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Baldwin grants awarded to eight projects

June 9, 2020

The environment, health care, democracy. These are just a few of the important subjects addressed by eight projects selected for grants from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment.

The Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment is a competitive grant program that fosters public engagement and the advancement of the Wisconsin Idea, the notion that the knowledge and solutions generated at UW–Madison will benefit the people of Wisconsin, the nation and the world.

All of these projects were proposed before the COVID-19 outbreak and will make adjustments as needed to follow safety guidelines.

The eight grants (condensed from their submissions) are:

Addressing the Environmental Impacts of Chloride in Wastewater Treatment Plant Effluents
Kyoung-Shin Choi, professor, Department of Chemistry, College of Letters & Science

Every day the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is faced with a salt problem. Dissolved salt is composed of chloride that is harmful to aquatic life if the concentration gets too high. The work proposed here is to develop a transformative chloride-removal technology by engaging with the MMSD and other community partners in Wisconsin to address the detrimental environmental impacts of high Cl- levels in wastewater treatment plant effluents. The game-changing chloride removal process that we are developing will have a momentous environmental impact across the United States and globally, making real the Wisconsin Idea.

Disseminating the Positive Parenting Program across Rural Wisconsin
Brook Berg, outreach program manager, Human Development and Relationships Institute, Division of Extension, and Robert Nix, associate professor, School of Human Ecology

This project will train and certify University of Wisconsin Division of Extension educators to implement the Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) in 16 rural counties representing the highest risk parts of Wisconsin. Triple P has been extensively studied and repeatedly shown to improve parenting skills and child behavior and reduce rates of child maltreatment. This project will ensure broad involvement and investment in the success of Triple P by creating county-based advisory boards consisting of community leaders and a wide range of caregivers, all of whom are committed to transforming the levels of support available to parents and children.

Expanding the Wisconsin Model: Development of a National Workforce Pipeline for Rural OB/GYNs
Ryan Spencer, assistant professor, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, School of Medicine and Public Health

Half of the counties in the United States have no Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB/GYN), and these gaps in providers are more prominent in rural communities. Physicians are three times more likely to practice medicine where they train to care for patients, and the lack of opportunities for OB/GYN trainees to learn in rural communities with the guidance of life-long rural physicians is fracturing the pipeline of talent to small communities. To combat this gap, the University of Wisconsin founded the first and only program in the country which works to recruit, train and retain OB/GYNs who are passionate about a career in rural women’s health care. This project seeks to collaboratively create a Replication Manual and framework for other Rural OB/GYN training programs and disseminate it nationally in partnership with the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG).

Improving Diabetes Programs for Blacks in Wisconsin: Peers as Coaches in Medicine Use
Olayinka Shiyanbola, associate professor, School of Pharmacy

In July 2019, Wisconsin lawmakers called diabetes a “staggering” problem expected to get worse. More than 1,300 Wisconsinites die from diabetes annually and many more suffer diabetes-related complications. This burden is higher among minorities, especially among African Americans. In 2005, African Americans in Wisconsin had higher rates of hospitalization and death from diabetes complications compared to the total Wisconsin population. The goal of this project is to decrease diabetes-related morbidity among African Americans in Milwaukee through the integration of Peers LEAD, a culturally appropriate program to increase medication adherence into an existing diabetes self-management.

The Journalism Game: Scaling Journalistic Practices to Middle School Youth to Support Democracy
Susan Robinson, professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Sarah Gagnon, university relations specialist, Wisconsin Center for Education Research   

In an age of widespread fake news and rampant distrust in public institutions, media literacy is crucial to preserve the values of our state. A partnership between the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Field Day Lab at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) will collaborate with Wisconsin teachers and journalists to produce and disseminate a digital learning game that helps students improve their critical media literacy skills, without which they may be misled by non-credible media sources, be confused about facts, or ignore the news altogether. In the game, which will be disseminated in Wisconsin and nationally, players will assume the role of a journalist and perform the act of journalistic inquiry. Other face-to-face programs have found success using a similar approach but are only able to do so at a small scale.

MOVING FORWARD Jail Reentry Program for Inmates and their Families in Pepin and Buffalo Counties
Mary Campbell Wood, professor, Human Development and Relationships Institute, Division of Extension

Development of the MOVING FORWARD Jail Reentry Program is in response to a study of jail reentry needs and issues, led by UW–Extension in 2018. Under authorization from the Buffalo-Pepin Criminal Justice Collaborating Council (CJCC), a reentry planning committee was formed to develop a pilot program in the Pepin County Jail for inmates, their children and families. UW–Extension Research and Educational Programming Initiative Grant funds helped to launch the pilot in summer 2019. Because a majority of the target audience experience addiction-related challenges, a Certified Reentry Peer Specialist position, in collaboration with Community Justice Services, is an essential program component, requiring funding support. UW-Stout Criminal Justice Rehabilitation interns will assist with implementation and evaluation, benefitting from authentic learning experiences.

Preparing Practitioners to Identify and Address Sex Trafficking in Northeast Wisconsin
Lara Gerassi, assistant professor, School of Social Work

One in four homeless and runaway youth (up to age 25) is at risk of sex trafficking. This Baldwin Wisconsin Idea project proposal builds on an existing, multi-year partnership between UW–Madison and Outagamie County’s Youth and Family Services Division by enhancing the collective response to sex trafficking in 17 counties and three tribes in the Northeast region of Wisconsin.  Post-project sex trafficking knowledge transfer will be established by asking providers for their preferred methods to continue supporting the ongoing identification of and practice with sex trafficked youth (e.g. recorded trainings, toolkits, handbooks, train-the-trainer modules), to be made available to current and newly hired providers after this project concludes.

The Wisconsin Rainfall Project: Enhancing Infrastructure Resiliency to Extreme Rainfall in Wisconsin
Daniel Wright, assistant professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering; and David Lorenz, associate scientist, Center for Climatic Research, Nelson Institute

Recent UW–Madison research, as well as experiences throughout Wisconsin and beyond, have shown that existing storm water and flood control infrastructure is inadequate in the face of increases in extreme rainfall. Existing rainfall design statistics are already more than a decade old and seriously underestimate current and future rainfall conditions in Wisconsin due to rapid climate change. The Wisconsin Rainfall Project will use cutting-edge science to produce both “present-day” and “future climate” rainfall statistics, and will create a community of practice to promote the integration of the best science and engineering knowledge regarding climate change and extreme rainfall into infrastructure design and management. The Wisconsin Rainfall Project will be the first major effort of the newly formed Infrastructure Working Group of the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI), which has been founded to push WICCI’s prior successes into the critical emerging area of climate and infrastructure.

The Baldwin endowment is one of the largest gifts ever received by UW–Madison. Ineva Reilly Baldwin taught and served in the university administration as assistant dean of women and associate dean of the College of Letters & Science. Ira Baldwin, a longtime UW teacher, researcher and administrator, served as dean of the Graduate School and the College of Agriculture and as vice president for academic affairs.

Related: 2020 Baldwin funded seed grant awards

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