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Want to keep up with the Public Policy Institute? Check this page for events, commentary, and announcements.

The coronavirus pandemic has put many people's health and incomes at risk. Here are some tips for landlords for communicating with your tenants during this public health emergency. Questions? Contact our Rent HelpLine at 414-270-4646 or

Although there is a temporary ban on evictions right now due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's important for tenants to stay on top of their rent and utilities bills. If you're having trouble making ends meet, contact our Rent HelpLine at 414-270-4646 or

These are unusual, difficult times for young people and families. Fortunately, there are many resources available to those who need assistance during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health emergency. We’ve collected some of them here to help youth and families stay healthy, keep up with their bills, and make sure their needs are being met.

Resources on health, mental health, community services and more in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and nationally for guidance during the coronavirus public health emergency.

In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Community Advocates Public Policy Institute led fellow advocates, nurses, educators, social workers, the faith community, and more, in sending a letter to the Governor of Wisconsin making a number of recommendations that would help limit the impact of coronavirus.

News about COVID-19 (or coronavirus) is changing by the hour, with public events and venues closing in response. As prevention advocates, we are trying to get the word out about how to halt the spread of COVID-19 in its tracks so that its impact is marginal. Check out these resources.

On February 6, 2020, a new FDA regulation went into effect banning certain types of e-cigarettes thought to be most attractive to youth -- reusable pod-based devices in all flavors except tobacco and menthol. New types of disposable e-cigarettes, however, seem to have no trouble blasting through the many loopholes in the new federal regulation. Take Puff Bars, for example, which seem to be replacing JUULs as the go-to vape device that appeals to youth.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute’s new report, "Home Is Where Our Health Is: Policies to Improve the Health of Renters in Milwaukee and Beyond," recommends 32 key federal, state, and local policy changes that would improve housing outcomes, advance racial and economic equity, and cultivate healthier communities.

Childhood lead poisoning is far too common in Milwaukee, and it has powerfully negative lifetime effects on health. Describing “what needs to be done” to prevent childhood lead exposures is relatively simple, but doing what needs to be done is not easy.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute is proud to be a partner in the City of Milwaukee’s free gun lock distribution initiative. The Milwaukee-based Master Lock Company donated 1,000 keyed gun locks to the city’s Office of Violence Prevention, which is distributing them to community partners and individuals. The gun locks are available upon request at Community Advocates’ downtown offices’ front desk at 728 N. James Lovell St., Milwaukee, during regular business hours.

“Although there has been some confusion around how this new policy will be enforced, all retailers across the country are now required to follow federal law, and should only sell tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to adults 21 and older,” said Anneke Mohr, Coordinator of the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance.

We all know that we need to engage with, listen to, and support young people before they begin using substances so that we can prevent them from misusing them or becoming addicted. Throughout 2019, the Public Policy Institute’s prevention team has sought out opportunities to work with youth and allow them to shine.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute's policy team in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, tackled healthy housing, transitional jobs, reentry of formerly incarcerated individuals, the safety net, and more in 2019.

As part of my work as Contract Monitor for our partners in the Milwaukee Brighter Futures Initiative, I am able to witness the real-world application of Botvin LifeSkills Training among the youth in our community. I’m frequently impressed by how well the facilitators are able to adapt and amplify the lessons they explore in the LifeSkills curriculum with the young people they serve.

Milwaukee Fire Department Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski says the next step in preventing overdoses is being taken with the formation of the Milwaukee Overdose Response Initiative (MORI), which pairs Milwaukee Fire Department community firefighter paramedics with two peer supports to engage individuals who’d overdosed the previous day.

An estimated 24% of Wisconsinites binge drink, compared to the national median of 16%, and on average they had 4.1 binge drinking episodes per month. That put Wisconsin at #2 in the nation for binge drinking.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute was thrilled to support its Founding Director and Senior Fellow David Riemer’s latest endeavor, the book Putting Government in Its Place: The Case for a New Deal 3.0, in which David argues that the New Deal Era is not dead. In fact, now is the perfect time to update it to address our current needs and disparities.

