Wisconsin Partnership Program: Announces awards to health equity initiatives

(MADISON, Wis) – The Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health has announced its 2019 Community Impact Grant awards for initiatives working to improve health and health equity across Wisconsin. The grants support cross-sector collaborations that are addressing a broad range of issues that impact community health.

“The health of a community, like a building, depends on a strong and stable foundation,” says Dr. Amy Kind, associate professor of medicine and chair of the Partnership Program’s Oversight and Advisory Committee. “We know access to healthy food, access to healthcare, quality education and strong social supports are a few of the many factors that strengthen this foundation and contribute to positive health outcomes for everyone.” Says Kind, “We look forward to supporting these diverse initiatives and partners, across many sectors, who are working to improve health across our state.”

Grants of $1 million each, over five years, were awarded to the following initiatives:

Community-Campus Partnership to Strengthen Mental Health Services for Madison’s Latino Community, Centro Hispano of Dane County

Nationally and in Wisconsin, there is a void of culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services for diverse populations. This threatens the well-being of Dane County’s Latino community, whose members face significant challenges to their mental health from the psychological stress associated with racial, cultural and linguistic isolation and stigmatization. The Community Impact Grant awarded to Centro Hispano of Dane County and its academic and community partners will advance the quality of accessible linguistically and culturally competent services that support the mental health of the Latino community in Dane County. This project will help increase the number of trained professionals to serve Latino communities through a partnership with UW-Madison School of Education, specifically for native Spanish heritage speakers. The new program will be contextualized within community needs, and will address the public health need for a sufficient and capable workforce, through the training and supervision of Spanish speaking Latino UW-Madison School of Education students.  The community-university partnership will also support expansion of community programs, bi-directional training, and evaluation that is respectful of community wellness and well-being. The ultimate goal is to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services that strengthen the public health workforce grounded in the resilience and mental wellness needs of Dane County’s Latino community.

Creating a Renewed and Culturally Vibrant Healthy Food System for Kaeyas Mamaceqtawak, Menominee Nation

The Menominee Nation call themselves “Kaeyas Mamaceqtawak” meaning “the Ancient Ones” or “Ancient Movers,” describing their ancient subsistence life, moving with the seasons from ricing, fishing, maple syrup, gardening and hunting across their ancestral homelands; observers called them “Menominee,” meaning “People of the Wild Rice.” In the span of the last 100 years, however, the community has experienced severely limited access to healthy foods, with a dramatic increase in Type 2 diabetes and coronary heart diseases that occur at a disproportionately higher rate compared to the state’s average. Through this initiative, the Menominee Tribe and its Department of Agriculture and Food Systems will create a renewed food system by focusing on access to healthy food, agricultural best practices, raising livestock, Menominee cultural teachings and peer support. The initiative will work to assert tribal sovereignty through the customization of a Menominee Food Code, beginning with food safety regulation of traditional tribal food systems, while promoting healthy food consumption and economic development. By reclaiming a tribally driven food system, the initiative will support a healthy and culturally vibrant Menominee Nation.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of One City Schools: Preparing Children for School Success and Healthy Lives, One City Schools

Education is a building block of healthy communities. When people have access to quality educational opportunities, families and communities thrive. A grant to One City Schools supports the school’s work to advance health equity through an innovative model of early child education. One City will use the funding to develop a rigorous longitudinal evaluation of the school’s novel approach—which includes how it trains staff, engages parents and the larger community, and prepares its young children—to better illustrate how its model of early childhood education and family involvement can close educational and health gaps. Findings will be used to inform expansion of the preschool, inform the fields of early childhood education, and help support public policy and system changes around early childhood education. 

Parenting Support Is Public Health: Reducing Health Disparities in the Child Welfare System

The Parenting Network

This Community Impact Grant to The Parenting Network supports an initiative that will promote a public health approach to family support in order to address family stress and instability that is experienced by families in some of Milwaukee’s most vulnerable communities. By doing so, the initiative will address the disproportionate rates of African American families being referred to Child Protective Services in Milwaukee and will concurrently address support for parents. Through this grant, the initiative ultimately aims to improve health outcomes for children by building an integrated system of prevention, intervention and treatment services to strengthen families and help reduce the rates of African American children in the Milwaukee child welfare system.

Improving Birth Outcomes for Black Families through Community-Clinic Collaborations, United Way of Dane County

The United Way of Dane County and its partners at the Dane County Health Council will develop a model of care coordination aimed at reducing disparities in African American birth outcomes by improving how health systems and social services engage with African American families. The initiative will focus on four priorities: implement a universal risk screener; support leadership by Black families; train community health workers and doulas to partner with health system care teams; and coordinate clinical and community referrals and resources. The initiative’s long-term goal is to eliminate racial disparities in infant mortality and low birthweight as well as support overall family well-being.

Healthy Communities through WEESSN-Milwaukee: Supporting Quality Early Learning and Family Well-Being, Wisconsin Early Childhood Association

High-quality early childhood education is an evidence-based intervention proven to reduce the risk of health disparities like heart disease, drug and alcohol abuse and teen pregnancies.The lack of quality early care and education options has resulted in an achievement gap seen in children as early as eighteen months old with lower neurological, cognitive and social emotional development. With this Community Impact Grant, the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA) and its partners, including childcare providers and parents, will develop The Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN)Milwaukee initiative to strengthen the quality and continuity of local child care providers in the most under-resourced areas of Milwaukee. The initiative will work to stabilize child care by connecting family and group child care programs to pool resources and capitalize on economies of scale and expertise. By sharing resources, knowledge, and staffing, child care programs can build capacity in their caregiving, and improve outcomes for young children and their families. WEESSN-Milwaukee will promote and sustain more accessible, high-quality early care and education opportunities, ultimately benefiting children, working parents, child care providers and their communities.

The Wisconsin Partnership Program at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health is committed to improving the health of Wisconsin residents through investments in research, education and community partnerships. The Partnership Program was established in 2004 with funds from the conversion of Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin to a for-profit corporation. To date, the Program has awarded 491 research, education and community grants totaling more than $230 million.