A Healthier Wisconsin

Integration of Community Health Workers into Public Health Initiatives

Increasing training and deployment of CHWs in Wisconsin

Full Project Name:Integration of CHWs into Public Health Initiatives for Rural & Urban CommunitiesPrimary Community Organization:Milwaukee Area Health Education CenterPrimary Academic Partner:Leslie Ruffalo, PhD, MS, Family MedicineAward Amount:$514,905
Award Date
Project Duration:36 months

Project Description Narrative:

Eliminating health disparities is a task that cannot be done by health systems alone. Increasingly, evidence is demonstrating the positive impact that community health workers (CHWs) can have on access to care, health outcomes, and health disparities.

CHWs are trustworthy individuals who improve health within their own communities through social support, navigation, health coaching, and advocacy. They often share life experiences with the people they serve, and exude trust-building traits that build strong connections in the communities in which they live and work. Across the nation, CHWs are positively impacting diverse communities around chronic disease management, health insurance enrollment, immunization access, mental health services, and more. Overall employment of CHWs is projected to grow 13% by 2029. However, while the need for CHWs is growing in both interest and demand, the practice lacks openly available training opportunities.

Through this award, project partners aim to expand the recruitment and training of CHWs from underserved communities statewide using a health system approach to build a sustainable workforce that can address both health system and community needs.

Community partners:
Wisconsin Area Health Education Centers, UW Interprofessional Continuing Education Partnership, UW Collaborative Center for Health Equity, Walnut Way, Employ Milwaukee

Academic partner:
Lauren Bauer, MD, MPH, Medical College of Wisconsin

Project Updates:

  • Convened a dynamic Community Health Worker (CHW) Advisory Council consisting of diverse stakeholders from other Area Health Education Center (AHEC) regions, education/academia, business, nonprofit sector, and health systems

  • Conducted 20 interviews with CHW Supervisor/Employers and 19 interviews with CHWs to better understand training needs, training satisfaction, and perspectives of the CHW role and its value

  • Implemented two cohorts of CHW learners enrolling 25 students in Fall 2021 and 50 students in Spring 2022

  • Continued to enhance the CHW curriculum and training materials based on project learnings and feedback

  • Working with various Milwaukee-based community organizations to support recruitment of participants and aid in the development of the curriculum in Spanish

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8701 W Watertown Plank Road,
Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509
(414) 955-4350