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News & Events

SoHE and CommNS to Partner on 3 New Wisconsin Partnership Program Grants

The School of Human Ecology and the UW Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies (housed in SoHE) will partner on three of six new grants announced Friday by the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. The grants, each of $1 million over five years, support community-academic partnerships designed to improve health outcomes by addressing the social determinants that influence health and well-being over the course of a lifetime.

Rebalanced Life Wellness Association and the Urban League of Greater Madison: Black Men’s Mental Health and Well-Being

alvin thomas headshot
Dr. Alvin Thomas, Assistant Professor in Human Development & Family Studies
Graduate student Troy Williams
Troy M. Williams, PhD student in Civil Society & Community Research

This initiative, designed for and by Black men, aims to improve the mental-emotional health and well-being of Black men in Southeastern Wisconsin in order to achieve higher quality of life and longevity.

In Wisconsin, African American men have a life expectancy seven years shorter than white men and are more likely to report serious psychological stress and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. Black men face health equity issues including low mental health literacy and education, stigma around mental health problems and lack of access to mental health support services. Their stress has been further heightened by the dual crises of COVID-19 and racial injustice. The initiative will normalize and destigmatize mental health issues in the Black community, improve access to mental health supports and help men address the historical and current health inequities they are experiencing.

Academic partners: UW–Madison School of Human Ecology, including Dr. Alvin Thomas and CSCR PhD student Troy M. Williams; University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, UW School of Medicine and Pubic Health

Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program: Addressing Stressors, Preventing Farmer Suicide: Social Connectedness and Health

Amy Hilgendorf
Amy Hilgendorf, Associate Director of the CommNS

With this grant, the Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program will address the urgent mental health needs of Wisconsin farmers and work to reduce suicide risk in this population by developing a comprehensive range of interventions to create a system of support designed to foster farmer resilience. The grantee will work to strengthen the social connections in rural communities, educate farmers about farm diversification and financial stabilization and work to make mental health services more accessible and acceptable for farmers and their families.

In Wisconsin, farmers, families and farmworkers face health inequities due to challenges in rural communities including lack of healthcare providers and services, lack of insurance and often a stigma around mental health issues. Stressors like farm foreclosures, weather events, supply chain breaks and the COVID-19 pandemic threaten their health and well-being. This work responds to the mental health crisis facing farmers, and to their growing awareness and willingness to seek support and help from trusted resources within their farming communities.

Academic partners: UW–Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, UW–Madison Division of Extension; Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies

YWCA Madison and Wisconsin Department of Corrections: Building Tech Skills, Opportunities, Health and Wellness for Returning Citizens

This grant aims to support citizens returning to their communities post-incarceration by providing technology skills, employment training and networking opportunities critical for achieving economic stability while fostering healing and dignity. Investing in individuals to create positive change in their lives and the lives of their families is at the heart of this effort. Providing access to long-term earning potential and career growth opportunities while addressing the diversity gap in the tech industry by helping to provide qualified candidates to area employers is a critical component of this grant.

According to Healthpeople.gov, men and women with a history of incarceration are worse in mental and physical health than the general population. The added hardship and adversity created by COVID-19 and the country’s health crisis of racism adds to their health challenges. This grant will work to improve health and health equity for returning citizens by providing support as they transition to life back in their communities. The initiative will engage returning citizens in the YWeb training program, and incorporate restorative justice into its approach and process, to help support and heal individuals and families.

Academic partner: Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies