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Health Disparities Grant

In June 2021, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) was awarded $27 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat inequities related to COVID-19 infection, illness, and death. This includes $9 million dedicated to rural communities.

The funding will last through June 1, 2023. To learn more, read the press release about this effort.

Current funding opportunities

Applications for the Qualitative Data for Capacity Building and Alignment grant, also known as “QualData Grant,”  is open to all local and Tribal health departments (LTHDs) and is due by 11:45 p.m. on June 20, 2022. 

Frequently asked questions are available for review in this recorded June 3rd informational session. 

Please submit application to:


The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted health inequities across Wisconsin. Health inequities are preventable health differences and unjust distribution of health resources between different groups of people. These differences are the result of unfair systematic processes that negatively affect people’s living conditions, access to healthcare, and overall health status. Therefore, certain groups experience worse health and increased difficulties accessing healthcare as a result of the systems structure which, influence their lives and behavior. Research has confirmed that because of the pandemic, communities with history of disinvestment and disempowerment are experiencing greater health disparities when compared to communities who have had consistent access to resources and decision-making.

The “Qualitative Data for Capacity Building and Alignment” grant opportunity (herein referred to as “QualData Grant”) is open to all LTHDs. The grant opportunity aims to:

  • Build qualitative data capacity across the public health system in order to better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health inequities and develop plans that will address inequities
  • Engage LTHD’s with community members or organizations representing underserved communities in an authentic way in collective search of ideas and strategies to address barriers to health improvement
  • Strengthen LTHD and the Wisconsin public health system capacity by offering and providing technical assistance, resources and techniques for qualitative data collection and analysis. 
  • Build community input seeking capacity and sustainability across the Wisconsin Public Health system
  • Align decision making processes that will support and improve health outcomes for communities experiencing the disproportionate impact of health inequities

Award information

A maximum of $1,000,000 has been allocated to the QualData Grant funding opportunity. All LTHD applicants who apply will be awarded some amount of grant funding, provided that their proposal meets the stated requirements. Award amounts will be no less than $5,000 and no more than $20,000.


Some of the opportunities that exist for applicants who are awarded includes:

  1. Advance partnerships and healing with community organizations with the purpose of elevating marginalized community voices in decision making processes and public health planning.  
  2. Increase LTHD capacity on qualitative data collection and outreach locally and across the Public Health system, to engage with community members and partners and to collect and use qualitative data in decision making. 
  3. Develop technical skills in qualitative data collection and analysis.
  4. Partner with community organizations to support activities aimed at removing barriers and increasing health equity. 
  5. Learn from Wisconsin marginalized communities on what are or were the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure planning objectives, program improvement and priority setting aimed at equitable outcomes.
  6. Better understand the root barriers that public health should work toward addressing and generate ideas that would help communities heal. 
  7. Understand how communities’ priorities and needs may have shifted and what caused the shift. 

Applications for Supporting Native Nations Communities in Prevention and Recovery from COVID-19 and Beyond are due to DHS no later than May 15, 2022.

Please submit the application and budget with project details to:


The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted health inequities across the nation and in Wisconsin. Data shows that Wisconsin’s Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) have been disproportionally affected. Health is influenced by structural racism and social factors that have created barriers and obstacles for many people.

Utilizing this data and acknowledging each Native nation’s “efficiency in delivering core public health services and community-oriented outlook,” this grant will support the strength and resilience of each nation, their community health, and their collaborative efforts by distributing funding as each nation determines their own recovery and future preparedness needs.

This grant will promote multi-directional, transparent, and sustained communication between the 11 federally recognized Native nations located in Wisconsin, the Gerald L. Ignace Health Center, the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, the DHS Tribal Affairs’ Office and Division of Public Health.


The goals of the grant include supporting new, existing, and expanding partnerships and collaboration that address the community health infrastructure, advance health equity, and address the social determinants of health as these relate to COVID-19 and other health disparities as experienced by Indigenous communities in Wisconsin.

The funding from this grant will assist each federally recognized Native nations in Wisconsin, the Gerald L. Ignace Health Center, and the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council to:

  • Self-determine and self-direct the restoration and recovery of their communities from the effects of COVID-19;
  • Create or sustain partnerships with traditional and non-traditional key partners in business, transportation, housing and so forth;
  • Engage community leaders and advisory groups and enhance culturally appropriate communication with their own trusted messengers; and
  • Enhance tribal infrastructure and capacity that can effectively respond to and prevent communicable disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies.

