Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Diversity Outreach Initiative 2008

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

November 19, 2008







New York City suffers from an acute blood shortage: annually, 700,000 units (1 unit = 1 donation) are used, but fewer than 500,000 units are donated. The New York Blood Center’s (NYBC’s) responsibility is to provide precise blood matches through PreciseMatch for all chronically transfused individuals, including those with sickle cell anemia, in the metropolitan area. With support from NYHealth, NYBC implemented a new wide-ranging outreach program in African-American and Hispanic communities to significantly build the agency’s capacity to deliver needed blood types and save lives.

Each year, donations of blood to New York Blood Center (NYBC) fall several hundred thousand units short of the demand. Donations by people of color are in especially short supply. Five percent of all area transfusions are for sickle-cell anemia patients, who are primarily of African and Hispanic descent and eventually must receive blood from closely matched donors, but blood donations from these ethnic groups are disproportionately low.

New York Blood Center (NYBC), established in 1964, is the nation’s largest community-based blood collection and distribution organization. NYBC annually collects approximately 400,000 donations of blood and distributes more than 1 million units of blood and blood components to nearly 200 hospitals throughout the New York/New Jersey region. To ensure that the Center can support the region’s critical care services, it seeks to raise donation rates among blacks and Hispanics by 10% and 15% respectively through a comprehensive research, community outreach, education, and relationship-building project.

NYBC has engaged five trained outreach professionals in a culturally specific outreach effort to address myths and misperceptions about blood donation among blacks and Hispanics, promote awareness of its importance, build partnerships with communities and their leaders, and develop marketing materials for health literature. This approach has been successfully tested in Toronto and other locations, and diverges from NYBC’s traditional approaches that rely mainly on office-based blood drives.