alumni, Dr. Emily Ihara and Dr. Laurie Nsiah-Jefferson, and two of the SHDP alumni, Dr. Lisa Cacari-Stone and Dr. Portia Coles, are also alumni of the Geiger Fellows Program.

As the two pre-existing programs, CHSP and SDHP, approached the end of their funding periods, there was increasing discussion and planning of an extension of the programs that would achieve a closer connection between them, maintaining the strengths of each while enhancing both and realizing administrative efficiencies. The Kellogg Health Scholars Program is the result of that planning process.