Use of funds

A key focus for this funding opportunity will be in projects that strive to improve the social determinants of health and the advancement of health equity affecting Indigenous people living in Wisconsin. Most importantly, the potential use of this grant funding will allow each Native nation and agency to tailor it to their most pressing needs while sustaining and enhancing communication between these agencies and DHS Division of Public Health.

Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), defined: Conditions in the environment where people are born, live, work, play, worship and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality of life outcomes and risks. Addressing SDoH can improve health outcomes and reduce disparities.

Addressing SDoH may be unique to each Native nation and agency, and a broader net may need to be cast to engage with more non-traditional partners. This funding will help support building these connections to develop a more impactful and sustainable community health effort.

Advancing health equity and areas where funding might be used

Health equity means that every person has the opportunities, resources, and supports needed to stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of their lived experience and identity. Creating equity during the COVID-19 response and beyond is the effort to provide different levels of support based on individual and specific population needs, centering power in communities with resources and opportunities to attain healthy outcomes. It requires the removal of systemic barriers shaped by a wider set of historical and current forces, including economics, social policies, and politics that enhance or impede access to opportunities for health based on social hierarchies of advantage and disadvantage.

Examples of potential investments of this funding

Examples of potential investments of this funding include:

  • Expanding use of community health workers and centers
  • Linking patients to existing resources
  • Assuring food and housing security
  • Working towards equitable access to clean water, air, land (environmental justice)
  • Building capacity for public health emergency preparedness, COVID-19 and other disease outbreak response
  • Increasing broadband access
  • Expanding community health services
  • Improving transportation options to increase accessibility
  • Increasing community-accessible spaces for physical, mental, and spiritual activities and practices
Examples of allowable expenses
  • Personnel (salary/wages, fringe benefits)
  • Necessary travel for purposes of grant activities
  • Supplies (e.g., office supplies, technology under $5,000, community outreach materials)
  • Contractual costs (contract staff, grassroots awareness campaigns)
  • Training and professional development of staff
  • Indirect expenses benefiting multiple projects and activities
  • Indirect rates equal to that approved by recipients’ cognizant agency may be used. Lacking a current, approved Indirect Rate Agreement, the rate used must be no more than 10% of total proposed project budget.
  • Translation and production or printing services
  • Reasonable program purposes, including personnel, travel, supplies, and services.
  • Incentives: Require prior approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Refer to General CDC Guidance for Use of Federal Funds to Provide Incentives to Support COVID-19 Updated
Examples of unallowable expenses – major categories
  • Reimbursement of pre-award costs incurred before June 1, 2021
  • Research
  • Clinical care
  • Purchase of furniture or equipment, capital costs, or leases
  • Lobbying (specifically: Publicity or propaganda purposes, for the preparation, distribution, or use of any material designed to support or defeat the enactment of legislation before any legislative body; or salary or expenses of any grant or contract recipient, or agent acting for such recipient, related to any activity designed to influence the enactment of legislation, appropriations, regulation, administrative action, or Executive order proposed or pending before any legislative body).
  • Purchase and offering of cash, lottery tickets or games of chance, alcohol, drugs, entertainment expenses, food, commemorative or promotional items, and gift cards that may appear to endorse a vendor.


Applicants must be based in Wisconsin, conduct their proposed work in Wisconsin, and be one of the following:

  • A federally recognized Native nation in Wisconsin (11)
  • Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center
  • Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council

Eligible organizations may not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, or national origin in their staffing policies, use of volunteers, or provision of services.

Funding available

DHS intends to issue base awards in the amount of $85,000 to each approved new grantee for Funding Period 2. This means that there are currently three Tribal entities that are eligible for this base amount award.

There are 10 current grantees that are eligible to apply for Funding Period 2 supplemental awards to be equitably distributed among approved grantees. The supplemental funding range is currently $56,510 – $82,010. Final determination of the supplemental funding allocation will be determined after May 15, 2022.

