African-American Brain Health Initiative

The Rutgers University-Newark African-American Brain Health Initiative (AABHI) is a unique university-community partnership between the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience and the Office of University-Community Partnerships. AABHI promotes brain health among African-American seniors in the Greater Newark, New Jersey area. By combining research, education, and community engagement, we seek to understand why African-Americans are at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, and other age-related brain health problems, and what we can do to help improve people’s memory and brain health.

The Office of University-Community Partnerships (OUCP) is responsible for the outreach component of AABHI. Through collaborations with churches, senior centers, public and federally-assisted housing, city, and county offices, we promote this culture of brain health through Brain Health Community Education/Awareness conferences, held on the Rutgers University-Newark campus, and through Lunch N’ Learn forums, hosted in the community.

The framework for the OUCP AABHI Outreach component is constructed around well–recognized best practices for community engagement/outreach for African American communities in order to achieve key project objectives of educating residents regarding brain-healthy lifestyle practices and Alzheimer’s awareness for seniors, and to recruit participants for the research component. Among its keystones are:

  • ensuring cultural competency among outreach staff
  • establishing respectful relationships with senior residents and those key community stakeholders serving their needs
  • ensuing culturally appropriate messaging,, materials, and strategies (e.g. community presentations)
  • identifying and engaging a cross-section of community partners who are committed to the health and well- being of seniors
  • including a cross sections of seniors and stakeholders in outreach planning, implementation (including recruitment and retention) and evaluation via the Community Advisory Board (CAB)

This model is designed to sustain the community educational work by cultivating and building new relationships with community representatives who are trained to provide the information sessions and recruit participants for the Zumba and memory studies. The OUCP AABHI Outreach Team is comprised of community members.

To date, our partners include 14 churches, 13 senior buildings and centers, 11 community organizations, 5 county, city and state offices, and 2 universities.

Community Partners

AABHI Community Advisory Board
Donna Sparks Bethany Baptist Church
Mary Dawkins Hillside Senior Recreation Center
Deacon Francis Dixon New Hope Baptist Church
Honorable Mildred Crump City of Newark City Council
Geri Woods-Coles Bethany Baptist Church
Mildred English St. James AME Church
Pastor Glenn Wilson Pilgrim Baptist Church
Robin Lateef-Pharms Bethany Senior Center
Reverend Dr. Jacqueline Reeves St. James AME Church
Sheltry Ward NJ Black Nurses Association
Jaklyn De Vore Essex County Office of Senior Services
Tania Cajuste East Orange Office of Senior Services
Joan Reeves East Orange Office of Senior Services
Yolanda Mack Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition/Jehovah-Jireh Praise and Worship Center
Louise Layton RU-NB Aging Advisory Council Member
Glenda Wright NJ Association Public and Subsidized Housing/Community Educator
Margaret Cammarieri American Heart Association | American Stroke Association
OUCP AABHI Outreach Team
Deacon Francis Dixon New Hope Baptist Church
Pastor Glenn Wilson Pilgrim Baptist Church
Reverend Dr. Jacqueline Reeves St. James AME Church
Glenda Wright NJ Association Public and Subsidized Housing/Community Educator
Louise Layton RU-NB Aging Advisory Council Member
Yolanda Mack Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition/Jehovah-Jireh Praise and Worship Center

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Media

Learn more about AABHI Conference
Learn more about AABHI and Community Partners
AABHI Community Exercise Program
AABHI Fellows | RU Grad School Newsletter
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Article Fall 2017 AAHI Event
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Go Seniors Go! Improving Brain Health through Physical Activity

Rutgers University-Newark’s African-American Brain Health Initiative (AABHI) is a unique university-community partnership promoting brain health among African-American seniors in the greater Newark area. AABHI is led by Mark Gluck, RU-N neuroscientist, and Diane Hill, assistant chancellor for university-community partnerships. One of AABHI’s featured programs is the annual “Go Seniors Go! Improving Brain Health through Physical Activity.” To find out more about AABHI, visit brainhealth.rutgers.edu.

Learn more about AABHI

For more information contact Deborah Flamengo at

dflameng@newark.rutgers.edu or (973) 353-1630.