The Wei LAB will serve as the academic partner to Nehemiah: Center for Urban Development on a new initiative to improve health and health equity across Wisconsin. The project was recently selected for a $1 million grant through the Wisconsin Partnership Program’s Community Impact Grant program.

Nehemiah will use the grant to expand its Justified Anger initiative through a new program titled Reducing Health Inequity through Promotion of Social Connection, which focuses on reducing disparities in overall health among African Americans by addressing implicit and structural racism.

African Americans in Wisconsin have lower health outcomes than their White neighbors due the powerful influence of their social and community context. Those health disparities include higher rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, premature births and maternal deaths. To address these health disparities, Nehemiah has been piloting an innovative approach to increasing health equity by developing new, and strengthening existing, social and professional networks for African Americans.

This grant will implement a three-tiered approach that will involve education and training for grassroots African American neighborhood leaders, African American professionals, and White allies through its “Justified Anger Black History for a New Day.” The team will facilitate cross-cultural interactions with mentorship support that will result in building and strengthening social networks within each community and will support participants with identifying opportunities for collaborative social action. The Wei LAB is responsible for managing the research and evaluation of the innovative social intervention.

The Wisconsin Partnership Program is part of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. This year, the program awarded four projects with grants each totaling $1 million over five years to support large-scale, evidence-based, community-academic partnerships aimed at achieving sustainable systems changes to improve health equity in Wisconsin.