Diverse Scholars Initiative

The United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative invests in the 21st century health workforce by providing financial support, internship and mentor programs and an annual scholar forum in Washington, D.C.

A diverse health workforce and the unique perspective it brings contributes to enhanced communication, health care access, patient satisfaction, decreased health disparities and improved problem-solving for complex problems.1 Cultivating a health workforce that reflects our society at large and delivering personalized, culturally competent care will raise the quality of health care across the board and help spur innovation. That's why the United Health Foundation is devoted to nurturing the 21st century health workforce through the Diverse Scholars Initiative.

The Diverse Scholars Initiative works to create a more relevant health workforce, particularly in underserved communities, by increasing the number of primary care health providers ready to meet future health care needs.

Students who participate in the Diverse Scholars Initiative are passionate, hardworking and eager to give back to their communities. Many scholars plan to work in underserved communities and community health centers, tackling population health challenges and health care shortages that have a huge impact on low-income and minority communities. One of these shortages is the need, nationwide, for more primary care physicians. According to America's Health Rankings, only approximately 156 primary care physicians are available for every 100,000 people across the country. The majority of the health professional shortage areas are in rural locations.2

Since the inception of the Diverse Scholars Initiative in 2007, the United Health Foundation has provided more than $23 million in funding in support of nearly 3,000 scholarships. However, investing in the country's 21st century health workforce is not limited to multi-year financial support. The Diverse Scholars Initiative also provides mentor and internship programs, and assistance with monitoring graduation rates and professional outcomes. Scholars must demonstrate financial need, the pursuit of a degree that will lead to a career as a primary care health professional, and a commitment to working in underserved communities. In addition to improving access and affordability, we are working to ensure that all communities receive the best quality of care to improve outcomes. Investing in our future health workforce helps to ensure our nation's health care system is the most effective and innovative system in the world. These students all have compelling stories that demonstrate why they are committed to building a better future workforce that can create a 21st century health care system for our country.

(March 2020)

1) The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health

2) PDFAmerica's Health Rankings 2018 Annual Report


The Diverse Scholars Forum brings together undergraduate, graduate and doctorate-level scholarship recipients from across the nation. Scholars meet with policymakers and thought leaders to discuss the nation's most pressing health issues, network with peers and special guests, and engage in interactive dialogue to share their own ideas and experiences.


The Diverse Scholars Initiative partners with nine nonprofit and civic organizations to provide scholarships to undergraduate, graduate and doctorate level students across the country.

Maria Vormestrand, a student attending Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten, North Dakota, is a participant in the United Health Foundation's Diverse Scholars Initiative. The United Health Foundation is devoted to nurturing the 21st century health workforce through the Diverse Scholars Initiative.