Milwaukee, Wis., Jan. 30, 2017 – For the second consecutive year, community organizations and programs received a historic level of funding from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. In 2016, the Foundation and its philanthropic donors provided more than $60 million in grants, early results show.
Helping make this generosity possible, Foundation donors expanded their philanthropy by contributing more than $43 million to Foundation funds in 2016.
What the funding supported
Grant funding benefited the community in a number of comprehensive areas.
Community development: $21.46 million
Education: $8.27 million
Human services: $6.46 million
Health: $6.39 million
Arts & culture: $5.46 million
Environment: $4.27 million
Child/Youth/Family: $2.47 million
Employment & training: $1.62 million
Other: $3.72 million
Nearly 13 percent of grant funding in 2016 was directed by the Foundation’s board while more than 87 percent was issued through donor advised funds and other donor recommended mechanisms.
“Looking back at 2016, our community’s generosity is on full display,” said Ellen M. Gilligan, president and CEO of the Foundation. “While their specific interests vary, all of our donors want to make this region a better place to live, and together, we are supporting the strategies and strengthening the organizations most effective at moving the needle on our community’s urgent issues and opportunities.”
Notable grants awarded in 2016 through the Foundation’s competitive grant process include significant contributions to medical research. Multi-year grants totaling $885,000 are being made to University of Wisconsin-Madison Foundation ($400,000 over three years to understand cognitive decline and reduce stigma associated with Alzheimer’s disease among African Americans); UW System Board of Regents ($200,000 over three years to understand the risks and biomarkers for chemotherapy-related cognitive dysfunction); Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Foundation ($165,000 over three years to enhance understanding of hypoplastic left heart syndrome and other forms of cardiac disease); and Marquette University ($120,000 over three years to test a new rehabilitation strategy for restoring dynamic balance in people with multiple sclerosis).
Through its Reasons for Hope MKE Fund, established in August to respond to concerned residents in Sherman Park and throughout the city seeking to strengthen their neighborhoods, the Foundation has awarded more than $150,000. These grants are supporting activities created by the community, for the community, that promote peace and unity in Milwaukee neighborhoods.
The Foundation supported a targeted loan fund to expand businesses owned by people of color through a two-year, $150,000 grant to Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation.
Investments in capital improvements spanned the region, including $100,000 for the expansion and reshaping of La Casa de Esperanza’s campus in Waukesha as well as more than $150,000 that is enabling six area shelters and food pantries to renovate kitchen spaces and upgrade infrastructure and equipment.
Last year’s grant awards also included more than $17 million in charitable funds supporting the development of the downtown arena project as directed in Sen. Herb Kohl’s 2014 gift of $100 million stewarded by the Foundation.
Continuing the commitment to its signature, communitywide educational initiative, the Foundation and its donors invested $442,500 in Milwaukee Succeeds in 2016. Not only did the effort mark five years of collective impact, it was selected for the StriveTogether Accelerator Fund – a consortium of national foundations investing in communities on the cusp of proceeding with systems-level change. As one of five StriveTogether network member communities chosen from 32 applicants, Milwaukee Succeeds is receiving technical assistance from national experts, leadership training for partners and $400,000 in capacity-building grants to help the community reach its education goals more quickly.
About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation
For more than a century, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has helped individuals, families and organizations realize their philanthropic goals and make a difference in the community, during their lifetimes and for future generations. The Foundation consists of more than 1,200 individual charitable funds, each created by donors to serve the charitable causes of their choice. The Foundation also deploys both human and financial resources to address the most critical needs of the community and ensure the vitality of the region. Established in 1915, the Foundation was one of the first community foundations in the world and is now among the largest.