Medical College of Wisconsin
Press Release

Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin commits more than $20 million to statewide behavioral health initiatives

The ultimate outcome of this project is a statewide improvement in behavioral health, improved physical health among those with behavioral health conditions, and improved prevention and healthcare resources.

By - Jun 2nd, 2016 08:30 am

Milwaukee, Wis. – The Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin (AHW) Endowment today announced its commitment of nearly $20 million in an initiative to generate statewide, community-based advances in behavioral health. The ambitious eight-year project represents a philosophical shift for the Endowment, and a newly-formed strategic focus on improving population health through the creation and support of local coalitions.

The funding will be awarded to 10 Community Coalitions across 26 counties involving more than 120 partner organizations. An initial $2.3 million investment will allow the coalitions one year to plan and learn together before entering a five-year implementation phase. A final two years of the project will be devoted to ensuring that program successes are sustainable beyond the life of the award, and that they can be replicated in other communities.

The ultimate outcome of this project is a statewide improvement in behavioral health, improved physical health among those with behavioral health conditions, and improved prevention and healthcare resources. These outcomes roll up into the desired outcome of the larger strategic plan of the Endowment, which is the improved overall health of Wisconsin residents.

“The Endowment shifted its focus from ‘grantmaker’ to ‘changemaker’ two years ago, and this project is the culmination of a lot of fresh thinking paired with a keen sense of responsibility to the people of Wisconsin,” said Cheryl A. Maurana, Ph.D., senior associate dean and director of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) School of Medicine’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment and MCW Consortium member. “Everyone at the Medical College of Wisconsin is excited to see how much impact our partnerships can have on health through this creative and careful stewardship of Endowment funds.”

The Endowment invited communities across the state to submit proposals. The RFP was released in October 2015 with applications due by February 1, 2016. The selected communities will work with multi-sector partners, an MCW partner team consisting of faculty and staff, and each other to share best practices, review strategies and build the capacity of each community to serve the behavioral health needs of residents. During the program’s first year, the community groups will work as part of a funded Learning Community. The Endowment staff deliberately earmarked funds for this structured learning and planning phase so that they could build robust collaboration where communities could share and spread insights and expertise with their cohorts.

“We are energized by the direction of our Endowment strategy and we’re confident that these investments will lead to transformative accomplishments by our community partners,” said Joseph E. Kerschner, MD, Dean of the School of Medicine and Executive Vice President of MCW and an MCW Consortium member. “We believe this highly collaborative approach will effect sustainable change and we’re proud to be able to guide and spearhead this important work.”

The following organizations will lead community-based work to raise the bar on behavioral health.

  • American Foundation of Counseling Services, Inc.
    Region:  Urban. Brown, Kewaunee, Door, Oconto, Shawano Counties
  • Marathon County Health Department
    Region: Rural. Marathon County
  • Lac Du Flambeau Public School
    Region: Rural. Lac Du Flambeau Indian Reservation, Vilas County
  • Racine County Human Services
    Region: Urban. Racine County
  • Eau Claire City-County Health Department
    Region: Urban. Chippewa and Eau Claire Counties
  • La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium
    Region: Urban. La Crosse County
  • Mental Health America of Wisconsin
    Region: Urban. Milwaukee County
  • Winnebago County Health Department
    Region: Urban and rural. Winnebago, Outagamie and Calumet Counties
  • Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program (SWCAP)
    Region: Rural. Grant, Green, Iowa, Lafayette and Richland Counties
  • Northlakes Community Clinic

Region: Rural. Ashland, Bayfield, Iron, Douglas, Sawyer and Washburn Counties

More information about the MCW School of Medicine’s AHW Endowment funded projects can be found at

About the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment

The MCW School of Medicine’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment works to catalyze health improvement in Wisconsin and was created by funds generated from Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin’s conversion to a for-profit corporation. The Endowment’s Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program funded the new awards as part of its continued work supporting partnerships between academics and community health and non-profit organizations for urban, rural and statewide health improvement projects in Wisconsin. Since 2004, the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment has invested more than $190 million in more than 350 research, education and community health initiatives. More information on individual projects is available online:

About the Medical College of Wisconsin 

The Medical College of Wisconsin is the state’s only private medical school and health sciences graduate school. Founded in 1893, it is dedicated to leadership and excellence in education, patient care, research and community engagement. More than 1,200 students are enrolled in MCW’s medical school and graduate school programs in Milwaukee, and 26 medical students are enrolled at MCW-Green Bay. A regional medical education campus is scheduled to open in Central Wisconsin in 2016. MCW’s School of Pharmacy will open in 2017 or 2018 with an initial class size of 60 students. A major national research center, MCW is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee metro area and second largest in Wisconsin. In FY 2014-15, faculty received approximately $158 million in external support for research, teaching, training and related purposes, of which approximately $139 million is for research. This total includes highly competitive research and training awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Annually, MCW faculty direct or collaborate on more than 3,200 research studies, including clinical trials. Additionally, more than 1,500 physicians provide care in virtually every specialty of medicine for more than 525,000 patients annually.

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