"It's troubling!" Black Health Coalition loses major federal grant used to fight infant mortality

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- "A blow to our community." That's what the Black Health Coalition is saying after learning they will not be getting a $750,000 federal grant used to fight infant mortality.

Clarene Mitchell has created a petition at Change.org.

"There are people in Las Vegas and Chicago so this is more than just a Milwaukee effort," Mitchell, the Director of Communication for the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin said.

It's an effort to right what she's calling a wrong.

Last month, the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin learned they would not be awarded a $750,000 grant they've relied on for years.

"We desperately need this money -- as an organization, as a community. Yes, we very much need this money," Mitchell said.

The Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin provides advocacy programs to underprivileged African-American women and children. The federal grant was used for programs working to reduce the infant mortality rate.

"If we`re already seeing dismal infant mortality rates and numbers in this community -- to take us offline from doing this work, they`re going to get worse," Mitchell said.

The Health Resource and Services Administration held two rounds of applications. The Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin applied twice, and was told their program was approved, but wouldn't be funded.

"To be in a position where we weren`t funded either round is just, it`s troubling," Mitchell said.

The Black Health Coalition's annual budget of $1.2 million will be drastically reduced to roughly $250,000. Their staff of 15 employees will be cut to four, and those positions will be part-time.

Mitchell says her job is on the chopping block.

"Right now, I`m more concerned and vigilant in fighting for the needs of this community," Mitchell said.

That's why Mitchell has launched the petition at Change.org -- setting a goal of 100,000 signatures.

"Then we can claim a victory. I`m waiting to press this button, to declare a victory. I`m waiting for that moment because I know it`s coming," Mitchell said.

The Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin works with more than 700 families each year.

They are already working to restructure their organization to continue their work.

Once 100,000 signatures are received, the petition at Change.org will be presented to the White House in the hopes that the federal government will provide funding.

CLICK HERE to access the petition at Change.org.

CLICK HERE to view a press release put out by the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin on this issue.