The Wisconsin Partnership Program announced last week it will award six community health equity initiatives with a total of $6 million in grants over the next five years.
Each year, the program awards the Community Impact Grant to various initiatives that intend to facilitate community-academic partnerships established to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities across the state.
The Wisconsin Partnership Program, an arm of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, aims to foster the goal of ensuring long-term health and wellbeing for the people of Wisconsin. Established in 2004, the program has awarded 539 research, education and community grants to Wisconsin-based initiatives, totaling well over $254 million dollars.
Amy Kind, MD, PhD — Chair of the Wisconsin Partnership Program’s Oversight and Advisory Committee — notes that many of the chosen initiatives highlight ways in which the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasized systemic and institutional disparities regarding health and well-being across different communities in Wisconsin.
Accelerating Health Equity for Black Women in Wisconsin
The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit that advocates for the health and wellness of Black women, created the Well Black Women Institute (WBWI). The institute strives to better connect, train and empower Black women in an effort to improve living conditions. The WBWI also seeks to better prepare Black women to be health equity leaders while addressing the health and birth rate disparities that affect Black women across the state.
In Wisconsin and across the United States, Black women have higher infant mortality rates, higher death rates and lower life expectancies than other women. Widespread, systemic racism as well as economic inequality and instability can have a significant negative influence on the mental and physical health (i.e. chronic stress) of Black women and families. This initiative hopes to empower Black women to be strong advocates for their own well-beings, health and safety.
The Population Health Institute is the academic partner for this initiative.
Addressing Stressors, Preventing Farmer Suicide: Social Connectedness and Health
The Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program will use this grant to obtain the resources needed to better address the mental health crisis facing Wisconsin farmers. The program hopes to reduce the risk of suicide among the farmer population by developing and promoting a large-scale system of interventions, providing support to the community and fostering resilience.
“Stressors like farm foreclosures, weather events, supply chain breaks and the COVID-19 pandemic threaten their health and well-being,” says a news release from the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
The strengthening of social connections within rural communities is crucial to this initiative. Moreover, further educating farmers about financial issues and making mental health services more accessible and acceptable are also intrinsic to this program’s plan.
The UW-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Science and the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies are listed as the academic partnerships for this initiative.
Advancing Health Equity Through Legal Interventions for Low-Income Wisconsites
Economic Justice Institute, Inc. at the UW-Madison Law School and Legal Interventions for Transforming Wisconsin (LIFT Wisconsin), Racine County (LIFT Racine) and Dane County (LIFT Dane) collaborate through this initiative to address civil legal injustices and population health. The initiative combines both community-based programming and technology to better address legal issues that impede good health and well-being, as well as consistent employment and economic stability.
This initiative hopes to transfigure the legal aid system, court procedures and policy environment in order to promote uniformity and better health and well-being across the state of Wisconsin. More legal resources will be made available to Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities throughout Dane County, Racine County and across the state.
Black Men’s Mental Health and Well-Being
The Rebalanced Life Wellness Association and the Urban League of Greater Madison are addressing the mental health of Black men in Southeastern Wisconsin through the Black Men’s Mental Health and Well-Being initiative. This initiative, created by and for Black men, hopes to promote the mental and emotional health of Black men across the region.
The initiative addresses health inequities across Wisconsin and stresses the need to destigmatize mental health and mental health issues in the Black community. The Rebalanced Life Wellness Association and the Urban League of Greater Madison hope to provide more mental health services and highlight the history of health inequity and its influence on Black men specifically.
Building Tech Skills, Opportunities, Health and Wellness for Returning Citizens
YMCA Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections strive to aid previously incarcerated individuals by teaching important technology skills and employment training, and creating network opportunities with the intention of helping recently released prisoners reach economic stability.
Individuals with a history of incarceration often face more mental and physical health issues than the general population, and this initiative hopes to better address this issue. The initiative also provides support for individuals and their families through restorative justice programming in addition to the overarching goal of economic stability.
Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies is the academic partner for this initiative.
Supporting Social Emotional Health in K-12 African American Students
The McFarland School District aims to make considerable, long-term impacts on the social and emotional health of Black students across the suburban school district.
When comparing academic achievement among its schools, the McFarland school district has identified disparities between the health measures of Black and white students. To better address this gap, the district is implementing and expanding the Natural Circles of Support program with hopes of eliminating the constraints and conditions that promote racial disparities throughout the school district.
The McFarland School District will partner with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.