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Inspired by Ghana Trip, Jenn Gross Invests in DGHI Student Research

September 13, 2016

Editor’s note: We’re pleased to highlight the fifth in a series of profiles that highlight qualifying gifts for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Matching Grant. This dollar-for-dollar match is reserved for gifts that support priority areas for the Duke Global Health Institute: education programs, graduate fellowships, faculty support, and international partnerships. Unrestrictive gifts for use at the discretion of the Institute director may also be given.

DGHI board member Jennifer Gross took her first trip to Africa in 2011 with Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, after her family made a philanthropic donation to the institute. As they were touring a hospital in Ghana, the young daughter of an HIV patient ran up to her and leapt into her arms.

During that trip, Gross went to three Millennium Villages and learned about socioeconomic development and health’s integral role in lifting a population out of poverty. She also had the opportunity to visit the African Union, where she witnessed governments creating health policy.

Deeply moved by this experience, Gross has dedicated her life to solving global health problems. In 2015, she started the Blue Chip Foundation, which focuses on alleviating extreme poverty in the developing world, education in the United States and social enterprise. Through the foundation, she recently completed a book and five short films that document the Millennium Villages in its final year; an exhibition at the United Nations is planned for December 2016.

This year, as part of DGHI’s Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Matching Grant, she established the Jennifer Gross Global Health Fund, a $100,000 investment that will provide support for experiential learning and research opportunities for students at DGHI.

“With DGHI being a fairly new institute, I thought my donation was a great investment in helping it flourish,” Gross said. “And I’m honored to be working in conjunction with the Gates Foundation.”

Gross and her husband, Peter Stengaard, are particularly interested in seeing DGHI continue building our research portfolio in mental health, innovative health policy and emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola and Zika. She would like DGHI to play an active role in the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Learn more about the matching grant and read other donor stories, visit the matching grant page of our website.

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Jenn Gross in Potou, Senegal, filming a documentary on the Millenium Villages Project in 2015.

With DGHI being a fairly new institute, I thought my donation was a great investment in helping it flourish.

Jenn Gross, DGHI board of advisors member and matching donor

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