BMO Harris Bank today announced it is donating $750,000 over three years to United Way of Greater Milwaukee to promote healthy birth outcomes and reduce the city’s infant mortality rate.
The funds from BMO Harris Bank will enable United Way to launch its Healthy Birth Initiative and hire a project director with expertise in maternal-child health. United Way will also convene a group of diverse constituents who will assist in the development of the strategies that will lead to improvements in birth outcomes.
Among the agencies that will benefit from the bank’s support is the Obstetrics Medical Home Program at the Progressive Community Health Centers which will receive $150,000 from United Way over the next three years.
The gift will allow Progressive to hire a full-time women’s health registered nurse (RN) to assist with care coordination activities for its prenatal patients. Previously, Progressive did not have the resources for an RN to be dedicated to women’s health.
“It takes good community partners and a wide array of strategies to address infant mortality and I’m grateful BMO Harris Bank has stepped up to improve the lives of people in Milwaukee,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “These funds will help expectant mothers receive good quality health care. At the same time, we will continue our focus on the social determinants of infant mortality.”
“For nearly 200 years, BMO has had a proud tradition of helping others. We wanted to do our part to help even the odds here in Milwaukee. Poverty, and the consequences of poverty, are a self-perpetuating cycle that we need to break,” said Brad Chapin, executive vice president, retail banking, BMO Harris Bank. “We care about the same things our customers care about and wanted to make an investment in something that matters to us all. United Way was a natural partner for us because so many of our employees choose to support United Way with their own giving.”
“BMO Harris Bank’s gift will allow us to build capacity and collaborate with our community partners, corporate leaders and health care providers to take this community-wide effort to scale,” said Mary Lou Young, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater Milwaukee. “This is an example of how corporate leaders can change the health of our community. We invite others to join us.”
Milwaukee has one of the highest infant mortality rates among large cities in the United States. It also has one of the worst racial disparities in infant deaths: African American infants are two to three times more likely to die in their first year of life than Caucasian infants.
In Milwaukee, 100 children died before their first birthday in 2011. Many of these deaths were preventable.
Barrett has set a community-wide goal to reduce Milwaukee’s African American infant mortality rate by 15 percent and the overall rate by 10 percent by 2017.