Since distributing our first grants in 2016, we’ve awarded over $2.8 million dollars in grants to 36 nonprofit organizations doing impactful, transformational and sustainable work in the Greater Milwaukee Community.
Our Focus Areas
We fund capital projects, new programs, expansions of existing programs, or new/expanded collaborative effort between several nonprofit organizations. All grants target a specific population for a specific duration with specific measurable goals in one of these areas of focus:
Arts & Culture
Environment & Revitalization
Health and Wellness
$100,000 Grant Recipients
Islands of Brilliance (IOB) is an organization that pioneered the use of art, creativity, and technologies to spur self confidence, independence, and pathways to employment for autistic individuals. IOB was started by parents of an autistic child; they created an innovative model of working with autistic students using programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator and/or 3D Modeling software. Students gain skills in creative/digital design, build confidence, and learn in a safe, caring atmosphere through programming and 1:1 mentoring geared to individual needs. Impact100 funds will outfit their new Brilliant Studio: A Creative Hub for Autistic Youth with flexible furnishings and digital equipment to facilitate this life changing learning.
Founded in 1982, The Gathering provides one of the largest all-volunteer meal programs in Milwaukee. Their goal is to alleviate hunger and address the root causes and related problems associated with food insecurity in Milwaukee's poorest neighborhoods. Over the years, The Gathering has become an aggregator of healthy foods from local restaurants and large companies, that would otherwise end up in the garbage, and serves as a distribution hub for food and meal services to other local nonprofits. Impact100 funds will purchase equipment and update their food storage infrastructure to enable expansion of current meal services to their own clients and of their food/meal distribution program that supports other local nonprofits.
VIA CDC, a long standing community revitalization partner, whose mission is to build strong, healthy neighborhoods where all can thrive, is using Impact100 funds to help build two model homes, one on the north side and one on the near south side of Milwaukee. The model homes will be used to showcase a new method of affordable housing construction, Lange Urban Sustainable Housing (LUSH), to other builders, organizations, and communities. LUSH is a zero-waste manufacturing process, with all home parts made out of wood, renewable and biodegradable material. After a period of time, the models will be sold to low income families, with those down payments creating a ripple effect to finance the homes built in the next year, and so on. The intention is to jump start a new wave of home building to help meet the dire need for affordable starter homes in Milwaukee.
Advocates of Ozaukee is a domestic abuse shelter providing a 24-hour crisis line, emergency transport to the shelter, temporary safe housing, meals, advocacy, counseling, education support for children, and follow-up services. Funding from the Impact100 grant will support the remaining part of a renovation and expansion project, including demolition and construction of a new playground, creation and furnishings for a children’s computer center; a lower-level exercise room and dog kennel, upgraded security, and temporary housing for clients during the construction. In the last year, 780 people spent 2,250 nights at Advocates of Ozaukee’s shelter. The average stay at the farmhouse is 92 days.
Since 1974, the Benedict Center has provided services and advocacy for women in the criminal justice system so they can live safer, healthier lives for themselves, their children, and the community. Services include community-based counseling for substance use disorders and mental health treatment; reentry support; neighborhood drop-in centers; and street outreach. The Impact100 grant will fund Certified Peer Specialists to assist women in their reentry into the community. These certified peer specialists would be people who themselves have successfully transitioned back to the community after incarceration. They are specially trained and act as coaches and accelerators who will provide support as women seek to complete treatment and aim to achieve higher levels of independence through education, employment, and stable housing.
For more than 20 years, Hope Street has provided housing and healing to people whose lives have been profoundly affected by trauma and tragic experiences, like addiction or abuse. Today about 50 men, women and children live at Hope Street where each have an opportunity to experience spiritual growth, job and life skills training, counseling and more. The Impact100 grant to Hope Street will contribute toward construction costs and fund the materials, furnishings, equipment and supplies for two classrooms and a resource center within the new Shechem at Hope Street community center. Adjacent to Hope Street’s apartment building, the center will provide after-school programming for students grades 1-12 from the 10 schools located within one mile of Hope Street. Additionally, the spaces will be used in off-hours for adult classes and workshops and be open to organizations in the nearby neighborhood.
