Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment awards $4.8 million in grants to support COVID-19 response

17 projects funded

Medical College of Wisconsin

Last updated on May 11th, 2020 at 11:33 am

The Wauwatosa-based Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment has awarded nearly $4.8 million in grants to 17 projects that are working to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus across Wisconsin.

The endowment, based at the Medical College of Wisconsin, announced in March it was making $5 million available to support Wisconsin’s response to COVID-19.

“As part of our commitment to protect the health of people across Wisconsin, this emergency funding was announced to support immediate actions that focus on prevention, risk reduction, and minimizing the transmission of COVID-19,” said Jesse Ehrenfeld, director of the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment and senior associate dean at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “The projects selected are laudable in how they will address critical and urgent needs, reach vulnerable populations, and help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our state.”

Among the funded projects are: 

  • $508,388 to support the MCW Center for Advancing Population Science in establishing a program to educate and test elderly African-American residents living in senior housing, assisted living, nursing homes or homeless shelters in Milwaukee.
  • $500,000 to support the city of Milwaukee Health Department in improving communication of prevention guidelines to communities of color in Milwaukee County and piloting online training for community health workers and public health outreach personnel to respond to the mental health and wellbeing needs among these communities.
  • $498,931 to support the MCW Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Medicine in implementing a social media outreach effort to increase COVID-19 prevention, stigma-reduction and coping steps.
  • $489,059 to support the MCW Department of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases in providing health care workers in Wisconsin nursing homes with custom-made face masks and determining their impact in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
  • $382,664 to support the MCW and Versiti Wisconsin, Inc. in a joint effort to identify, obtain, and provide convalescent plasma from recovered patients with COVID-19 to patients with active disease and, as a prevention effort, to front-line health care workers.
  • $313,792 to support Concordia University of Wisconsin in scaling up the ability to produce personal protective equipment for medical professionals and law enforcement first responders in the Milwaukee area.
  • $246,406 to support the Wisconsin Association of Free & Charitable Clinics in Implementing a telehealth infrastructure across Wisconsin’s safety-net provider clinics to continue services for vulnerable populations and prevent patients from accessing emergency departments for routine care.
  • $145,168 to support the MCW Institute for Health & Equity in developing epidemiological data projections for Milwaukee County to enable health experts and local leaders to respond in real time to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • $144,171 to support the MCW Department of Medicine in assessing whether COVID-19 patients could be transmitting disease via their stool to better understand and prevent the spread of the virus.
  • $144,086 to support the MCW Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and Center for Advancing Population Science in promoting key behaviors such as proper hand hygiene to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to patients at high risk for serious illness.
  • $97,594 to support the MCW Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine in providing culturally competent services and information for individuals who are transgender in preventing COVID-19. 
  • $33,290 to support the Hmong American Friendship Association in producing and disseminating a series of culturally responsive educational videos for Hmong residents across Wisconsin to provide critical information that can prevent COVID-19’s spread.

AHW is a statewide health philanthropy established by MCW, in stewardship of a Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin gift, to support health research, the health care and public health workforce, and community health initiatives. The endowment was established by MCW in 2004 to receive a portion of the charitable funds from the conversion of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin from a nonprofit organization to a for-profit corporation. 

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.