Advocate Aurora Health Joins Milwaukee Health Leaders to Boost Diverse Hiring and Purchasing

A group of eight healthcare and educational institutions, including UCC-related Advocate Aurora Health, announced Aug. 5 the launch of a new program aiming to significantly increase hiring and corporate spending in Milwaukee’s lowest-income ZIP codes.

The Milwaukee Anchor Collaborative, comprised of major healthcare and educational institutions, has pledged to hire more people of color and spend more with businesses owned by persons of color in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“This is a major commitment by those with the power to make a significant difference,” said Bill Krugler, president of JobsWork MKE, an area nonprofit that organized the collaborative. “We’re excited and optimistic this will help lift more people out of poverty and revitalize neighborhoods that have been neglected for too long.”

In anchor collaboratives, which are forming in cities nationwide, member organizations commit to using their collective economic power to employ residents, and purchase from businesses, in disinvested neighborhoods.

The Milwaukee collaborative launches with seven institutions: Advocate Aurora Health, Ascension Wisconsin, Children’s Wisconsin, Froedtert Health, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette University, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“We know to close the inequities that exist, it’s critically important to have key partners who are aligned with our strategies and ready to collaborate to address the economic and social issues of race, equity, intolerance, systemic disparities,” said Cristy Garcia-Thomas, chief external affairs officer for Advocate Aurora Health. “This new collaborative is a special opportunity to truly drive economic change in Milwaukee alongside fellow health leaders.”

“These anchor institutions already have demonstrated they have the economic power, and commitment to our community, to make a positive impact. Now, working together, their impact will be even greater,” said Timothy Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

“The Milwaukee area health systems, like the collaborative’s education members, are experiencing a great demand for qualified employees and, concurrently, are committed to increasing the diversity of their workforce at every level of their organizations,” said Joy Tapper, executive director of the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership. “These systems also are eager to purchase more goods and services locally, from a diverse supplier network, to strengthen the economic well-being of the community. The Milwaukee Anchor Collaborative will help them meet these shared goals.”

The collaborative will focus on hiring residents, and purchasing from businesses, in eight Milwaukee ZIP codes: 53204, 53205, 53206, 53208, 53210, 53212, 53216, and 53233. The combined population is 206,000, with 33 percent living in poverty.

“We’ve seen the data and know we can help people live well outside a clinical setting. We’re ready to move the needle by expanding business opportunities and creating more jobs,” said Garcia-Thomas.

 The collaborative is currently setting goals to significantly increase employment and spending in these ZIP codes. They expect to announce details this fall.

JobsWork MKE spearheaded the creation of the collaborative. The nonprofit prepares its participants — people living in poverty — to achieve economic self-sufficiency through sustainable employment.

“People in the target neighborhoods need jobs and employers need people to fill their open positions,” said Rodney Moutry, director of the Milwaukee Anchor Collaborative. “Our focus is to identify and prepare people to fill these jobs and establish careers. It becomes a win-win.”

The anchor institutions seek to fill a wide range of high-demand, mid-skill positions — from phlebotomists and medical assistants to facilities maintenance workers and administrative assistants. 

The anchors also are joining forces to purchase services and supplies, ranging from janitorial and mechanical to medical equipment repair and IT.

“With their combined purchasing power, they could support and help grow a wide variety of businesses, such as a commercial laundry or a supplier of PPE [Personal Protective Equipment],” said Moutry.

 Research shows anchor collaboratives across the country are making significant impacts in their communities.  The Milwaukee Anchor Collaborative is based on these successful models.

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