Center for Healthy Communities & Research

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Community Health Advocate Model Program


In 1999, a successful community health advocate program was developed at Highland Park (now Highland Gardens) by a partnership comprised of the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, S.E.T. Ministry, Inc., and the Center for Healthy Communities in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin.  The purpose of this partnership was to develop and implement an advocate program in which housing residents at Highland Park would become trained in community advocacy, and be able to support other residents with broad health concerns and, if necessary, refer them to the proper resources in the community.

Using a broad definition of health, the advocates addressed the the community needs in the building by developing safety, spirituality, and health education programs.  The advocates have also conducted several community-building activities that promote socialization and community connectedness, such as a coffee club and a weekly discussion group.  They have sponsored annual health fairs open to all public housing high-rise residents, and health presentations given by Medical College of Wisconsin students and faculty.  The advocates helped develop a community resource guide for Highland residents seeking health and social services.

The advocate program has been funded through private foundations and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The partnership jointly developed and submitted a proposal to the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program to expand the advocate program to three other developments.  In December 2004, the partnership was awarded a 3-year, $450,000 grant from the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program.


Goals of the Program:

  • Develop a community health advocate program
  • Assess health risk of residents and develop and implement health
  • Implement effective health promotion strategies at selected public housing buildings
  • Sustain, evaluate, and disseminate the community health advocate model.

Accomplishments to Date:

  • Developed curriculum to train the residents that will be recruited as advocates
  • Recruited 20 residents from four Milwaukee public housing sites to be trained as advocated for their buildings
  • Successfully trained the residents to be advocates in their buildings
  • Established health resource centers in the four public housing sites
  • Conducted a baseline health risk assessment of community members
  • A CHAMP Toolkit has been disseminated to all Milwaukee public housing sites and to the larger community
  • Advocates, in collaboration with partners, have researched and assessed the best practices interventions to address health risk behaviors

Funding Source:

Program Contacts:

Marie Wolff

Staci Young
© 2015 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 06/18/2014