365 Media Foundation, the nonprofit organization that operates Madison365, is one of 100 organizations to receive a total of $6.2 million from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to help marginalized and underserved communities get access to coronavirus vaccines.
The investment aims to increase vaccinations by supporting organizations to serve as trusted messengers within their communities, build vaccine confidence, and reduce barriers that hinder vaccine access for marginalized or underserved populations, according to a DHS press release.
COVID-19 disproportionately affected communities of color, who are now less likely than white Wisconsinites to have been vaccinated.
“This pandemic has highlighted existing health inequities in Wisconsin and across the nation. Black, Indigenous, and people of color experience higher rates of infection, hospitalizations, and death from COVID-19. This grant program is rooted in the understanding that community-based organizations and trusted messengers are in the best position to promote acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination and increase accessibility to the vaccine within their communities,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “As part of our work to reach an 80% vaccination rate across our state, we have to ensure those Wisconsinites that have been hit hardest by the pandemic have the opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus.”
“This major investment to promote health equity in Wisconsin is essential to bounce back from the pandemic together,” Governor Tony Evers said in a statement. “Ongoing efforts to distribute the vaccine safely, efficiently, and equitably must include strategies to ensure that vaccines reach communities that face barriers to accessing medical care and people who may have a justifiable mistrust of the medical community and vaccines. We are excited that we can support our partners on the ground in their communities doing this work.”
“Over the past five years, we’ve built a great deal of trust among Wisconsin’s communities of color, as well as the infrastructure to reach them,” said Madison365 CEO Henry Sanders. “We’re eager to get to work helping people overcome barriers so they can get themselves and their families protected. We are grateful to the state for trusting us to be part of the team that will help Wisconsin defeat COVID.”
Grants range in amount from $10,000 up to $100,000. The organizations involved include community-based organizations, local and tribal health departments, school districts, and health systems. Madison365 will receive $49,500 to support coverage of vaccination efforts on Madison365.org and Madison365 podcasts, as well as production of informational videos, hosting of a virtual town hall on vaccine awareness, production of a public service announcement and more.
The full list of grantees is available here.