News & Events


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

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.

"Place matters."

That’s the assessment of smoke-free advocates who presented their work to local and state leaders on November 17 as part of the "Unequal Killer: A Legislative Breakfast," sponsored by the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center. Place matters not only for tobacco marketing and access, but it matters, too, for how we can implement solutions to the problem.

Save a life by following these safe medication disposal procedures

Please join our Circles of Support with the goal of supporting you on your journey to take your rightful place in the community after prison.

The New Bucks' Arena central Neighborhood will be entirely Smoke-Free.

Question, Persuade, Refer Suicide Prevention Model

$1,000.00 grants awarded mid-year by Alliance for Wisconsin Youth (AWY)

Reminder of Suicide Prevention Resources, Telephone Numbers and Websites

There’s a growing awareness of the less obvious forms of institutional racism (racism that effects people at a societal level), like neighborhood segregation, access to healthy food, and the wealth gap.

Chill on the Hill celebrates its third year of being smoke-free.

Although the residents who wanted to shut down S&S Liquor faced challenges, they were ultimately successful in not allowing the renewal of the store’s license. The residents who testified for a safer and better neighborhood did so because they were free, free from the trauma of drugs and violence and free to envision the Amani neighborhood as a better place for their children.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute researchers and Community Advocates housing specialists are working with academics and community partners to look into Milwaukee’s housing stock, market, history, and current policies to see how they connect to health issues. In future years, we’ll expand to other parts of the state of Wisconsin.

The new location consists of a large central area filled with screens, overhead outlets, and flexible-use furniture that can be repositioned for individual work, small-group activities, or larger group presentations or workshops.

Here again, racial disparities are apparent. Almost two-thirds (60.7%) of African American infants who die were preemies, while one-third (32.6%) of white babies who die before their first birthday were born premature.

The 53206 Drug-Free Communities project, housed at Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, is working on all of the above in their effort to improve the health and quality of life of Amani residents on the near North Side.

When you’re facing a challenge that seems insurmountable, the last thing you want to hear is what you’re doing wrong, even if the criticism is well intended. On the other hand, perhaps the best thing you can discover is what you’re doing right and utilizing your strengths to solve your problems.

The Nurturing Program has evolved tremendously in the past 35 years, and now encompasses evidence-based programs appropriate for all forms of prevention -- primary, secondary and tertiary -- as well as programs developed for specific populations, such as teens, or veterans and their families. Programs range from five to 18 sessions or more depending upon the participants being served. 

There’s increasing awareness that these largely unregulated nicotine delivery systems pose harm not just to the individual who’s vaping, but to those who surround them. The vape cloud emitted by e-cigarettes isn’t just water vapor, but a toxic mix of chemicals.