Westlawn Milwaukee


The Westlawn neighborhood is home to over 41,000 residents in Milwaukee, WI. Babies born in Westlawn’s zip code (53218) die at rates that are 25% higher than the rest of Milwaukee (11.3 vs 9). Compared with Milwaukee, the percent of families living below 200% of the federal poverty line in 2015 was 21% higher in Westlawn (56.3 vs 46.5), and the unemployment rate was more than double (15.4 vs. 7.7). The Westlawn neighborhood is also resilient –several initiatives focused on community development and addressing birth outcome racial inequities having begun in the last 6 years. The Best Babies Zone (BBZ) Westlawn will grow with the support of the BBZ Technical Assistance Center (TAC) funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


In the past 6 years, Milwaukee and Westlawn have experienced exciting opportunities for change, all of which are coming together to support the Westlawn Best Babies Zone. In 2011, the City of Milwaukee announced a community-wide goal for infant mortality: to reduce the black infant mortality rate by 15% and the city’s overall rate by 10% by 2017. This announcement became a catalyst for a communitywide response: United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County (United Way) began the “Healthy Birth Outcomes Initiative” – a dedication to community programs that improve Milwaukee’s infant and maternal health. In 2013, The Wisconsin Partnership Program selected United Way to serve as the convening agency for The Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families Initiative (LIHF), representing an infusion of resources to improve birth outcomes for African American babies through a practical application of the Life Course Perspective. The City of Milwaukee Housing Authority was also awarded a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant to support a locally-driven, comprehensive strategy to transform Westlawn and the surrounding neighborhood in 2015, drawing on strong community anchors such as the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center (SSNC). With United Way as its backbone organization, and the City of Milwaukee Health Department and a resident leader additional team members, BBZ Westlawn will leverage these exciting opportunities to push for community transformation.


Stay tuned!