A Healthier Wisconsin


Developing community-led, culturally responsive messaging, micro-campaigns, and supports for communities of color in Milwaukee County

Full Project Name:STOP COVID-19: Co-Design Culturally Relevant Risk-Reduction Communication for Vulnerable Communities in Milwaukee CountyPrimary Community Organization:City of Milwaukee Health DepartmentPrimary Academic Partner:Zeno Franco, PhD, Family and Community MedicineAward Amount:$500,000.00
Award Date
Project Duration:8 months

Project Description Narrative:

Mass crisis communications that do not adequately tailor messaging to address cross-cultural differences have been shown to fail. In past crises, conveying information to vulnerable groups through traditional means has been ineffective because these groups did not trust or adopt directives from traditional communicators. In Milwaukee County, early COVID-19 pandemic data show disproportionate spread and mortality in the African-American community, with concerns for Latino, southeast Asian, and Native American communities as well. To reduce mortality and the burden on health systems, establishing culturally responsive crisis communications strategies with vulnerable communities is key.

Through this award, project partners will use a three-tiered approach to rapidly improve communication of guidelines for communities less aware of or less able to respond to Wisconsin's Safer at Home order, and will pilot online training with community health workers and public health outreach personnel to respond to mental health and wellbeing needs among these communities.

Additional community partners: Milwaukee County Office on African American Affairs, Milwaukee County Emergency Operations Center, City of Milwaukee Health Department Public Health Laboratory

Additional MCW academic partners: Katinka Hooyer, PhD, Family and Community Medicine; Riccardo Colella, DO, MPH, Emergency Medicine

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Identified key messages and partnered with Milwaukee-based communications firms to rapidly adapt messages for target populations, resulting in more than 3 million impressions through social media, 95 million impressions through TV advertisements, 96,000 impressions through print ads, 21 million impressions through radio ads, and 599,000 impressions through outdoor media
  • Developed an online curriculum for community health workers focused on COVID-19, including the pandemic’s impact on mental health; hired 14 community health workers who served more than 3,500 families and nearly 350 businesses and organizations and distributed more than 23,000 cloth face masks
  • Leveraged over $67,000 in in-kind support
  • Dessimated project approaches through multiple media and other outlets, including a segment on PBS Wisconsin and an MCW News article

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