Asking the big questions
Bader Philanthropies is proud to lend our support to research organizations working in fields of study that relate to our areas of interest. Here is a sampling of some of the work Foundation dollars have furthered in recent years.
Alzheimer’s and Aging
Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention
No one knows what causes Alzheimer’s disease. While there is no cure, there is hope in identifying some of the factors that might play a role in its occurrence.
In 2001, the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute (WAI) launched the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP) to help identify these potential traits. Working with adults who have had a parent with Alzheimer’s, WRAP is one of the largest long-term observational studies in the nation, with more than 1,400 adults currently participating.
Through three intake locations across the state, WRAP participants take a detailed questionnaire and assessment, followed by periodic follow-up visits and re-assessments. This information gives participants the opportunity to learn more about the disease that affected their families. Participants whose families are not affected are also helping by serving as part of a control group. As the study progresses, WAI is making a major effort to encourage participation by underrepresented ethnic groups to ensure the study reflects the diversity of the state.
“We are building a national model for how to identify the factors behind this mysterious disease,” said Mark Sager, M.D., WAI medical director. “It will take time to begin identifying patterns, but WRAP will be a critical element in understanding what steps we can take in advance of the onset of Alzheimer’s.”
Since 1998, the Foundation has supported WAI through more than $2.9 million in grants to strengthen its array of training, research and diagnostic services.
Alzheimer’s in Israel
Israel Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention
In 2010, the Foundation brought Wisconsin’s model for a long-term Alzheimer’s study to Israel, a nation where a diverse population presents a unique opportunity to lead. The key was identifying the right partner with a solid track record.
Sheba Medical Center is taking the lead in bringing the registry approach to the people of Israel. Based in Tel Hashomer, it is working with physicians, social service providers, and networks of families facing the disease, to not only spread the word about the Israel Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (IRAP), but also to build trust in what will be a long-term commitment to the project. Similar to the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention, which has played an advisory role in starting the program, IRAP participants will be tracked over a span of years through periodic health assessments.
The Foundation has awarded a two-year, $625,000 grant to help get IRAP off to a strong start.
Alzheimer’s and Aging
Tailored Caregiver Assessment and Referral
How can family caregivers manage the incredible stress in juggling everyday life and the needs of a loved one? Tailored Caregiver Assessment and Referral (TCARE®) is a training protocol for care managers based on the identity change theory—going from spouse to caregiver, or child to caregiver— which influences the type and level of stress put on the caregiver.
The idea for TCARE® was developed from research at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where lead researcher Rhonda Montgomery, Ph.D., saw the need for various kinds of caregivers. In addition to those caring for an older adult, there are increasing numbers of family members acting as caregivers for wounded service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. For their families, being suddenly thrust into this new role is a difficult adjustment; TCARE® helps by providing care managers with plans to guide family caregivers as they go through this change.
“Caregiving for a relative is often stressful and can lead to depression,” Montgomery said. “Sometimes those of us who do it simply cannot continue without physical and emotional support. But support services and resources for these caregivers are not uniformly beneficial.”
To help share the TCARE® concept at the national level, the Foundation awarded $20,000 to the UWM Foundation for a 2010 symposium of professionals in the field of aging from across the nation.
Informing Workforce Policy in Greater Milwaukee
There is a wide consensus that action needs to be taken in the Milwaukee area to connect unemployed and underemployed adults with potential employers or job training opportunities. But, when it comes to action, there are diverse opinions as to what approaches will be most effective.
In 2012, the Foundation linked with the Public Policy Forum to launch a two-year series of report s that will broaden the knowledge base about the extremely high unemployment rate in certain sections of greater Milwaukee. With the aim of maximizing the impact of the region’s funding resources, the studies will identify barriers to cooperation and coordination of workforce development policy among public, private, and regional partners.
The Public Policy Forum provides research regarding unemployment and workforce development, including:
- The changing face of the unemployed in Milwaukee, and the responsiveness of local agencies to these demographic and geographic changes.
- The diversity, breadth, and effectiveness of grassroots and neighborhood economic development and workforce development initiatives in Milwaukee.
- Best practices from peer cities.
- Needed investments in such infrastructure as transportation, affordable housing and information technology.
“The unemployment rate is a key indicator of the region’s economic health, and we need to break down the complex issues that surround it,” said Rob Henken, Public Policy Forum president. “We hope to give the community a starting point to build consensus, set some immediate goals and have a long-term impact.”