Wisconsin Partnership Program selects United Way of Greater Milwaukee to head infant-mortality effort

The Wisconsin Partnership Program has selected an agency to lead efforts to reduce infant mortality in Milwaukee.

The Partnership Program established the Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF), an effort to reduce African American infant mortality in four Wisconsin cities – Beloit, Kenosha, Milwaukee and Racine.

The program’s Oversight and Advisory Committee (OAC) approved a five year $1.5 million award to United Way of Greater Milwaukee to serve as the convening agency for the Milwaukee LIHF Collaborative.

United Way will work in conjunction with the Partnership Program’s Regional Program Office, managed by the Center for Urban Population Health, to guide the implementation of Milwaukee’s community action plan.

The Regional Program Office will help ensure that successful projects and practices are effectively implemented across all four LIHF communities.

“The Wisconsin Partnership Program has made a substantial long-term commitment to Milwaukee, and the selection of United Way to lead the implementation process moves this effort forward with a strong and experienced partner,” said Dr. Robert Golden, dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, which houses the Wisconsin Partnership Program.

“We share with United Way the belief that the work must always be informed by ideas, strategies and energy that emerge from the community itself.”

“United Way of Greater Milwaukee is honored to have been selected to move this important work forward in Milwaukee as part of a broader statewide effort.

As inaugural members of the Milwaukee LIHF Steering Committee, we have been on this journey since its inception, and are committed to bringing the Community Action Plan to life,” said Nicole Angresano, vice president of community impact for United Way.

“LaShawndra Vernon is an experienced, talented project lead, and will manage these efforts and serve as the bridge between organizations and community members.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who in November 2011 announced a citywide goal to reduce the black infant-mortality rate in the city by 15 percent, and community’s overall rate by 10 percent, praised the announcement.

“United Way of Greater Milwaukee has the expertise and experience to bring the community together around this critical issue,” said Barrett.

“Seven years ago they took the lead on teen pregnancy prevention and thanks to their leadership, we not only reached but surpassed our community wide goal to reduce births to teens by 46 percent by 2015 three years early.

I am confident they will be successful in moving this important work forward.”

Through this award, the Milwaukee LIHF Collaborative will drive policy, systems, and environmental improvements that lead to healthier African American birth outcomes.

This broad mission in turn requires close collaboration among different groups and agencies seeking to reduce the rates of infant mortality among African Americans in Milwaukee and across the region.