  • The base amount of $85,000 will be available to all newly eligible entities who submit a completed and approved application form with project details and proposed budget. This will be a non-competitive award process. The contract period will end May 31, 2023.
  • Supplemental funds will be available to the ten current grantees needing more support. Those interested should submit a budget and justification for supplemental funds by May 15, 2022. The contract period will end May 31, 2023.
  • Any unused monies from each of the original ten grantees will be re-obligated to each grantee upon submission of a carry-over budget and justification after May 31, 2022 (end of Funding Period 1).
  • Funding Period 2 for both new and current grantees will start June 1, 2022, and end May 31, 2023.
  • Submit required application project details by May 15, 2022.
  • Funding will be disbursed via reimbursement for expenditures submitted to the Community Aids Reporting System (CARS). Awardees have until May 31, 2023, to spend expenses and up to 45 days after to submit expenses via CARS.

Should additional funding become available at any point during the course of the grant period, DHS reserves the right to use the results of this application process to increase funding to selected agencies. DHS also reserves the right to award grants for less than an applicant’s proposed amount.

Work plan and reporting

While completion of a work plan that includes ongoing activity reporting is not required, a final report out will be required at the completion of the grant cycle. Anticipate having a final report due in June 2023. A brief quarterly reporting contact will occur between the grantee’s contract coordinator and monitor. A work plan and reporting template will be sent to all those awarded funding.

We will be encouraging voluntary participation to engage in future opportunities to share your stories or lessons learned after the grant cycle has ended, and as your organization determines this type of sharing. We are happy to host such events and will support your decisions.

The Mobilizing Communities for a Just Response grant program seeks to engage local, tribal government agencies, and community-based organizations to address COVID-19-related health disparities. The grant also provides a means to advance health equity by expanding community capacity for equity and change. The deadline to apply for the grant was Dec. 6, 2021.

Below is the list of organizations and projects that have been awarded the Mobilizing Communities for a Just Response Grant funding:

Angelic Assistance Community Care Co.

Project title: DHS Mobilizing Communities Grant

This project will advance health equity and address social determinants of health that will produce equitable, flourishing communities: creating a sustainable “Community Voice” group that collaborates and advocates on behalf of the community to advance conditions for the communities to flourish. Communities most affected by the issues will be engaged and build power. We can explore and understand the different conditions that shape our health (social determinants of health) and approach the root causes of health and be able to confront what shapes these causes. This project will also encourage the use of evidence-based guidelines and community-informed policy agendas to address determinants of health to improve the health of our communities and finally strengthen our community capacity.

Be Well Madison

Project title: Be Well Community Wellness Clinic

Be Well is focused on equitable access to preventative wellness services.

Bellin Health Foundation, Inc.

Project title: Community Health Worker for Somali Refugee Populations

Through this partnership, Bellin Health and Community Services Agency (COMSA) will be focused on addressing the social determinants of health and decreasing health disparities for Somali and refugee populations. The funding will be utilized to a hire a Bellin Community Health Worker to be stationed at COMSA to communicate directly with the target populations to determine actual barriers in healthcare, and the social determinants of health. The Community Health Worker will act both as a liaison for the target populations to the Bellin Health care plan, as well as other services in the community.

Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, affiliated with Children's Hospital and Health System, Inc.

Project title: Reducing Sleep-Related Infant Mortality Impacting African American Communities in Southeast Wisconsin

This project will give African-American families a voice in the topic of infant safe sleep. Families will be able to emphasize how socioeconomic factors or social determinants of health influence infant safe sleep. Also, families will be able to join the conversation about their needs and what resources they would like to access in order to provide a safe sleep environment for their infant.

Cia Siab, Inc.

Project title: La Crosse Hmoob Community Housing Mobilization

Cia Siab, Inc. hopes to address critical next steps to mobilize our community to advocate for substantive systemic changes that will lead to fewer housing emergencies for Hmoob families. Using our identified needs as a guide, we will then develop plans to share that with community partners and decision makers to begin to advocate for meaningful change in renters’ protections and housing equity for the Hmoob community.

City on a Hill

Project title: Mobilizing NextGen Leaders for a Just Response

The Mobilizing NextGen Leaders for a Just Response project will educate, prepare, train, and mentor Milwaukee young adults to become leaders for equity in their community. The program will address COVID-19-related health disparities and advance health equity by expanding community capacity for equity and change around the domains of economic stability, healthcare access, and education quality.

