The Dr. Richard Izquierdo Medical Scholarship @ CUNY School of Medicine is given to a NYC resident enrolled in the medical program at the CUNY School of Medicine who has shown leadership in their efforts to eliminate inequities in medical education and health care. Students must also demonstrate leadership initiative in addressing educational, societal and health care needs of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. The scholarship is awarded annually at the CUNY School of Medicine graduation.
Education is the great equalizer, but low-income communities in New York City often face the challenge of underfunded and overcrowded schools. The Foundation for Urban Health and Wellbeing supports education programs that increase admission to and retention in colleges and
Where we live, play, learn and work greatly impacts our physical health. Unfortunately, many communities of color do not have access to healthy food, adequate housing, jobs with a living wage, safe places to play and quality schools for our children. All these barriers prevent the residents of these communities from thriving and living healthy lives. The Foundation for Urban Health and Wellbeing supports programs that address these barriers and help create healthier communities.
Dr. Richard Izquierdo, affectionately known as “Doc” was born in East Harlem on October 23, 1929, to Serafin and Sinda Izquierdo, one of New York City’s original “bodegueros.” From an early age, he knew that he wanted to be a doctor and spent his entire life dedicated to serving his beloved South Bronx. His relentless commitment to serve the health needs of the South Bronx community encompassed a vision of providing comprehensive services and much of what he tried to integrate into medical care and structure in his own practice early in his career, are generally accepted practices today.
Doc graduated from the University of Lausanne Medical School in Switzerland in 1957 and completed his internship and residency programs in pediatrics at Fordham Hospital and post-
graduate courses at New York University. From the moment he opened his first practice, Doc dedicated himself to ensuring that his community received quality, equitable care. In 1967 he purchased an abandoned building on Southern Boulevard and Westchester Avenue to create the San Juan Health Center, which operated until 1974, when it became Urban Health Plan, Inc., a federally qualified community health center licensed by New York State. Today Urban Health Plan is a system of community health centers throughout the Bronx, in Corona Queens and in Central Harlem, serving more than 90,000 individuals each year.
His commitment to health access continued throughout his lifetime and in 2010, he and his daughter founded the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School for minority youth in the South Bronx. His dream was to create a pipeline of health care workers reflective of his community and to provide a quality education that would help students enter and remain in college. The school prepares students for jobs in the health care sector, including Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification.
Doc recognized that there were numerous factors that impacted the health of his community years before the phrase social determinants of health was coined. A fierce advocate for racial and social justice, he led the fight for changes in his community as the first chairman of Bronx Community Board 12 and then as chairman of the 41 st Precinct Community Council, where he served for fourteen years. He hosted a radio program called “Puerto Rican Panorama” on NBC to highlight the contributions of Puerto Ricans where he interviewed over 150 prominent Puerto Ricans.
Doc was an active member of the Bronx Medical Society and the Medical Society of the State of New York, as well as the Spanish American Medical-Dental Society since 1962. He served on the board of the Association for the Help of Retarded Children for over 20 years, in honor of his third child, Jackie, who was born with Down’s Syndrome.
Doc received numerous accolades throughout his lifetime, including the Surgeon General’s Medallion, the highest honor bestowed on a civilian, from the 17th Surgeon General of the
United States, Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS and the Maclovio Barraza Award for Leadership from UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza). The award recognizes those who have worked for the betterment of the Hispanic community at the grassroots level and whose leadership has served as a source of strength and support to the Hispanic
community. In May 2018, the corner of Southern Boulevard and Westchester Avenue, in front of the former San Juan Health Center and the corner that began Urban Health Plan, was co-named in his honor.
The Foundation for Urban Health and Wellbeing’s annual golf outing is held in May at Leewood Golf Club. Proceeds from the outing support scholarships and nutrition education.