Victory Garden Initiative (VGI), was founded in 2009 in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood which is home to 15,000 residents and is a food desert. VGI runs a 1.5 acre solar-powered, rainwater-fed urban farm as well as a farmstand, other youth-education programs, community classes, and it spearheads an annual community-wide blitz to provide raised-bed gardens for residents throughout the city. VGI’s urban farm is a hub of inspiring activity and ADA-compliant upgrades would give even more people access, while qualifying VGI’s farm for additional grants and city services like lighting and plowing. The goal of their project, The Homestead, is to make their farm a gathering ground accessible to all and to support the Urban Farm campus by installing a more robust rainwater system. Impact100 grant dollars will fund two years of stipends for interns, the materials and equipment to upgrade VGI’s sustainable systems with a solar pump, cisterns, and a catchment system; installing ADA-compliant access, and contracting the professionals needed to make this happen.
Partners in Hope program - The Community Warehouse provides jobs and job/life skills at three Milwaukee locationsto formerly incarcerated, background-challenged men and women living in Milwaukee. The project will allow 200 people to join its existing prisoner re-entry Partners in Hope, a voluntary, 18-month collaborative mentoring program that connects these challenged individuals with volunteers from law enforcement, faith and business. Participants will learn and practice positive life skills and values to help secure and maintain a job and a healthy life. Participants will gain and maintain sustainable employment and stable housing, increase their skills, retain reliable transportation, live a healthy lifestyle, experience positive family relationships, mature in interpersonal skills, and contribute back to their community.
Neu-STEPP Program - For 20 years, NEU-LIFE has served youth from early childhood to young adulthood. Their nurturing community and evidence-based prevention programs build life skills, wellness, and the accountability to self that youth need to say no to risky behaviors.
Milwaukee is one of the largest trafficking hubs in the country, luring youth as young as 13 into prostitution. Neu-STEPP is one of only two comprehensive trafficking prevention programs in the nation, targeting at-risk middle school and high school youth. Thisproject expands Neu-STEPP’s reach by providing curriculum and trainer training to area youth centers and schools, and develops a formal assessment tool. 5,000 Milwaukee area youth will participate in Neu-STEPP over 2 years, helping them make smart, informed choices and advocate for healthy relationships for themselves and others.
Teaching Greenhouse - The mission of Teens Grow Greens (TGG) is to develop teens through transformative experiences that cultivate belonging, skill building, and connections to opportunities that grow leadership. TGG serves minority and low-income youth from the north and south sides of the city.
Build a new 2100 sq ft Teaching Greenhouse as a permanent home for and expansion of their youth experiential learning programs in STEM and agriculture, providing year-round opportunity for TGG interns and apprentices to hone their skills in growing, cooking, selling and distributing healthy foods, and teaching what they’ve learned.
TGG addresses youth employment, academic achievement, and access to healthy nutrition. TGG is a source for workforce development, fostering employment skills, character development, teamwork, and a sense of responsibility toward the community.
Lighthouse Youth Center (LYC) exists to be a beacon of hope to the youth in the Garden Homes (N. 25th and Roosevelt), Havenwoods (N. 68th and Silver Spring), and Polonia (S. 11th and Oklahoma) neighborhoods of Milwaukee. LYC offers youth a safe place to go after school for educational and recreational activities led by caring adult mentors. Our grant helps LYC fulfill its dream to educate and transform the approach to meal and snack planning, cooking, and eating with LYC youth, their families, and community members through the Polonia Kitchen Renovation and Program Launch. We will fund the renovation of the kitchen and staffing to launch the "Plan, Prep, Prepare & Partake" program in all communities served.
The Milwaukee Public Library Foundation (MPLF) enriches the library system through private contributions; MPLF funds more than 90% of all 7,000 Milwaukee library programs each year. Our grant supports the Hotspot Lending Program that addresses the digital divide in Milwaukee. MPL has a program to provide small, portable devices (hotspots) that connect up to ten laptops and mobile devices to the internet. The hotspots are checked out just like any other item in the library‘s collections and do not require installation in the home. By providing funding for the data plans of an additional 225 hotspots, thousands of individuals will have opportunities to improve their lives through internet connectivity.
