Children's Minnesota plans to use a $3 million grant to increase pediatric access to asthma care, vaccinations and mental health screenings in underserved communities.

The three-year partnership with United Health Foundation, announced on Friday, aims to reduce health disparities among patients. Children's is the largest pediatric healthcare provider in the state.

Black children in underserved Twin Cities neighborhoods are less likely to get appropriate care to control asthma, complete routine childhood vaccines and receive adolescent mental health screenings, according to pediatric health statistics collected by Children's Minnesota.

"This grant is really helping us accelerate our work to close that gap," said Dr. Jeffrey Simmons, vice president and chief value officer at Children's Minnesota.

The grant will help Children's explore ways to provide care to underserved children by connecting with families at community health centers, schools, and health events, he said.

Children's Community Connect program helps families in the Twin Cities access community resources, such as food pantries, legal assistance and early childhood education. Since 2017, about 8,000 families have enrolled in the program.

"This grant can help us expand our ability to connect with more families," Simmons said.

United Health Foundation is the philanthropic foundation of Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group.

"Together with Children's Minnesota and other community partners, the United Health Foundation is committed to reducing health disparities, increasing access to care and improving outcomes for underserved children and their families," said Victor Fields, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Minnesota's chief executive.