Greater Milwaukee Foundation joins Medical College’s Flourishing Lives initiative

Foundation could relocate from Schlitz Park to MCW central city development

The Medical College of Wisconsin.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:49 pm

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is joining the Medical College of Wisconsin in its effort to establish a presence in Milwaukee’s central city to address social determinants of health where disparities are most acute.

The Medical College of Wisconsin.

Under the new partnership, the GMF could relocate its headquarters from Schlitz Park to a yet-to-be-determined central city site, where the foundation would be co-located with several of the medical school’s departments.

MCW has been working over the last year on its Flourishing Lives initiative, which would aggregate the college’s community-facing programs in one location to tackle health disparities through civic and community engagement, research and policy change.

Possible locations for the center have been narrowed down to Milwaukee’s Halyard Park, Haymarket or Hillside neighborhoods, the organizations said Thursday. The development could involve the renovation of an existing facility or new construction.

The organizations said the common location will “serve as a catalyst and a community hub benefiting the immediate area and beyond.”

“Collaborating with like-minded partners helps create solutions for our community’s biggest challenges, and we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation,” said John Raymond, president and chief executive officer of MCW. “This collaboration aligns our missions and will spark catalytic changes in the community through addressing social, economic and environmental factors that are key to improving health.”

The organizations said they share priority areas of advancing community health, neighborhood and workforce development, affordable housing, economic security, safety and education.

“We are committed to ensuring access to opportunity and a high quality of life for all people, in neighborhoods throughout our community, a goal we can best achieve by working together,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of the GMF. “This partnership is a perfect example of our enduring investment in place. The missions of the foundation and the Medical College of Wisconsin complement one another well, and we look forward to applying our respective expertise and knowledge for greater collective impact.”

The organizations did not disclose details regarding GMF’s financial commitment to the project.

“It’s too early to tell what that may be,” MCW spokeswoman Holly Botsford said. “At this point the exploration is the co-location, joint programming and selecting a site.”

MCW and GMF plan to bring a recommendation to their respective boards in early 2019. The organization said they will continue to gather input from residents and other stakeholders over the coming months.

Persistent health disparities across Milwaukee-area zip codes are well documented. Milwaukee ranked second-to-last among the state’s 72 counties for its health outcomes in the latest Wisconsin County Health Rankings, compiled by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The medical college has largely worked on social determinants of health in silos – through its Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment and Institute for Health & Equity, or an individual faculty member’s research, for example – but leaders said this initiative will aggregate those efforts. Those two departments, along with MCW’s Center for AIDS Intervention Research, are among those that could be housed in the new facility, along with a space to recruit for clinical trials and house service learning opportunities for medical students, Raymond has said.

Initially, leaders expected to have landed on the site and scope of the project by May, but ultimately decided to take more time to get more input from the community.

MCW is working with Milwaukee real estate developer Kevin Newell’s Royal Capital Group LLC on the community engagement and site selection process. Royal Capital Group is involved with several noteworthy developments in the city, including a 90-unit apartment complex near the new Milwaukee Bucks arena and a 181-unit residential development in Milwaukee’s Brewers Hill neighborhood.

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