Public Health Workforce: Step-UP Pipelines

Hispanic and Latino populations comprise the largest minority group in the United States—18.5% of the overall population. However, in 2020, Hispanic and Latino professionals made up just 12.7% of the state and local public health workforce.

Step UP Pipelines

To address this lack of representation of Hispanic and Latino professionals in the public health workforce, SOPHE launched the Step-UP Pipelines Program.

Increasing Hispanic and Latino representation is a critical step to address racial health inequities. A workforce that represents the population they serve is better equipped to meet the needs of a diverse community.

SOPHE’s Step-Up Pipelines Program

The Step-Up Pipelines Program

The Step-Up Pipelines Program encourages Hispanic and Latino students to pursue undergraduate degrees in public health and health education.

The program provides students with the opportunity:

  • To learn more about the public health and health promotion field.
  • To explore a variety of career options.
  • To develop personal and professional skills.

A cohort of Hispanic and Latino undergraduate students from six partner Hispanic Serving Institutions, listed below, participate in the program each year:

Students attend live and asynchronous sessions. Participants are also paired with an individual mentor and are encouraged to attend local SOPHE Chapter events. Students receive a stipend and a SOPHE membership for one year for their participation.


Mentorship is an important component of the program. Mentors regularly meet with participants to further increase engagement.

Who is a mentor? Current SOPHE members (national or chapter) interested in empowering the next generation of leaders in public health and health education.

A mentor must commit to meet their mentee via Zoom for one academic year, 2-4 hours per month.

Step-Up Pipelines Goals & Outcomes

The overarching goal is to develop a customizable roadmap that Hispanic Serving Institutions can use to pique interest, raise awareness, encourage commitment, and mentor Hispanic and Latino students to pursue degrees and/or careers in public health education.

Long, Intermediate & Short-term Goals

Long-term goals

Increase diversity in the public health workforce and leadership

Increase diversity in SOPHE membership.

Intermediate-term goals

Students will become SOPHE members (local and/or national) beyond the program’s duration.

Students and mentors will develop meaningful relationships.


Students will obtain associate’s or bachelor’s degrees.

Students will pursue additional public health education opportunities and trainings (transferring, internships, certificates, CHES®, jobs).

Short-term goals

Students will demonstrate:

Increased interest in public health education.

Increased awareness of public health education career opportunities, including public health education.

Increased awareness of public health education concepts, including health equity.

Personal and professional development.

Students will be engaged, active SOPHE members for the duration of the program.

Step-Up Pipelines Program Pilot Year Report

The Pilot Year Evaluations Report provides an overview of SOPHE’s Step-Up Pipelines Program, the evaluations, and recommendations from the pilot year that took place from October 2022 through May 2023.

Student Expectations and Outcomes

At the end of the nine-month program, students will report:

  • Attending monthly Step-Up Program virtual sessions addressing health education, public health, professional development, and related topics.
    • Students are expected to attend at least seven out of the nine scheduled sessions or alert SOPHE staff of any scheduling conflicts.
  • Meeting with a SOPHE mentor monthly (or more frequently) to discuss personal and professional development.
    a. Students will work with their mentor to develop and complete a professional resume or CV by the end of the program.
  • Having an opportunity to apply for funding and attend the 2024 SOPHE Annual Conference in March 2024 (St. Louis, MO).
  • Developing and facilitating a presentation at the Step-Up Closing Symposium in May 2024. Presentations may focus on a public health topic of interest, mentor-mentee relationships, or attendance at the 2024 SOPHE Annual Conference.
  • Engaging with local SOPHE Chapter events and activities.
  • Completing SOPHE surveys and being responsive to staff inquiries throughout the program term.

Step-Up Student Reflections

In March of 2023, four Step-Up students attended the 2023 SOPHE Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA. Students attended plenary sessions and presentations and had opportunities to network with public health and health education professionals. Read excerpts from their reflections below:

“…Meeting with [other Step-Up students] felt like we had known each other for years. The connection grew stronger as we discussed our backgrounds, aspirations, and life experiences.”

“I can understand the importance of health equity and by working together with others who have common goals can make an impactful difference in the lives of those in need…To conclude, my experience at the conference was an amazing experience and it is one that I will never forget. I was able to connect with other students in my group and to hear that we shared common struggles in life, some of us came from teenage parents, poverty, first generation college students and so on…I will use this experience and knowledge to help me push through school so that I can reach my full potential in a rewarding and exciting career where I am making a difference in the lives of my community and people.”

2022-2023 Step-Up Student

“I gained so much knowledge and skills from other individuals. I gained skills that I will need to be successful in my future career as a health educator…All the individuals I had conversations with literally shared the same motive as me…to make a change in our communities and in the health care system.”

2022-2023 Step-Up Student

At Atlanta’s SOPHE conference, I felt safe, happy, and comfortable being around SOPHE’S team. We valued and respected each other’s opinions and advice during our conversations. Many of us talked about our identity, who we are, the purpose of being there, and the meaning of life. This helped me understand why I was there and how to do more for the community and become well equipped to provide better professional development in my career.

2022-2023 Step-Up Student

For more information about SOPHE’s Step-Up Program, email