Greater Milwaukee Foundation receives $1 million Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant for COVID-19 relief

MKE Responds Fund has secured more than $3.2 million

By Lauren Anderson -May 6, 2020 11:51 am

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation has received a $1 million grant to its COVID-19 relief fund from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The national philanthropic organization made the contribution to GMF’s MKE Responds Fund as part of its $50 million effort to provide humanitarian aid for families and communities feeling the greatest strain during the health emergency.

To date, the MKE Responds Fund has received more than $3.2 million in gifts and commitments, and the foundation has made more than $850,000 in grants to community organizations. 

“We are honored to be chosen by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for this award and very encouraged to be attracting this significant investment to our community,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and chief executive officer of GMF. “This grant is an acknowledgement of the foundation placing racial equity at the forefront of our work and a reflection of the collective approach our region and partners have embraced to address the pandemic and ensure that our efforts focus on identifying and addressing the systemic inequities that have resulted in the tragically disparate impact of this crisis on communities of color.”

GMF is spearheading a cross-sector coalition to response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Milwaukee area. The MKE Civic Response Team is developing systems to identify greatest needs, align resources and coordinate relief efforts related to food, housing and shelter, physical health, mental health, early childhood education and K-12 schools. It is specifically focused on the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on communities of color. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s commitment will allow GMF to direct more resources to address those disparities, the foundation said.

GMF is partnering with United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, Zilber Family Foundation, City of Milwaukee, Medical College of Wisconsin, Bader Philanthropies, Teach for America, Milwaukee Public Schools and Milwaukee Succeeds on the effort.

In addition to the MKE Responds Fund, GMF donors have recommended nearly $900,000 in grants directly to COVID-19-related causes. The foundation has awarded more than $1.8 million in board-directed grants directly to COVID-19-related causes. 

In total, the GMF’s total commitment to COVID-19 relief in the region – through donor, board and external gifts – is over $5.5 million, the foundation said.