Wisconsin: Routine Immunization through Community Engagement (RICE) Grant Program


Support community-based organizations (CBOs) throughout the state in their efforts to increase vaccine equity and to bolster routine vaccination efforts in communities most impacted by low vaccination rates.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, routine vaccination rates declined across all age groups. In Wisconsin, communities of color, low socioeconomic status (SES) areas, and rural areas experienced some of the lowest routine vaccination rates. Wisconsin is home to many diverse and underserved populations, including, but not limited to, migrant farm workers, refugee populations, homebound individuals, under and uninsured people, and individuals experiencing housing insecurity. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recognized that CBOs and local public health institutions were best equipped to respond to the needs of their community.


In 2022, DHS established a pilot program called the Routine Immunization through Community Engagement Grant (RICE), funded by the Immunization Cooperative Agreement. The goal of the project was to increase routine vaccination rates in vulnerable and underserved communities in Wisconsin; advance vaccine equity through CBOs who are authentically embedded in their community; expand networks of vaccinators and CBOs to enhance vaccination efforts and promote collaboration across the state; address health inequities related to routine vaccination; and provide culturally sensitive and culturally relative outreach, vaccine clinics, and vaccine education from already established community messengers. The RICE grant was developed to support CBOs in achieving these goals. The awardees who received the grant were funded to conduct a variety of routine vaccine-related activities, including culturally sensitive outreach, vaccine clinics, vaccine education, and translation services; encourage collaboration and networking among awardees to share best practices and innovative approaches; and provide technical support and advocacy for awardees when necessary. The RICE 1.0 grant program was launched in 2022, and it provided funding for 11 recipients. Due to its success, RICE 2.0 was launched in 2023 with 18 recipients.

Funding for both RICE 1.0 and 2.0 grant programs came from the CDC Immunization Cooperative Agreement. During the first iteration of the program, RICE 1.0, there were three staff deeply involved with the work spending approximately 300 hours over the course of the grant period. As RICE 2.0 was launched, a fourth member was added. During RICE 1.0, six of the 11 organizations served children and adolescents, and each organization was awarded up to $25,000. Five of the organizations served adult populations, and each organization was awarded up to $20,000. In the fall of 2023, supplemental Vaccine Confidence funds were provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which facilitated the continuation of the RICE grant program. During RICE 2.0, the award amounts were increased to $35,000, and a goal was set to include a minimum of two organizations in each of Wisconsin’s five regions. RICE 2.0 provided funding for a total of 18 organizations. The RICE program required both time commitment and funding from DHS.


RICE 1.0 awardees served 33 counties across the state and reached many underserved communities, including Burmese Rohingya refugees, migrant workers, Amish communities, the Hmong community, and children with autism. Some of the RICE 1.0 grantees were recognized internationally for their telenovela radio ads on the importance of vaccines. They guided other grantees in piloting sensory-friendly clinics and developed new partnerships to bring vaccines where people are already receiving other services. As a RICE recipient, the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center was able to engage in outreach to children and adolescents in their community. The Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center outreached to unvaccinated families with phone calls and letters to promote vaccine compliance. In addition, they were able to host a Children’s Health & Wellness Fair to provide health screenings, healthy foods, and other healthcare services to families in their community.

Supplemental Resources

Years: 2022, 2023, 2024

Locations: Wisconsin

Programmatic Areas: Adolescent Immunization, Adult Immunization, Partnerships

Key Words: Health Equity, outreach

Evidence Based: No

Evaluations: Limited

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