Milwaukee’s prevention community got creative when they raised awareness of the importance of substance abuse prevention during Red Ribbon Week 2019 (October 17-31). “We want to carry the spirit of Red Ribbon Week with us throughout the year,” said Amanda Clark, Coordinator of the 53206 Drug-Free Communities Project.

It’s always a good time to celebrate the benefits of living drug free, and Red Ribbon Week (October 23-31), sponsored by National Family Partnership, is one of the better opportunities to raise awareness and show support for substance-free activities. This year’s theme is “Send a message. Stay drug free,” and the organizers provide a number of ways you can send the message you care about building a drug-free community.

“We’re looking forward to a lively discussion on what residents and elected officials can do to target underage drinking as well as binge drinking among adults,” said Jazzmyne Adams, Coordinator of the Southeast Region of the Alliance for Wisconsin Youth. “We think that Wisconsin is ready for this conversation.”

Join the Alliance for Wisconsin Youth and the Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition for this one-of-a-kind look at our drinking culture, both nationally and in Wisconsin, and what local advocates and elected officials can to do prevent the harm associated with problematic alcohol consumption.

“There have been a number of drug take-back events in communities surrounding the Amani neighborhood, but until now no one has organized one in Amani,” said Amanda Clark, Coordinator of the 53206 Drug-Free Communities Project.

Dr. Michael McNett is presenting “Alternatives to Opioids in Treating Acute and Chronic Pain” for primary care physicians, specialty physicians, allied health professionals, nurses, social workers and staff on two dates in September. Participants will learn why opioids should only be used as a last resort in treating acute and chronic pain, and which non-opioid medications and techniques treat acute and/or chronic pain.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies gathered to provide support and connection at Milwaukee’s first LGBTQ+ Youth Substance Use Prevention Summit at the Stackner Cabaret on August 8. Organized by the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance, the 53206 Drug-Free Communities Project, and Safe & Sound’s 27th Street West Drug Free Coalition, the evening featured a resource fair, panel discussion, video presentations, dinner, and a drag show.

On Thursday, the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance and our partners are presenting a LGBTQ+ Youth Substance Use Prevention Summit, which will feature two panels, one that will speak to substance use and another about tobacco use. As I’m learning with both the Racial Justice Workshop and LGBTQ+ Summit, we all need to practice active listening, which means listening to what a person has to say and listening without passing judgment.

Now in its third week, the Real-ationships in Milwaukee's Moody Park initiative is really rolling. The program brings together youth who hang out in the park with law enforcement officers who typically work there with the hope that they will learn more about each other, see the other’s viewpoint, and find ways to share the park in a safe, fun, and peaceful way.

Real-ationships in Moody Park was created by Safe & Sound, Zeidler Center for Public Discussion, Milwaukee Police Department, Friends of Moody Park, Community Advocates, Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, and COA-Goldin Center, thanks to a ReCAST MKE Safe Summer Community Healing Project grant released by the City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention.

Eight teenagers (and possibly six more) were hospitalized recently with severe lung damage that doctors suspect is the result of vaping. They had extreme cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and vomiting and diarrhea causing weight loss. As of this time, health care professionals aren’t sure what they were vaping.

The Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention coalition (MCSAP) elected two long-time members to leadership positions: City of Milwaukee Fire Department Assistant Chief Aaron Lipski was elected Coalition Chair and Alicia Malinger, the cofounder of the West Allis-West Milwaukee Heroin/Opiate Task Force and Safe & Supported group facilitator, was elected Co-Chair of the Prescription Drug Workgroup.

Minority Mental Health Awareness Month launched in July 2008 to draw attention to the unique mental health experiences and challenges faced by members of minority communities. To improve our collective understanding of minority mental health, here’s a list of resources, an app, services, and toolkits.

“My biggest takeaway is a reminder for me to be consistently aware of the trauma that others have experienced,” said Jazzmyne Adams, coordinator of the Southeast Region of the Alliance for Wisconsin Youth (AWY). “This includes physical, emotional and mental traumas. Just as with any epidemic that we face, mental health issues do not discriminate.”

