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The Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment (AHW), a statewide health philanthropy based at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), has announced a $230,000 funding award to support a coalition of partners in increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates in Milwaukee County, with a focus on 10 highly impacted and high-risk ZIP codes.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the systemic disparities in health equity that exist based on race and ethnicity in our state that have had a significant impact in Milwaukee County in particular,” said Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, director of the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment and senior associate dean at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “To address these disparities, we aim to support the expansion of work to reach Milwaukee County’s highly impacted and vulnerable residents while building a model that can inform continuing efforts across the state.”

The six-month funding award will support a coalition of local partners that includes the Medical College of Wisconsin working alongside Milwaukee County, Milwaukee Health Care Partnership, Jump at the Sun Consultants, Inpower, and 2-Story. The award will expand upon efforts underway through the Milwaukee County Unified Emergency Operations Center, which includes membership from Milwaukee County and its eleven public health municipalities, regional health systems, community health centers, and community-based and social service organizations.

“Vaccination rates in high-vulnerability communities across Milwaukee County lag vaccination rates in our higher resource communities,” said Ben Weston, MD, MPH, associate professor in the MCW Department of Emergency Medicine and director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management. “Through this investment, we will expand a hyper-local outreach strategy where trusted community mobilizers will reach residents where they live while authentic voices of our community will be amplified through social media and traditional media outreach to increase awareness of COVID-19 vaccine resources and information.”

The award adds to the more than $4.8 million in rapid-response grants AHW awarded to support COVID-19 response and recovery in Wisconsin in 2020.