Where Do You Find Public Health Grants?

April 26, 2022 Posted by Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH


We all know that Wisconsin is a great state. But Wisconsin has some health problems, including some of the most pronounced racial and socioeconomic disparities in the nation.

One avenue to improve the wellness of Wisconsinites is by using public health grants to fund innovative solutions to some of our most thorny health challenges.

Where can grant seekers go to find public health grants in Wisconsin? Even more important, why does Wisconsin require such an investment in public health outcomes?

Wisconsin’s Health Snapshot—We’re Not Doing So Hot

Wisconsin has some of the worst health indicators and disparities in the US. For example,

  • Public health funding is ranked 49th
  • Residential segregation is ranked 50th
  • Excessive drinking is ranked 50th
  • Low birthweight racial disparity is ranked 50th
  • Stroke deaths are ranked 38th
  • Diabetes deaths are ranked 35th

When some of these statistics are broken down by racial or socioeconomic data, or considering rural versus urban data, things look even worse. 

Clearly, everyone who’s interested in improving Wisconsin’s health has their work cut out for them. 

Foundations in Wisconsin Database

Foundations in Wisconsin Online is a database run by Marquette University. Grant seekers pay a yearly fee to get access to the database: $150 for nonprofits and $211 for for-profit organizations. 

The database is updated monthly with much of the information needed to apply for a grant: the relevant contact information, personnel, donors, financial information, geographic focus, and application details. 

The information in the database also usually includes the amounts of total grants paid, the range and median amounts of grants, and the areas of interest.

The creators of the database find most of the data in the tax returns filed by foundations, and they supplement it with survey results, foundation websites, and annual reports. By looking at a tax return, you can also determine whether the foundation accepts unsolicited requests for funds. 

Foundations in Wisconsin Online is a great investment for grant seekers who want to understand the big picture of what funding is available, and for which types of projects and collaborations. 

But when you’re researching grants, it’s important to think broadly about potential sources and keep in mind that there are many opportunities outside of foundations. 

Department of Health Services Grants

Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS) has a great interest in improving the health of all Wisconsinites. The large state agency has an annual budget of more than $11 billion. It oversees Medicaid and operates three institutions. It also issues grants to organizations that are helping to solve some of Wisconsin’s health problems.

For example, the DHS is currently requesting applications (RFA) for supporting Native communities in recovering from COVID-19, helping people transition from homelessness, addressing food insecurity, and opioid treatment.

The agency website has plenty of public information available on these grants because they are taxpayer funded, and accountable to us all. 

For example, the public notice of the availability of the “Supporting Native Nations Communities in Prevention and Recovery from COVID-19 and Beyond” grant highlights the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on Wisconsin’s Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). They are seeking innovative solutions to strengthen community health and empower people in collaborative efforts to address needs. 

Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment Grants

People often don’t realize that endowments are also an excellent source of public health grants. The Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment provides grants to nonprofit community organizations that are improving the health of all Wisconsinites. Working with partner community organizations, AHW has invested in increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, improving trauma screening, reducing cancer disparities, ending the cycle of family violence, and much more. 

Since 2004, AHW has invested more than $300 million in promising biomedical research, supporting community health initiatives, and building the health workforce needed by Wisconsin. 

In addition, our Experiential Projects in Community Health provides funding to Medical College of Wisconsin learners who are implementing community-based health improvement projects as part of Wisconsin-based community organizations. 

The grants we award are investments in initiatives that create a healthy environment for innovators, collaborators, and problem solvers across the following 4 pathways:

  1. Basic, clinical, and translational research that advances the work of biomedical researchers and translates discoveries from laboratories and classrooms to communities.
  2. Education and workforce development that meets the health needs of all Wisconsinites.
  3. Population and community health programs, policies, and practices that address the root causes of health disparities and outcomes.
  4. Policy, systems, and culture change to assist partners in transforming policies and systems to make wellness accessible to everyone across the state.

You can learn about current Funding Opportunities and application requirements on the AHW website. Remember to check back frequently for updates because Funding Opportunities are released throughout the year. 

Wisconsin Partnership Program

Another crucial avenue for grant funding is our sister organization, Wisconsin Partnership Program, which works with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health to fund research, education, and community partnerships. 

Since 2004, the Partnership Program has awarded hundreds of grants to advance treatments for disease and injury and spur innovation in medical education. It has also invested in efforts to improve maternal and child health, reduce drug and alcohol use, and advance health equity.

Solving Problems Together

No matter which aspect of public health you’re looking at, it’s clear that Wisconsin has some serious challenges. However, practitioners, researchers, and community-based organizations are working to turn that around.

Connecting more innovators and community-minded Wisconsinites with needed funds will guarantee a healthier future for us all.

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