December 9, 2021
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683

DHS Awards $8.1 Million in Community Outreach Grants to Promote Equity in COVID-19 Vaccinations

Funds still available for community organizations to support vaccine outreach

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced $8.1 million in grants has been awarded to organizations across the state to promote health equity in COVID-19 vaccination throughout the state. The investment aims to increase vaccinations by supporting organizations to serve as trusted messengers within their communities and reduce barriers that hinder vaccine access for marginalized or underserved populations.

“Ensuring every Wisconsinite has access to quality, affordable healthcare is an essential part of our response to this pandemic and building strong, healthy communities,” said Gov. Evers. “We also know we must work to address disparities in access to healthcare services and providers both for the duration of this pandemic and beyond it. These funds will be critically important in our ongoing efforts to make sure every Wisconsin can access the safe, effective, and free vaccine.”

Through funding from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), DHS was able to offer an additional $13 million dollars for the Vaccination Community Outreach (VCO) Grant program, which originally distributed $6.2 million to organizations in early 2021. Each applicant was required to submit a plan that included the geographic area or target population they serve and a strategy to help overcome barriers to vaccination.

Awardees will use culturally relevant information and engage in outreach to promote vaccine acceptance. See the full list of awardees and brief descriptions of their plans.

“We are committed to making sure that Wisconsinites who have been impacted the most by COVID-19 have every opportunity to get vaccinated,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “By providing funding to community-based organizations, we are partnering with trusted messengers who are in the best position to share accurate information, build confidence in vaccines, and close the gaps that remain in vaccination rates across our state.”

Funding is still available for qualifying organizations, and DHS encourages organizations that engage in work to reduce socioeconomic or health inequities to apply, submitting their applications by January 14, 2022. Applicants that demonstrate a commitment to addressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and minimizing accessibility issues will be prioritized.

Due to various social factors and systemic barriers, communities of color have experienced higher rates of infection, hospitalizations, and death during this pandemic. In Wisconsin, as well as nationwide, COVID-19 vaccine data shows rates of vaccinations have been disproportionately lower for Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and other underserved populations.

DHS will continue to work to ensure everyone in Wisconsin can get vaccinated against COVID-19. We remain committed to protecting and promoting the health and safety of all Wisconsinites.

For information, resources, and data related to Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccination program, visit the COVID-19 vaccine data webpage. To access resources translated into Hindi, Hmong, Mandarin, Somali, and Spanish, visit the COVID-19 resources webpage.