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Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families

The Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health seeks to reduce health disparities and improve the quality of life for all state residents. The Partnership Program’s Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF) addresses one of the most perplexing disparities in Wisconsin – infant mortality.


This innovative community-academic collaboration is designed to improve local conditions that lead to healthier birth outcomes among African American families in Beloit, Kenosha, Milwaukee and Racine. These four cities in southeastern Wisconsin account for 90 percent of African American births in the state.


The Partnership Program’s Oversight and Advisory Committee (OAC) began preparations for the initiative in 2007 when it commissioned Richard A. Aronson, MD, to prepare a white paper (pdf) that investigated strategies for addressing racial disparities in birth outcomes. In 2008, the Partnership Program and The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread hosted a statewide conference to gather input on strategies to address infant mortality in Wisconsin. With the approval of its 2009-2014 Strategic Plan, the Partnership Program formally launched the Lifecourse Initiative with a pledge of $10 million.


In 2009, the OAC formed a steering committee that included maternal and child health experts and advocates to guide the first phase of the initiative. The following year, the Oversight and Advisory Committee awarded action planning grants to a convening agency in each of the four communities. Each agency brought together representatives from local organizations to form a collaborative and begin work on community action plans.


In 2012, the Wisconsin Partnership Program awarded the four collaboratives implementation grants totaling $1 million. The action plans provide the framework for 23 project grants awarded in 2013 that focus on improving prenatal care, increasing family and community supports, and strengthening father involvement. Similar to the Partnership Program’s Community-Academic Partnership, each grantee works with an academic partner to plan, implement and evaluate the project.


To support and enhance the work of the four LIHF collaboratives, the Partnership Program in 2013 established a regional program office at the Center for Urban Population Health. Based in Milwaukee, the center is supported by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, UW-Milwaukee and Aurora Health Care.


Last updated: 10/13/2014
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