The Multicultural Health Institute
677 North Washington Blvd.
Sarasota FL 34236

MHI was created to level the healthcare playing field by promoting, educating and ensuring equal healthcare access and treatment for underserved communities and individuals who are traditionally uninsured and receive a less than adequate quality of care.

Founded in 1995 by Lisa Merritt, MD, MHI focuses on health disparities, their effect on our nation's citizens and the positive economic impact of health education, nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The essence of MHI’s work embodies principles of service, empowerment and collective community effort. As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, MHI provides a holistic, full circle life cycle approach to healing and wellness by focusing on the participation, education and training of adults as well as offering hands-on enrichment experiences to aspiring and promising young people in the community.

CEO/Executive Director Dr. Lisa Merritt
Board Chair Dr. Lisa Merritt MD
Board Chair Affiliation Founder Multicultural Health Institute (MHI)
General Info
Organization DBA
Multicultural Health Institute (MHI)
The Multicultural Health Institute (MHI)
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 1998
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes Aug 2018
State Registration Yes June 2017
Financial Summary
Note: Revenue includes the value of in-kind contributions/donations
IRS Letter of Determination
IRS Letter of DeterminationView
Impact Statement

MHI is one of the few local nonprofit organizations that goes right into underserved communities, working with them "hands on" to promote wellness and health care that will lead to longer, healthier lives while, at the same time, helping to reduce costly health inequities through education and prevention.

Over the last ten years, by serving more than 30,000 people within Sarasota County's minority and underserved communities, MHI's impact has increased markedly through its adherence to these key core commitments:

· Health and wellness are viewed as an equal right for all.
· Cultural relevance and sensitivity are the cornerstones of all MHI projects and community involvement.
· MHI is dedicated to serving as a well respected comprehensive source of valuable and credible wellness, nutrition, cancer and obesity prevention information.
· MHI strives to maintain a persistent and positive presence in the community by conducting accessible ongoing health education initiatives, assessments and forums that address the entire life cycle, from children to senior citizens.
· All MHI programs are customized and created in collaboration with the respective communities it serves.
· MHI is dedicated to being a reliable partner with individuals as well as community institutions, including Newtown Wellness, HIV/AIDS Network of Southwest Florida, Health Equities Research Institute Collaborative, the Orange Blossom Community Garden, North County Library, New College, Booker High School, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Sarasota Memorial Hospital and both the Sarasota and Manatee Health Departments.
Needs Statement

1.Staffing & Fundraising

Over 98% of current funds are spent in direct program efforts and we are grateful for extensive and valuable in kind volunteer support. We are in need of administrative, fundraising, PR staff and a volunteer coordinator. Estimated cost > $100,000
Grant Writing $10,000
Event Coordinator $5,000 
Assistance with support, updating, disseminating information and events via our Web Page, Facebook, electronic Newsletter $12,000
Expansion of our educational/inspirational video blogs and documentation of community events $10,000
3.Program Efforts
Further training of Gatekeepers of Community Health and expansion of community health promotion education and prevention activities including: 
Ongoing health promotion and disease prevention activities $40,000
Health Leaders Internship/Scholarship program $15,000
Background Statement

 In the mid-nineties, Dr. Lisa Merritt, working as a physician with a racially and ethnically diverse patient roster, observed major differences in rates of diseases and patient treatment in underserved communities. She also found many patients confused about their health conditions, and unable to navigate and find help within the health care system. In 1995, to help address what we now call Health Care Disparities, Dr. Merritt founded the Multicultural Health Institute (MHI) in Sacramento, California, and recruited a team of doctors and community advocates. In 2000, MHI expanded its advocacy work to Atlanta, Georgia. Today, headquartered in Sarasota, Florida, MHI’s programs, research, and health education outreach has allowed it to forge partnerships with government entities, non-profit organizations, and community-based initiatives.

Areas Served
Areas Served
FL- Manatee
FL- Sarasota
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Health Care
Secondary Org Type Community Improvement, Capacity Building
Tertiary Org Type Youth Development
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President

Lisa Merritt. M.D., is a board-certified physiatrist, focusing on brain injury and pain management, including sports and work-related injuries in Sarasota, Florida. Over the past 25 years, she has been a passionate and unrelenting advocate for elimination of health disparities. In 1995, while managing her practice and serving as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of California Davis, Dr. Merritt founded the Multicultural Health Institute (MHI) in Sacramento, California, to focus attention on health disparities and the economic impact of prevention strategies. A former seven-year President of the Capitol Medical Society and Vice President of the Golden State Medical Society, Dr. Merritt was an original member of the California Office on Minority Health statewide multicultural health task force and originator of the initial policy on improving cultural and linguistics standards in health delivery in the State of California.