Eau Claire City-County Health Department (ECCCHD)

Project title: Setting the Eau Claire Table for Sustaining and Growing Community Engagement

This project will advance health equity by building on the successes and lessons learned from ECCCHD Community Health Equity Work Group. ECCCHD hopes to continue collaboration with community partners that represent a wide variety of groups, such as our Hmong, ALICE, low-income, Hispanic/Latinx, and non-English speakers about the impact of COVID-19 in their communities. The goal of this project is to build a stronger, more planful, and more nimble health equity framework in which a diversity of community voices are robustly represented, ongoing health disparities can be detected, addressed, and mitigated, and future health disparities can be better prevented.


Project title: Housing Development and Community Enrichment

We believe that a better understanding of the housing continuum and how it impacts certain segments of our community can help us develop policies that lead to a healthy community that has educational, mental, and physical health benefits. This project will enable us to take a deeper dive into five identified demographic groups that have been most adversely impacted by the COVID pandemic and its fallout on the housing situation. We want to raise the voices of those most impacted, because it is within their voice that solutions to social problems will be uncovered.

Findley Foundation, Inc.

Project title: Building on Trusted Partnerships to Improve Health Equity for All.

This project will allow the Findley Foundation to partner with community groups, public health and local leaders to identify available resources, make referrals, track services, and create accountability. Educational trainings and information sessions will help ensure our community is healthy, healed, and whole.


Project title: Wisconsin Transgender Education and Advocacy Coalition for Health (WiTEACH)

FORGE, in close partnership with transgender community members and mental health and social service providers from across the state, will create WiTEACH – Wisconsin Transgender Education and Advocacy Coalition for Health. With an emphasis on participation from rural parts of the state, this project will engage individuals and organizations to collaboratively share information, further identify barriers to care for trans and nonbinary (“trans”) individuals, work together to reduce trans health disparities by identifying and supporting concrete steps individuals and organizations can take, and increase the provider database of trans-informed mental health providers throughout the state (especially in non-urban communities).

Frazier Family Support Services

Project Title: In Their Own Voices: The Impact of COVID-19 on African American and Hispanic/Latino City of Racine Residents

This project will explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on African American and Hispanic/Latino residents of the City of Racine. It will advance health equity and address social determinants of health by providing the opportunity for underrepresented members of the community to share, in their own words, how they have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Great Rivers United Way

Project title: Empowering Voices and Building Capacity of the Latinx Community in Rural Trempealeau County

Together with Great Rivers HUB, this proposal would support outreach to the Latinx community to identify needs, communicate with stakeholders, and provide education to community decision makers about the unique needs of the community. These activities will allow for proper analysis of the needs and barriers in order to provide improved access and support to reach greater health equity across the county. The project would also allow for community health worker intervention to specifically address household social determinant of health needs.

HealthWatch Wisconsin, Inc.

Project title: Raising our Voices: Reducing the Impact of COVID on Unmarried, Minority Pregnant Women & Families

Raising our Voices will identify families impacted by inequitable Birth Cost Recovery policies, share stories from families, and amplify messages with peers, leaders, legislators, policymakers, and the media. HealthWatch Wisconsin will conduct an education and outreach campaign that includes multi-media. Community leaders need to know the disparate impact Birth Cost Recovery policy has on low-income, minority families, including health inequity and prenatal stress that leads to poor birth outcomes in a time of public health crisis in the black community.

Hmong American Center, Inc.

Project title: Empowering Hmong and Hispanic Communities Through Community-Led Community Health Worker Networks and Early Childhood Education for Parents

H2N focuses on strengthening communication channels and facilitating bi-directional information exchange between public health and health systems and resource agencies and people in Hmong and Hispanic communities in Central Wisconsin through Community Coordinators and a network of community health workers. The Hmong American Center aims to advance health equity by expanding community capacity for equity and change through building upon existing relationships and development of new partnerships to develop sustainable systems to support community health workers to serve as longer term advocates for policy, systems, and environmental change to address structural inequities and build capacity for community-led efforts to address social determinants of health and institutional bias, including upstream efforts targeting early childhood development and further empowerment and inclusion of community voices.

The Hmong Institute, Inc. (THI)

Project title: Empowering Community Through Educating, Preserving, and Promoting the Hmong Heritage.

The proposed activities in this proposal will mainly focus on addressing the unmet needs in the Hmong community in Wisconsin. Key reasons include: Hmong veterans experience flash back, chronic pain, and depression on a daily basis as their post-traumatic stress disorder resulted from the Secret War went unnoticed; racial tensions, financial stress due to the loss of employment and divorce activities among adults are increasing with limited or no culturally competent mental health services available to them; and with suicide on the rise among youth.

