Just Recovery for Racial Equity Initiative

Just Recovery for Racial Equity Initiative

Health inequities pre-date COVID-19, and throughout the pandemic, Black, indigenous, and communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Strategies are needed that explicitly center the needs and assets of these communities. The Just Recovery for Racial and Ethnic Communities Initiative seeks to mobilize community-based organizations and local residents to partner with public organizations to mitigate the adverse impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. COVID-19 disparities are driven by the same factors driving health disparities broadly, including systemic racism and divestment in communities. Therefore, this initiative seeks to support not only mitigation and recovery, but also to support community resilience and build capacity and efforts that address the root drivers of disparities.

The purpose of the Community Advisory Team is to ensure community participation and oversight of the work and resulting products created as part of the racial/ethnic just recovery project. A core group of key informants from target communities (i.e. communities of color across the state) will be engaged in conversations that will offer guidance, input, and review of plans and products related to the just recovery efforts.

Development of Culturally Appropriate COVID Materials

Ensuring all communities have access to timely, relevant, and culturally appropriate information related to COVID-19 is a key piece of the Just Recovery initiative. A  communications partner or partners will be solicited for the development of an appropriate communications strategy, as well as participate in the identification and tailoring of key messages, development of subsequent communications materials, and guidance on dissemination.

Development of Broader Public Health Messaging

In addition to communication around COVID-19 guidance there is also a need for communication that addresses broader narratives of health. Disparities experienced by COVID-19 are driven by the same factors that contribute to other health disparities, and narrative around health is traditionally one that leans heavily on individual behavior and neglects the role of underlying systems and structures in the development of health and perpetuation of health disparities.

Partnership for the Dissemination of Materials

Ensuring that key materials and information are easily accessible and shared broadly with target communities is critical for public health communication. The development of a broad, diverse communications network helps to ensure that materials developed are received and shared in a timely manner. Partners from target communities across the state will be identified and recruited for participation in a dissemination network, whose primary role will be to receive and share relevant communications with their partners and community. The dissemination network will also support the identification of other relevant communication methods and channels to expand the reach of information.

Innovation Support for Community Partners Working on COVID Response and Recovery

Many community organizations are already actively involved in efforts to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 or have ideas for how this work can be successful. Recognizing the expertise of communities and the ongoing efforts to address COVID-19 happening at the community level, a portion of funds will be dedicated to support the advancement of work initiated by community partners. As such, funds will be allocated to support work driven by target communities, and to aggregate and disseminate the success stories and lessons learned from such efforts so that communities can continue to learn from one another.

Evaluation Support

Evaluation support is critical to ensure that knowledge gained from this project is appropriately documented and disseminated. An evaluation lens will be leveraged across the initiative broadly, with the expectation that the evaluation partner will support assessment across all aspects of the work, including support for the development of appropriate metrics, documentation of lessons learned and challenges experiences, capturing project success, and generally packaging knowledge and insights gained from this project for dissemination.

Point of contact

If you have questions, you can email: matchwi@wisc.edu

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  • Data clearly indicate that communities of color bear a disproportionate burden of illness and death from COVID-19.1,2
  • Data from some states and localities have suggested substantially higher rates of confirmed cases and deaths for Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) individuals than for white or Asian persons.3,4
  • Ensuring all communities have relevant, readily available information relating to community resources, testing availability, social support and other mitigation strategies is an important aspect of reducing disparities.
  • Though COVID-19 presents immediate concerns, the pandemic disparities are illustrative of larger structural and systemic issues that result in disparities across the spectrum of health. Thus, responses to COVID-19 must be mindful of these broader issues, and intervention strategies must explore both immediate and long-term solutions.
  • Additional information on Wisconsin-specific racial and ethinic disparity data can be found here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/disparities.htm 


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in the United States. Retrieved April 23, 2020 from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html

2. U.S. Census Bureau. QuickFacts: United States. Retrieved April 23, 2020 from: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045218

3. Kaiser Family Foundation. Growing Data Underscore that Communities of Color are Being Harder Hit by COVID-19. Retrieved April 24, 2020 from: https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-policy-watch/growing-data-underscore-communities-color-harder-hit-covid-19/

4. California Department of Public Health. COVID-19 Race and Ethnicity Data. Retrieved April 26, 2020 from: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Race-Ethnicity.aspx


The Governor’s Office has invested $2.6 million in the Just Recovery for Racial Equity Initiative. These funds will be used to support community-based organizations, a community advisory team, and communications development and dissemination resources.