Moving to Sarasota in 2006, Dr. Merritt has had a major impact on health disparities in the in the Sarasota/Manatee area through her work at the Multicultural Health Institute and her medical practice as well as through two highly successful community initiatives which she created: the Sarasota Community Health Guide and the Gatekeepers, a consortium of lay health advisors and educators involved in neighborhood activities to reduce disparities in HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease through preventive health measures which include providing information on health coverage, health awareness and available health screenings.

She has authored numerous articles on multicultural health issues, physical medicine / rehabilitation and complementary medicine topics, and has also lectured both nationally and internationally on a variety of multicultural health issues. She is also regularly called upon by regional and national media to be interviewed as an expert on a variety of medical topics and issues. She also works on diversity nationally through her affiliation with NMA and locally in Florida to increase medical school student diversity and minority participation in clinical research. She has maintained academic appointments as Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at Morehouse School of Medicine and currently as Adjunct Assistant Professor at New College Florida.

Dr. Merritt has been the recipient of numerous professional and community service awards, most recently being honored with the  “True North toward Health Care Equity: Clinical, Policy and Social Determinants” award at the National Medical Association 17th Annual Health Policy Colloquium in Maryland. This award is in recognition of dedication, significant contribution and exemplary work in the community to increase the level of advocacy at State, Local and National Levels as a Health Policy Advocate. Attendees at the Colloquium included keynote speaker former HHS Secretary and Surgeon General, Dr. Louis Sullivan, as well as former and current NIH, medical school and national health policy and legislative leaders.

 She has also received the AMA Physicians Recognition Award, the YWCA Outstanding Woman Award for Health Services, the Sarasota Biz941 Unity Award in Medicine and Alumni Award in 2016, Fulton County Georgia Wellness Campaign Community Service Award, the Links, Inc. Community Recognition Award and the Newtown MLK Community Service Award.

She completed her undergraduate studies at Georgetown University and received her M.D. Degree from Howard University, trained in family and community medicine at University of California, San Francisco, and did her residency in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr. Merritt is a longstanding member of many professional organizations, including the National Medical Association (NMA), the American Medical Association (AMA), American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPMR), American Academy of Pain Management (AAPM), American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), and The American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine (AAAM). She is also a graduate of the faculty development program at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA and the Gulf Coast Leadership Institute in Venice, FL.

Statement from the CEO/Executive Director

MHI is a unique organization serving the Sarasota/Manatee region, committed to improving individuals' awareness of healthcare issues and reducing health inequities from a community-based perspective. By continuing to develop and implement programs that help to reduce health disparities, MHI's work also helps to reduce costs within our strained healthcare system. Its programs reach the working uninsured and serve to strengthen weak linkages and access to healthcare while building capacity and fostering greater community collaboration and partnership among related agencies and organizations within the region.


STEAM - Science Technology Education Arts Mathematics initiative re-introduces students to the real world of  Health Care through 'vocationally' visual, hands on experiences. STEAM directs our young people's naturally inquisitive minds towards career paths that build on their internet research abilities, enact literacy skills; and, with self-evaluation explore the healing arts and scientifically based career opportunities.  Programs include: MHI ScholarsPositive Aging Series, and Booker HS “Know No Bounds STEAM” mentoring

In 2015 MHI
· Hosted over 86 events
· Trained 40 volunteers who donated 3859 hours
· Reached approx. 1510 participants
· Mentored 20 middle/high school, college, and medical school students
· Provided 6 internships to middle/high school, college, and medical school students and 3 of our students were accepted to medical/graduate school programs, 1 waitlisted for medical school and 4 of our positive aging/know no bounds students are now in college science studies.
Budget $30,000
Category Education, General/Other Educational Programs
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Minorities Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Short Term Success

1. Didactic training in STEAM careers via inclusion of culturally representative speakers, student interview and research projects.(*)

2. MHI worked with BHS students to strengthen parental knowledge on college choices, the college orientation process, college preparation and application processes. 

3. MHI’s program helped increase student interest and attendance to various school and community-related college preparation and educational forums.

4. Format and exposure to increased health awareness and prevention practices by the students themselves form the understanding of science  within the field of medicine.

5. Increased understanding of updated CPR guidelines (Sign of stroke, heart attack and diabetic crises.)

Long Term Success

1. Inform students about STEM careers via culturally relevant and representative exchange with currently practicing/retired STEM professionals.

2. Enhance student self-confidence and capabilities to realize their potential through the development of mentoring relationships with seniors in the community.

3. Educate students regarding solutions to health inequities through wellness education.

4. Expand student understanding and effective utilization of technology to access STEM and health and wellness resources.

5. Improve student literacy and communication skills.

6. Increase success of college/technical school application process through facilitated parent/student educational workshops.