Indianhead Community Action Agency, Inc. (ICAA)

Project title: Northwestern Wisconsin Nonprofit Coalition

Indianhead Community Action Agency (ICAA), Inc. proposes to create a coalition of nonprofits and supportive service entities throughout northwestern Wisconsin to increase the amount of funding that could be leveraged by developing strong partnerships to support capacities of supportive services throughout the region. Due to the lack of local foundations, many nonprofit organizations must rely on funding from state and federal sources. By creating a coalition of nonprofit organizations, ICAA aims to increase the region’s ability to secure funds to ensure that northwestern Wisconsin residents can access the resources they need to increase equity for low- to moderate-income individuals and families.

Kenosha Area Family and Aging Services, Inc. (KAFASI)

Project title: Kenosha Latino Mental Health Community-Based Collaborative

KAFASI and its project partners propose to develop a Latino Mental Health Community-Based Collaborative to address the mental health disparities in Kenosha County for the Latino population. Overarching goals include:

  • Increase involvement of Kenosha Latino communities in the decision making affecting their mental health.
  • Confront and alleviate the negative impacts of the social determinants of health (access, housing, immigration, socio-economic status, education, built environment, racism)
  • Serve as a change-agent for policies affecting the mental health of Latino communities.
  • Act as credible navigation resource for the Latino community.

Wisconsin DHS funds will be used for strategic planning with community partners focused on PSE change and equity issues; and to provide training and education on the PSE approach to the individuals and organizations who will be involved in planning and implementation.

Kenosha County Public Health (KCPH)

Project title: Local Public Health Removing the Confines of Equity

KCPH seeks to strengthen the relationship between community health and criminal justice partners – Detention Center, Corrections Division, and probation and parole, among others – to better understand the problem, needs, barriers, assets, and community context in order to identify appropriate PSE change strategies.

Marathon County Health Department

Project title: Health Equity Collaboration

Funding would be used to support development of health equity education and exploration of new health equity-related Community Health Improvement plan action items as well as provide population-specific and language-specific outreach to disproportionately impacted populations in our county, including rural farm workers, Hmong-speaking, and Spanish-speaking communities. COVID-19 has highlighted the inequities within Marathon County and continues to bring public health work into a highly politicized sphere.

MetaStar, Inc.

Project title: Improving Digital Health IT Literacy for Wisconsin Native Americans

MetaStar will work collaboratively with tribal health centers to increase patient knowledge about, and familiarity with, available electronic health information technologies and ways to safeguard health information, as well as increase tribal health center staff understanding about patient rights and responsibilities regarding access and sharing of electronic health information. Armed with practical and relevant information about using, sharing, and protecting electronic health information, Wisconsin Native Americans served by tribal health centers, along with tribal health center staff, will be better prepared to engage in an increasingly digital health care environment.

Milwaukee County Department of Health & Human Services

Project Title: Community Resilience Imperative

Milwaukee County has a vision to achieve racial equity making Milwaukee the healthiest county in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee Center for Independence (MCFI)

Project title: Marginalized Communities Employment Navigator

Funding through the Mobilizing Communities for a Just Response grant will support a Marginalized Communities Employment Navigator position, recruited and employed by MCFI. Our expectation for this funded position is that the individual will have experience in community outreach with some networks in place, but is eager to form new community relationships. MCFI would also expect this individual to have both a strategic as well as a tactical focus and will be responsible for developing and convening an employment initiative for Black, Indigenous and People of Color community members residing in Milwaukee County.

Mosaicos Cultural Enrichment partnering with Eyes of Hope

Project title: After School Tutoring, Wellness, and Enrichment Program

Our initiative is focused on advancing equity throughout Stoughton by creating culturally appropriate and safe spaces for historically marginalized youth K-12 and their families to connect and to have a sense of belonging. The project will offer low or no-cost quality, evidence-based, after-school programming with a focus on addressing academic deficits, lack of representation in schools, youth engagement and wellness, social and emotional and mental health needs. At the same time, this project will provide paid jobs to Black, Indigenous and People of Color high school students who will be trained as tutors (by a local tutoring academy) and hired by the after-school programs. Finally, this initiative will help to educate, encourage, and support parent affinity groups to address the inequities in education and health, empowering families to ask for what they need, raising awareness that their cultural values are important social determinants of health and well-being.

