The COVID-19 pandemic was an all-hands-on-deck moment. As communities were jolted into emergency response on many fronts—health, jobs, housing, education, childcare, food, and mental health—collaboration and coordination became essential. In Milwaukee, the Civic Response Team united local governments, philanthropy, and nonprofits to collectively manage response and recovery. In just weeks, they housed hundreds of people, delivered tens of thousands of meals, built and promoted a COVID-19 testing system, distributed hundreds of thousands of masks, provided families with technology to connect to school, rescued childcare providers, and soothed anxieties and grief.
This paper studies how the public-private partnerships within the Civic Response Team worked during their first year, and shows what we can learn from them to support better partnership and emergency response in the future.