Summertime formally launched on June 7 at COA Youth & Family Centers’ Safe Summer Kickoff in Moody Park, which drew hundreds of kids and adults who enjoyed food, entertainment, raffles, and community.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute’s trainings always strive to address specific needs in our community. But our newest training—Youth Reentry Support, sponsored by the City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention—is particularly timely, as it targets the needs of youth and young adults who are coming home after incarceration. The training provides information about the closing of Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prisons in Northern Wisconsin, how institutionalization affects youth, and resources in Milwaukee County to help youth transition into the community.

Like a lot of smokers, Amanda is trying to quit. What’s helping her to reduce the number of cigarettes she smokes every day is the lack of spaces where she is allowed to smoke. “When I’m in places where I can’t smoke, it’s encouraging,” Amanda said. “I don’t smell it, so I don’t feel like I’m enticed to go smoke. Even bars and restaurants are smoke free. I can just enjoy myself without thinking about smoking.”

Circles of Support are forming throughout Milwaukee to explore hope, healing, and accountability in restorative justice-style gatherings that include returned citizens, community members, and a circle keeper. Community Advocates hosts a circle.

The Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention coalition (MCSAP) revealed its new strategic plan to its members last week, the result of 10 months of brainstorming, debate, and visioning.

One in four tobacco retailers in the City of Milwaukee sold tobacco or nicotine products to underage youth during 2018 compliance checks, according to newly released data from Wisconsin Wins.

On Saturday, April 27, Take Back My Meds MKE and Safe & Sound will be sponsoring a drug take-back event at Christ-St. Peter Lutheran School Lot, 2137 W. Greenfield Ave., Milwaukee, from 12 noon to 3 p.m. Stop by with your unused medications and any questions you have about how to get rid of your unwanted pills safely.

“We typically think of poverty as being an urban phenomenon,” explained Scott Allard at a community conversation held at the West Allis City Hall on March 28 sponsored by Community Advocates Public Policy Institute and the City of West Allis.

Would you know how to help someone who was having a panic attack? Who was having a psychotic episode? A bout of depression or serious thoughts of suicide? Forget knowing how to help someone. Do you even know what these experiences look like?

Too many young people think that smoking weed is the best way to have fun, cope with stress, and be cool. But, as they learned at the Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition’s Third Annual Youth Summit on March 15, there are plenty of ways to achieve a natural high. Keynote speakers Kwabena Antoine Nixon and Khalil Coleman inspired the 100 participants to do great things instead of getting hooked on drugs.

Triblett reminded the group that "risk and protective factors are not a promise."

One of the great things about working at the Public Policy Institute is being able to incorporate local members of Public Allies into our workplace. Public Allies helps to train and place diverse up-and-coming leaders in local nonprofits so they can fulfill their mission to help others and create lasting change in our communities.

The economy is booming, we’re told. Yet many Wisconsinites are not thriving. That was the theme taken up by three legislators—State Senator LaTonya Johnson, State Representative Evan Goyke, and State Representative Daniel Riemer—in our February 8 State Leaders Look Ahead panel moderated by PPI’s Research and Program Manager Mike Bare.

"The only way to prevent a new generation of nicotine-addicted youth is for the FDA to follow through on their promise to prevent the sale of flavored products to youth. Unless we continue raise our voices, we will not see a change in the rising rates of nicotine addiction," notes Anneke Mohr, coordinator of the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance.

The City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention is sponsoring FREE training opportunities in partnership with Community Advocates Public Policy Institute.    

Light & Unite Red is a community-wide prevention committee led by the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division (BHD). Throughout the week, several schools and youth organizations in Milwaukee County are encouraging their students to wear red, the national color for substance abuse awareness.

"Although we’ve taken on a big, community-wide challenge, we’re always focused on how our programs and partners are impacting the daily lives of individuals," said Public Policy Institute Deputy Director Kari Lerch.

This month, Milwaukee’s Transitional Jobs programs celebrated their achievements and said farewell and thank you to Secretary of Children and Families Eloise Anderson, who championed Transitional Jobs as a way to preserve families and provide a path to employment for eager men seeking work.

Members of the Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention (MCSAP) coalition typically use their six yearly meetings to learn about best practices in prevention and organize events. The final meeting of 2018 offered all that—plus a chance to celebrate their achievements throughout the year.