Program Success Monitoring

Managed by MHI Program Coordinator (PC), success is monitored by monthly reports documenting hours, number of sessions, educational activities and participants. Quarterly meetings are held with PC to review the program and make adjustments, if indicated, to stay on target towards anticipated goals. All participants and their parents/guardians complete pre/post participation evaluations (regarding knowledge base of STEM careers, nutrition and fitness). There is 100% accuracy in post evaluations. STEAM Mentoring Program highlights are summarized in an annual report.

Program Success Examples

“I was amazed by the facts that were presented. I truly love science and the medical aspect of the human body, so it was majorly fascinating to me. What struck me the most is how Florida is the 29th most obese state in the U.S. Even though it’s not in the top 10, it’s still horrifying. Obesity can lead to diabetes and, in a lot of cases, death. I learned that diabetes is a chronic disease that can affect the heart in destructive ways and can even lead to kidney failure. I especially liked learning about how our body gets glucose from carbohydrates.  All in all, I really enjoyed this session. It was very informative and fascinating.” – Nhi Nguyen, Senior, Booker High School

Description The program consist of a series of peer-led self-management group sessions to cover topics including stress management, brain health, nutrition, fitness, prevention of heart disease and cancer. The goal in these sessions is to provide health education and promote behavioral skills to help carry out the tasks necessary to live as well as possible. These skills include managing and monitoring symptoms, navigating health systems, and working with healthcare providers. The program will have a series of professionally-led group assemblies as well that will include guest speakers, stress management techniques, and group discussions to reach the goal of increasing health education. It is hoped with greater self-awareness and linkage to regular and culturally competent care, vulnerable populations will learn to blunt the effects of chronic disease; resulting in decreased burden on local emergency rooms and increased participation in  available effective programs offered in the community.
Budget $30,000
Category Health Care, General/Other Health Care Issues
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Adults At-Risk Populations Minorities
Short Term Success
1. Educate attendees on vital health topics, such as brain health, cardiovascular health, diabetes and nutrition, and cancer, and resources through discussions with professionals in related healthcare fields.
Long Term Success
1. Create a critical mass of well-informed lay people who will continue to serve as well informed resources of information for their communities.
2. Increase linkage to care and resources in the community.
Program Success Monitoring Managed by MHI Program Coordinator (PC), success is monitored by monthly reports documenting educational activities, speakers, number of participants as well as survey feedback after each event. Quarterly meetings are held with PC to review the program and make adjustments, if indicated, to stay on target towards anticipated goals.
Program Success Examples This project is based on previous award winning work Dr. Merritt was involved in with the CDC REACH Collaborative in Atlanta. For example, we have identified people with critically high blood pressures, linking them to care and supporting needed behavioral and lifestyle changes to help prevent complications such as stroke or heart attacks.
Program Comments by Organization

I have also been fascinated by traditional, more holistic, healing traditions, having studied and incorporated modalities such as acupuncture, herbalism, homeopathy into my own practice and educational programs. There is great potential to improve health outcomes, reduce health costs through culturally relevant and representative health education programs and by widening the pipeline for aspiring young people from underserved backgrounds to develop important skills and educational capabilities that they can eventually bring back to their communities.

We have consistently adhered to the principles of elevating health status in a community through improved health literacy and inspiring positive behavioral change at the grass roots level as well as elevating need and insuring cultural competence at every level of our health delivery system. Building capacity through training, education and peer level support have been key components and we are proud of the creation of the Gatekeepers of Community health as well as Allies for health who continue to speak to family, friends and co- workers wherever they are about important lifesaving health information. With greater support, we will be able to continue to make such important contributions and help train others to do so. Our work has momentum and has attracted an amazing array of volunteer and in-kind support.
CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director Dr. Lisa Merritt
CEO Term Start 0
CEO/Executive Director Email
Former CEOs/Executive Directors
Senior Staff
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 0
Part Time Staff 3
Staff Retention Rate % N/A
Professional Development Yes
Contractors 2
Volunteers 40
Management Reports to Board Yes
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation N/A
Non-Management Formal Evaluation No
MHI programs address needs assessed through its ongoing, culturally relevant, specialized, participatory research studies, training of Gatekeepers of Community Health, planning, and collaborations with churches and over 60 Community Based Organizations. As a result of this systematic approach, MHI is a trusted ally of community residents and leaders; increases the capacity of the community to respond to various health dilemmas; confirms local support on the design of initiatives that discover negative health disparities; heightens awareness of negative health impacts; and executes action plans that target solutions exactly where they’re needed.
External Assessments and Accreditations
Awards & Recognition
2012 Unity award - Medical categoryBiz941 Magazine2012
Community Service AwardGenesis Health Services2008
Innovation Recognition AwardWEDU Television Station - Sarasota & Bradenton, Florida2007
Community Service AwardHealthy Start2010
Community Service AwardNewtown, Florida Martin Luther King Celebration Committee2012
Youth Empowerment AwardThe Links2008
Concerns of Women Physicians Award: Woman in Medicine AwardNational Medical Association Council2014
Alumni Unity941CEO2016
“True North toward Health Care Equity: Clinical, Policy and Social Determinants”National Medical Association2016
Risk Management Provisions
General Property Coverage
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government No
Fundraising Plan Yes
Communication Plan No
Strategic Plan No
Strategic Plan Years
Strategic Plan Adopted 0
Management Succession Plan No
Continuity of Operations Plan No
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Policies and Procedures No
Management Comments by Organization

