LSS awarded $400,000 Community Impact Grant by the Wisconsin Partnership Program

Published Jan 10, 2024
By: LSS Staff

For Immediate Release

LSS awarded $400,000 Community Impact Grant by the Wisconsin Partnership Program

The non-profit will share part of the grant with its academic partner UWM.

WEST ALLIS, Wis., Jan. 10, 2024 – Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) is excited to announce it has been awarded a Community Impact Grant by the Wisconsin Partnership Program (WPP) at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. The $482,228 grant is for the initiative “Improving Social Determinants of Health Factors Through Utilization of a Family Coach.”

Social Determinants of Health, as defined by U.S department of Health and Human Services, are conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. They are things like income, educations, job security, transportation, childhood development, food security, health services, and housing.

Through this project, LSS, and its academic partner the Institute for Child and Family Well-Being, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, will seek to improve the mental health crisis facing youth in historically impoverished communities in Milwaukee County. LSS will implement family coaching services and community engagement to address these social stressors and structural barriers that contribute to poor health and wellness outcomes.

LSS introduced the family coach in 2018 as part of its School Centered Mental Health program. Family coaches offer direct service to families, including mental health education, skill development, and assistance in navigating social systems to access resources like employment, housing, and food. However, LSS President & CEO Héctor Colón says they do so much more:

“Family coaches are walking, riding the bus, and going grocery shopping with families — to better understand and address their issues like homelessness, job loss, and food insecurity. Family coaches even help with things like enrollment paperwork and phone calls. With these burdens eased, families can focus on other aspects related to wellness, and mental health.”

LSS colleagues know the impact communities have on improving mental health. “This community impact grant allows LSS to bring together members of the community to address the struggles in meeting everyday needs,” said Amanda Krzykowski, LSS Director of Performance and Quality Improvement, “We see the community as the experts, the problem solvers. We want to establish meaningful partnerships that will guide us to help advance health equity in Milwaukee.” Kathy Markeland, Executive Director at the Wisconsin Association of Family and Children’s Agencies (WAFCA) acknowledged LSS’s commitment to innovation and advocacy in the social services sector.

“As a founding member of our association, LSS has long been a force for innovation and a strong voice for the human services sector and the people we serve,” said Markeland “the Family Coach model holds promise for broadening the pathways to meaningful careers in community health – valuable work that is not currently funded through our traditional school, health care and public health systems.”

Over the past three years, LSS has served 240 families in Milwaukee, with 200 of them receiving direct support from one or more of the organization’s programs. Colón expressed the organization’s commitment to addressing the challenges faced by families dealing with mental health issues.

With the Community Impact grant, Lutheran Social Services says it is one step closer to its vision of creating healthy communities filled with people using their God-given gifts to serve. LSS extends its gratitude to the WPP and looks to utilize the grant to make a lasting positive impact on the lives and communities it serves.


Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) is made up of nearly 800 Servant-Leaders including licensed therapists, professional social workers and counselors, and certified peer specialists located throughout our two-state reach. Every year, our colleagues strengthen families, inspire recovery, and empower independence & belonging for nearly 30,000 individuals and families at every stage of life. Driven by the belief in the infinite worth of every person, LSS provides affordable housing & homelessness services; public adoption & foster care; long-term care & disability services; refugee resettlement; residential treatment for substance use disorder & mental illness; and additional supportive community-based services.

George Kmetty, Public Relations Specialist

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