Community Coalition spotlight: Seven Star Academy

Community Coalition spotlight: Seven Star Academy

Seven Star Academy, Inc. a non-profit organization located in New Orleans, Louisana, is a Forge AHEAD Center Community Coalition partner.

Founded in 2018, Seven Star Academy, Inc. aims to increase the health and wellness of local communities through health literacy and education, participation in research, and healthy program enrollment.

Nelson Lemieux is the executive director of Seven Star Academy, Inc. and says that the partnership between Forge AHEAD Center and Seven Star Academy will ultimately increase the impact of their efforts. He and Dr. KiTani Lemieux, who is also a Forge AHEAD Center Community Advisory Board member, direct and manage Seven Star Academy, Inc.

Health literacy as an avenue for justice

“Seven Star Academy, Inc. works with partners that are like-minded in their missions,” says Nelson Lemieux. “Forge AHEAD is committed to improving health equity in the Deep South. Seven Star Academy is committed to addressing health disparities with a social justice lens.”

Lemieux explains that Seven Star Academy, Inc. diligently seeks like-minded organizations to partner with, and they seek social justice through health equity for those who are underrepresented in the biomedical community.

They engage underrepresented communities in science and research by enrolling participants in the All of Us Research Program, offering educational events on research participation, hosting vaccine awareness events, and more.

“Our grassroots approach in providing health literacy information and education has heightened awareness for wellness in the communities that we serve,” says Lemieux.

Looking towards the future

Increasing Seven Star Academy’s visibility and expanding reach with additional resources for community education efforts is essential to the organization.

Both Seven Star Academy, Inc. and Forge AHEAD Center are excited about the shared community partnerships. “We want to be a part of a community-driven solution that is sustainable,” Lemieux says.

Visit their Facebook page for more information.

LEAD Early Program hosts successful meeting with Birmingham partners

LEAD Early Program hosts successful meeting with Birmingham partners


Forge AHEAD Center recently partnered with the City of Birmingham Dept. of Youth Services LEAD Early Program to support community leaders as they discussed national and local solutions to close disparity gaps in maternal and child health.

The cohort of community leaders, educators and health equity champions were energized and inspiring, sharing personal stories, triumphs, and opportunities in pursuit of equitable, healthy and thriving communities for all.

Children’s of Alabama Pediatric Intake Response Center (PIRC) Director, Cynthia Jones, delivered the keynote address highlighting social determinants of health and the mental health implications for children and teens.

Forge AHEAD Center scholar, Dr. Camille Schneider Worthington, discussed her pilot project: utilizing meal delivery services for expectant mothers to reduce cardio metabolic disease.

Community Advisory Board member and JXN People’s Assembly Director, Brooke Floyd, shared her passion for providing equitable resources and advocating for families in Jackson, MS.

And, Dr. Felicia Fortune, CEO of KidsXpress Urgent Care, discussed the importance and access to routine care for children.

Rauslyn Adams, MSW, and Lorren, from Chocolate Milk Mommies, and Dalia Abrams, with Birthwell Partners discussed their work supporting expectant and breastfeeding mothers.

Community Coalition spotlight: Community Care Development Network

Community Coalition spotlight: Community Care Development Network


Forge AHEAD Center (FAC) and Community Care Development Network (CCDN) in Alabama have embarked on a collaborative partnership aimed at reshaping the landscape of food security and fostering equitable change.

CCDN is a network dedicated to helping solve community challenges such as youth peer pressure, adult conflict, communication and financial barriers, and life skills—among others—by offering support services in the areas of education, family, and community outreach.

A partnership focus on long-term change

The partnership between FAC and CCDN brings together the expertise, resources, and shared vision of two entities dedicated to uplifting communities and enhancing livelihoods.

Forge AHEAD Center’s focus on health equity research and community health aligns seamlessly with CCDN’s commitment to providing comprehensive support networks for underserved populations.

“FAC benefits and adds value to CCDN as we enter a research space for food insecurity and health disparities,” says Tamika D. Holmes, MBA, MHRM, founder and director of Community Care Development Network.

CCDN’s mission is to develop, transform, and restore life to families, adults, teens, and the community to be committed, unified, and mature. Their vision is empowering and influencing people to own their potential and create an opportunity for themselves.

When working with external partners, Holmes says one of the most important goals is to ensure external partners fit this mission and vision.

“This also helps us to determine the strength of the partnership and the output of the work both CCDN and partners have the capability to perform. Another important goal is that external partners should focus on the community’s best interests. This comes by interacting with the community to learn the best ways to serve the community.”

Working together

At the heart of the partnership lies a mutual understanding of the multifaceted challenges faced by communities—ranging from economic disparities to limited access to education and health care.

By combining strengths, Forge AHEAD Center and CCDN aim to address these challenges comprehensively, employing a holistic approach that considers the diverse needs of individuals and communities.

“We are currently operating several community food hubs in various locations of Jefferson County and one in Blount County,” says Holmes. “The growth towards research will help us provide better quality of food in the locations that are food insecure. In addition, the community engagement component helps voices to be heard clearly.”

Moreover, the collaboration extends beyond education, encompassing health care initiatives and social support systems. CCDN’s experience in providing services dovetails with Forge AHEAD Center’s mission to ensure access to quality health care for all. Together, they will strive to bridge gaps in healthcare access.

Shared commitment for the future

The synergy between Forge AHEAD Center and CCDN signifies a shared commitment healthy futures for all communities.

“CCDN is in the process of introducing our food insecurity project to various partners, including FAC,” says Holmes. “We are excited about the continued progress of meeting the community’s needs in this capacity, as we know that food is a primary need. We look forward to many robust conversations on how to make an impact in the food insecurity arena.”

As this partnership continues to evolve, its impact reverberates through communities, creating a brighter, more inclusive future. By working hand in hand, Forge AHEAD Center and CCDN exemplify the profound impact that collaboration and shared vision can have in building stronger, more resilient communities for generations to come.