Multicultural Coalition Inc. (MCI)

Project title: COVID-19 Impact: Putting Marginalized Communities First

MCI wishes to remain steadfast in its quest to achieve health care equity for diverse populations through accessible community vaccine clinics offering first, second, and third doses, booster shots and now vaccines for children ages 5 and older, with anticipation of those under age 5 becoming eligible for vaccination sometime in 2022. Long-term, MCI has plans to tackle inequities in employment, housing, education, and more.

North Shore Health Department

Project title: Evaluating Childhood Immunization Disparities in Brown Deer and Glendale: An Assessment of Underlying Structural and Social Barriers

The goal of this project is to first assess where disparities exist in childhood immunization rates between the North Shore communities, particularly targeting the municipalities of Brown Deer and Glendale, as these communities have a higher percentage of racial and ethnic minority groups and lower median household income. After identifying existing disparities through secondary data analysis of immunization data, an assessment of the underlying social determinants of health that potentially exacerbate these inequities will be conducted by surveying the community and parents, and interviewing community partners that can provide important insight on barriers to vaccination. With the results of this assessment, we can plan and implement a program or initiative that helps address the most urgent needs of the Brown Deer and Glendale and promote health equity in the North Shore community.

Personal Development Center, Inc. (PDC)

Project title: Domestic Violence Housing First

DHS Mobilizing Communities Grant project will support the enhancement and expansion of collaborative partnerships, increased awareness of domestic abuse and the barriers faced by victims and survivors, and development of a Domestic Violence Housing First Program to increase accessibility of safe and affordable housing for victims and survivors while decreasing homelessness within our communities.

Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) (Local Health Department)

Project title: Partnering Towards Health Equity Through Wealth Equity: Supporting the Madison Forward Fund, a Guaranteed Income Program

This project will serve to support the implementation of the Madison Forward Fund and bring a public health approach to the work in seeking to fund a Population Health Fellow to join the team of collaborators working to pilot this program. Working with PHMDC partners and programs (like WIC) will support success. Furthermore this Fellow will work to conduct analysis and give recommendations on how direct cash transfer programs can impact health equity and social determinants of health in Madison and Dane County. Involvement with this pilot will allow for expanded partnerships in exploring this innovative approach to affecting health equity. The research tells a compelling story: living wages translate to better health and quality of life. Importantly, these benefits would most significantly affect women and people of color— a step toward gender and racial equity.

Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association (RLWA)

Project title: Targeted Community Health Access and Education Program

Our program’s ultimate goal is to ensure that Black men and boys have access to health services, advocate for and prioritize health for themselves and their loved ones, and ultimately reduce incidence of preventable disease within the population. We aim to improve our clientele’s awareness and knowledge about disease prevalence, risks, prevention, and treatment. To this end, RLWA is expanding its nationally recognized Men’s Health and Education Center (MHEC) by opening the Perry Family Free Clinic (PFFC). The overarching goal of the PFFC is to improve health outcomes for uninsured and underinsured adult black men in Dane County by providing free primary healthcare in a trusted, accessible environment. Using our trained health advocates and leveraging our partnership with Edgewood College’s School of Nursing Internship Program, we will use this grant funding to provide timely, evidence-based resources on disease spread, vaccination efficacy, long-term impacts, the importance of immunizations, and support for accessing care.

Rock County Public Health Department (RCPHD)

Project title: Meeting the Call for a Just Response: Building Community Resilience and Shared Power through the Health Equity Alliance of Rock County (HEAR)

The goal is to mobilize efforts throughout Rock County and work to engage populations most impacted by health disparities, including Hispanic/Latino/a/x, Black and African American, adults aged 65 and older, people with disabilities, and residents living in rural communities. There are many opportunities to advance health equity and social determinants of health by sharing power and voices and working alongside one another to improve relationships that allow for collective impact.

Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative (RWHC) Healthy Wisconsin Inc.