It has been a moving journey to found and lead our organization through several different stages of evolution since the mid-1990s. As a member of the first Multicultural health task force for the Office of Minority Health in the State of California, I observed first hand the many challenges facing communities throughout the state as they shared their poignant stories at our numerous town halls. As a Spanish speaking health provider, I also was acutely aware of the differential type of care received by different patient groups and the need for cultural and linguistic competency. This was further fueled by the findings by the Institute of Medicine in its landmark report on Separate and Unequal Health Care, which revealed less aggressive, less comprehensive care was being received by patients based solely on race, not insurance or economic status or even educational level.

I have also been fascinated by traditional, more holistic, healing traditions, having studied and incorporated modalities such as acupuncture, herbalism, homeopathy into my own practice with impressive results and positive response to educational programs in those areas.
There is great potential to improve health outcomes, reduce healthcare costs through culturally relevant and representative health education programs and by widening the pipeline for aspiring young people from underserved backgrounds to develop important skills and educational capabilities that they can eventually bring back to their communities.
Multi-Media Comments by Organization
Additional MHI videos of interest:
1. MHI - Biz941 Acceptance award:
2. MHI - SNN: Institute For the Ages co-hosts 7th annual international conference on positive aging: 
3.  MHI - Health IQ Radio Talk:  
4. MHI - Welleness philosophy:
5. MHI - STEM philosophy:
6. MHI - Obesity epidemic philosophy:
7. MHI - Economic impact of health reform:
8. MHI - Using Community Assessments to eliminate health disparities
9. MHI - Vision:
Board Chair
Board Chair Dr. Lisa Merritt MD
Company Affiliation Founder Multicultural Health Institute (MHI)
Board Term Mar 1998 to Dec 2020
Board Chair Email
Board Members
Board Members
William G. Cromwell Carter Cromwell Law Group
Mrs. Carolyn A. Fitzpatrick Banking Executive (Ret.); Sarasota County Community Foundation (Board of Directors)
Dr. Washington Hill MDPhysician
Dr. Lisa Merritt MDKinesia Rehabilitation Group, Founder Multicultural Health Institute (MHI)
Dr. Dolores Jean Penn Ph.D.Community Volunteer
Dr. Teresa Pettersen MD, MPAClinical Instructor, LECOM
Mr. Curtis Yew CPAOwner, CPA, Inc.
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Board Ethnicity
African American/Black 4
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 1
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Gender
Male 3
Female 4
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 4
Board Term Limits 99
Board Orientation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Board Meeting Attendance % 46
Board Self-Evaluation No
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Board Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 100
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Current Year Projections
Tax Year Start Month Jan
Tax Year Start Day 01
Tax Year Begins 2017
Tax Year End Month Dec
Tax Year End Day 31
Tax Year Ends 2017
Projected Revenue $50,000.00
Projected Expenses $48,000.00
Organization has Endowment No
Capital Campaign
Currently In a Capital Campaign No
Anticipate Campaign within 5 years? Yes
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
Audit/Financial Documents
Financial Review
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$46,093$22,515$18,592
Administration Expense$21,065$7$4,739
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.911.751.03
Program Expense/Total Expenses69%100%80%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$34,553$40,557$23,236
Current Assets$21,140$34,500$9,117
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$376$377$0
Total Net Assets$34,177$40,180$23,236
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $52,297Contributions, gifts, grants $23,700Program Service Revenue $14,008
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountProgram Service Revenue $8,858Program Service Revenue $15,766Contributions, gifts, grants $10,000
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount0 $00 $00 $0
CEO/Executive Director Compensation
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities56.2291.51--
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Organization We have a CPA on our board and recently have expanded our board to include members with extensive backgrounds in business leadership. We are implementing all suggested improvements made by our advisors.
Financial Comments by Foundation Financial figures were taken from the 990-EZ.  No audit information provided.
Nonprofit The Multicultural Health Institute
Address 677 North Washington Blvd.
Sarasota, FL 34232
Phone 941 225-8198 102