Addressing Poverty in Northeast Wisconsin

Posted at 5:43 PM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-16 18:43:02-05

APPLETON, Wis.- A program is bringing three of the largest communities in Northeast Wisconsin together to tackle poverty in the region.  Winnebago, Outagamie and Brown counties are all supporting the effort.

Despite many attempts to alleviate poverty in recent years the numbers have remained steady and now out-of-state help is coming to the dairy state.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) from Cambridge, MA is working closely with U.S. Venture and several other agencies to launch a program they've had success with elsewhere.  Currently Northeast Wisconsin would be only the third city to implement this 18 month plan to move the needle on poverty.
"We know that poverty has been increasing exponentially in the last 3 to 5 years," explained ThedaCare community health manager, Paula Morgen.
Morgen has done worth with IHI in the past and she says this is a great program for Northeast Wisconsin.
"They've shown significant improvement with social issues like poverty or obesity," said Morgen.
According to U.S. Venture director of community engagement and giving, Greg Vandenberg, the program couldn't come at a better time.
"Usually poverty and unemployment are in a parallel if you look at a graph and they're not anymore," said Vandenberg.
He says something has changed and the plan is to figure out what that is and how to help people get on their feet again.  Vandenberg says he's confident change can happen because of how much community support the program is getting regionally.
"Communities are often resource rich, but coordination poor," said Vandenberg.
Nearly 200 business and non profits are expected to fill the Radisson in Appleton the rest of the week as they work to help a growing population in Northeast Wisconsin.