Project title: Community Economic Development Program

Requested funding from DHS’ Mobilizing Communities for a Just Response Grant will be used to support the work of RWHC’s Director of Community Economic Development in her work to build relationships and partnerships between these sectors in rural communities across the state, educate these sectors on their commonalities and opportunities for collaboration, and fundamentally shift the notion of how rural health care delivery operates from a predominantly clinically based setting to one that includes local and statewide partnerships to more frequently address the social determinants of health. The resulting revitalization of rural communities and actions to address the social determinants of health for rural Wisconsinites will work to stem both inter- and intracommunity health disparities, thus increasing health equity, and improve the social determinants of health in rural Wisconsin communities through local cross-sector partnerships.

Sawyer County Public Health  

Project Title: Reconnecting Community

Sawyer’s develop an electronic resource guide that includes links for referrals so that we do not have any missed opportunities to link our residents with resources that will improve their health and wellbeing. While developing this resource, we will uncover gaps in resources. The gaps in resources will be addressed through our Community Health Improvement Core Team.

Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Inc.

Project title: Cultivating Community Leaders, Improving Access, and Influencing Urban Greenspace Design for All People

This project will advance health equity and address social determinants of health by cultivating community leaders who will have the knowledge to influence policy, activate neighborhood parks and greenspaces, and increase community participation in efforts to advance park equity. Amplifying the community voice for the protection and revitalization of these greenspaces in ways that reduce barriers, reflect community need, and help people gain access is vitally important to the health of the community who live there.

Stockbridge-Munsee Community

Project title: Mohican Transportation Services

This award would be used to expand transportation services to meet transportation needs that include trips to banking facilities, grocery and shopping centers, pharmacy, attending educational classes, cultural and socializing ceremonies, worksites, and non-life threating healthcare appointments, such as physical therapy, audiology, and optometry appointments. Rural and tribal communities have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by poverty. Due to our geographic location residents are located within a food desert. The nearest access to affordable, heathy food options located 24 miles east of the Reservation or 34 miles north of the Reservation. There is currently no public transportation system that provides Tribal Members access to safe, affordable, and sensible transportation options.

Today Not Tomorrow, Inc.

Expanding Capacity for Community Based Doulas and Community

This funding opportunity will advance health equity by providing training to expand Midwifery and Community-Based Doula Support Services, as well as Community Family Advocates. Our community outreach and engagement includes screening tools for the social determinants of health and social risk factors.

United Way St. Croix Valley

Project title: Building and Sharing Community and Knowledge for Healthy and Affordable Housing in Pierce and St. Croix Counties

United Way St. Croix Valley (UWSCV), in partnership with Healthier Together St. Croix and Pierce County will use funding to support a two-county housing needs assessment and comprehensive policy scan, key informant interviews with experts in the housing field and those who have experienced housing insecurity, and capacity building within community coalitions to engage in housing advocacy and policy work.

University of Wisconsin-Madison with Wisconsin Council of Churches 

Project Title: Building Trust: Uncovering social and systemic barriers to vaccine uptake in Wisconsin’s rural religious communities through listening experiences

This project seeks to discover barriers and opportunities for public health communication through rural and Spanish-speaking religious communities of Wisconsin using the substantial science-based health information provided by Dear Pandemic/Querida Pandemia and distributed through the networks of Wisconsin Council of Churches.

Walworth County Health & Human Services, Division of Public Health

Project title: Building Capacity to Center Hispanic Voices

Walworth County Division of Public Health is a local health department serving all residents of rural Walworth County. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been significant barriers to communicating and connecting with the Hispanic/Latinx community due to underdeveloped partnerships and lack of community trust. This project will build community capacity to address health inequities, improve communication and connection with the Hispanic/Latinx community, and build relationships among community partners and those most impacted by health inequities. Through training and community engagement, our organization and other community partners will be better equipped to prevent and address health disparities among the Hispanic/Latinx community.

Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD)

Project title: Equitable Community Engagement

Creating opportunities for community dialogues will advance health equity efforts by prioritizing communities most impacted by COVID, including communities of color, people with lower income levels, single parents, and young families. WCHD will incorporate the principles of equity, inclusion, trusted relationships and community power as the foundation for listening sessions. Prioritizing people with lived experience and engaging in an equitable approach will support the provision of resources to communities in need and create opportunities to build capacity and implement change. Capacity development among marginalized community groups can impact systems change by addressing the policies, processes, relationships, knowledge, power structure, values, and norms that guide the status quo in our communities.

Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health

Project title: Advocacy Doula Program

Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health innovative Advocacy Doula Program aims to advance health equity by expanding community capacity for equity and change. As a proven policy and advocacy leader in Wisconsin, this project will create a system of advocacy coaching and support specifically for Latinx women in Dane County. With this funding, we will employ a full-time Latinx Program Coordinator who will serve as an “Advocacy Doula” and will lead a cohort of 15 Latinx women to engage deeply in local change efforts to improve the health and well-being of the communities in which they live. The cohort will be fully equipped, supported, and compensated in their efforts to directly identify, challenge, and change the local structures and systems that continue to uphold barriers to equitable health and well-being for themselves and their families.

Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging (WIHA)

Project title: Recovery Through Prevention and Self-Management: A Systemic Approach

WIHA will address challenges related to health equity and social determinants of health exacerbated by the pandemic by examining barriers to evidence-based services within our partner organizations and for older adults themselves. By better understanding barriers and challenges faced by the populations we serve, we will be able to address them through strong community partnerships and local systems change.

Wisconsin Pharmacy Foundation

Project Title: Improve Vaccination Equity Statewide via System-change by Leveraging Pharmacies

This project will improve health equity and address social determinants of health to reduce COVID-19 health disparities in relation to vaccine-preventable disease and death.

Wisconsin Public Health Association (WPHA)

Project title: Transforming Wisconsin's CHAs and CHIPs to Address Structural Inequities

WPHA is requesting funding for a 17-month effort that will help transform Community Health Assessment/Community Health Improvement/Community Health Needs Assessment processes at several Wisconsin local health departments and lay the foundation for this transformation to be disseminated across the state, in order to address structural health inequities, advance health equity, and begin the process to build a just recovery from the pandemic more effectively.

Future funding opportunities

Check back for future funding opportunities related to this effort.

Over the next few months, DHS staff and partners will launch activities and open additional funding opportunities that include, but are not limited to:

  • Funding for Wisconsin tribes through a process where they can identify what they need to build community resilience against COVID-19.
  • Placing Community Health Workers (CHW) at local public health departments, health systems, Federally Qualified Health Centers, free and charitable clinics, aging and disability resource centers (ADRCs) serving rural areas, and other sites that can benefit from CHWs coordinating care for individuals.
  • Grants to community organizations and funding for community EMS initiatives to expand and integrate prevention efforts within the public health infrastructure.
  • Providing infection prevention resources to people and groups who are most at risk of COVID-19 infection in rural and urban areas.
  • Analyzing and disseminating data describing health disparities, or differences in health outcomes, in order to align resources to the greatest need(s).
  • Soliciting feedback directly from community to inform improvements to DHS services and programs, remove barriers, and address social determinants of health. This work can inform future pandemic/health crisis responses.

About the funding source

This funding is the CDC’s largest investment to date to support communities affected by COVID-19-related health disparities. It is part of $2.25 billion provided through the Public Law 116-260 Coronavirus Response & Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Its goal is to address COVID-19-related health disparities and advance health equity among populations that are at high-risk and underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural areas.

Background information

Data show that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected some populations and placed them at higher risk, including those who are medically underserved, racial and ethnic minority groups, and people living in rural communities. These groups may experience higher risk of exposure, infection, hospitalization, and mortality. In addition, evidence shows that racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities have disproportionate rates of chronic diseases that can increase the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 and may also encounter barriers to testing, treatment, or vaccination.

The funding titled “National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Among Populations at High-Risk and Underserved, Including Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Rural Communities” was announced on March 17, 2021. This funding is the CDC’s largest investment to date to support communities affected by COVID-19-related health disparities. It is part of $2.25 billion over two years to address COVID-19-related health disparities and advance health equity among populations that are at high-risk and underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural areas.

Funding runs from June 1, 2021, to June 1, 2023. Funding for Wisconsin is $27,184,789, including a rural carveout of $9,332,492. Funding was received May 27, and is effective as of June 1. Retroactive expenses are allowable back to March 15 if directly related to the COVID-19 response. Division of Public Health staff worked hard to compile a list of activities that could actively address health disparities related to COVID-19 in our state.

To stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and move toward greater health equity, CDC continues to work with populations at higher risk, underserved, and disproportionately affected to ensure resources are available to maintain and manage physical and mental health, including easy access to information, affordable testing, and medical and mental health care. For more information and community resources read the CDC news release.

Follow us

For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage. We encourage you to follow @DHSWI on Facebook, Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram for more information on COVID-19.

Last revised March 2, 2023