Wisconsin receives nearly $6M to help public health orgs, AmeriCorps recruitment

NOW: Wisconsin receives nearly $6M to help public health orgs, AmeriCorps recruitment

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Federal, state and local officials announced nearly $6 million to help community and public health organizations after two years of the pandemic has strained the workforce for the field.

"This new funding provided by the American Rescue Plan to build up AmeriCorps programs and community and public health organizations'  exceptional work in response to the pandemic," Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes said in a news conference at the Sixteenth Street Community Health Clinic.

The funds come from the American Rescue Plan Act and will support four Wisconsin organizations to recruit more than 200 AmeriCorps members, including Sixteenth Street Community Health Center, Wisconsin Association of Free & Charitable Clinics, United Way Fox Cities and Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation.

AmeriCorps is the federal agency for national service and volunteerism.

Those members will help the programs following the strain on the public health workforce caused by the pandemic.

"I can tell you from personal experience that we are really challenged moving people into the public health workforce and how desperately we need talented young people," Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said.

The funds will support community clinics like Sixteenth Street Community Health Center, where Ximena Vaca, an AmeriCorps member, works as a resource navigator.

"I think it's important that there's this type of funding because people like me get to be here and get to serve the underserved," Vaca told CBS 58. "We're able to educate and let the people know that these types of services are available for them whenever they need them."

Officials say the funds are being allocated now and the first class of new AmeriCorps members will be sworn in in the fall.

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