NAMI Southeast Wisconsin inspires the hope of recovery, with the goal of creating a community that is understanding and supportive of individuals impacted by mental health conditions to assist them in their recovery. Our grant will support Crisis Intervention Team Training (CIT), a best practices program for police officers that provides them with improved understanding of mental health conditions and how to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis. This 40-hour class teaches techniques designed to improve communication when interacting with someone experiencing a mental health crisis, with the goal of de-escalating the situation to a more favorable outcome. We will provide training for 75 Waukesha County and 125 Milwaukee County law enforcement officials.
Operation DREAM provides developmental opportunities and mentoring support for hundreds of boys and young men, primarily of color, from kindergarten to age 24 through positive role models. The founding values of DREAM: Discipline; Respect; Education; and Appreciation through Mentoring guide every program. We will fund Teen Mentoring and Entrepreneurial Business Creation--DREAM Screen, supporting staff, training, equipment and supplies. This program will provide high quality services and products that are needed on an annual basis for youth organizations, businesses, schools, churches, and individuals seeking custom apparel. DREAM Screen will be a source of income for the young participants while they also learn valuable business skills such as research, product development, accounting, marketing, graphic design, sales, and customer service.
Just One More Ministry rescues food from donor partners such as local caterers, restaurants and grocery stores—food that would otherwise end up in landfills. It is repackaged and distributed to 75 community partners, who distribute that food to thousands of hungry people through food pantries and meal programs—most in Milwaukee‘s poorest neighborhoods. Our grant will help JOMM increase the amount of food rescued and then redistributed through two capital purchases: a large walk-in cooler that will increase fresh food storage capacity by 400% and a large walk-in freezer that will increase frozen food storage capacity by 300%.
Pathfinders focuses on youth in crisis, including Milwaukee‘s only youth-focused homeless street outreach (Street Beat). Pathfinders helps youth through its four initiatives: 1) housing and shelter using the housing first model; 2) education: 3) family engagement; and 4) youth empowerment. With our grant, Pathfinders will replace their 11+year old Street Beat vehicle. This vehicle will circulate daily through Milwaukee neighborhoods offering a point of entry to a network of resources. The balance of our grant would be used to stock the vehicle with four seasons of basic needs items like safety kits, emergency funds for gas cards and bus passes, and survival resources, helping 5000+ youth in crisis per year for another decade or more.
Summit has achieved academic and character development success with the primarily Latino population on Milwaukee‘s South Side through its holistic approach to support disadvantaged students. Our grant will support and expand its tutoring and character building programs to Milwaukee‘s North Side to fill a gap in the primarily African American community and fund it for two years. The North Side site (MLK Community Center at 1531 W. Vliet) includes classrooms, a gym, and an outdoor space, allowing an increase of students served in the school year tutorial program pairing fourth through eighth grade students with a consistent adult tutor/mentor for personal interaction and friendship. The Summer Olympics program provides programming including academics, character building and organized athletics.
Acts Housing provides guidance and capital to families typically locked out of the homeownership market due to barriers such as low income, poor access to credit, lack of savings, and language. An Impact100 grant will fund Mortgage Rehab Loans for families or individuals purchasing foreclosed properties and needing funds to renovate the properties to make them safe, habitable and up to code. Acts will use the dollars repaid from the loans to continue increasing the number of new loans to new homeowners, thereby expanding the number of families served and subsequently stabilizing and improving more neighborhoods.
DSAW promotes full acceptance, full access, full potential, and a full life for those with Down syndrome and other special needs. Impact100 funding will support two new programs that address common barriers to work for these communities. The first, a transportation service, will provide an estimated 300 individuals with safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to programs teaching employment readiness and life skills. The second and first of its kind in the Milwaukee area, DigitalABILITY, will teach digital literacy skills required to work in more than half of today‘s jobs.
Through its 2-1-1 crisis hotline, IMPACT connects the most vulnerable people in southeast Wisconsin to critical resources including substance abuse screenings, treatment and recovery support, and the largest directory of family, health, and social service providers in the state. The hotline currently fields more than 600 calls per day. An Impact100 grant will be used to update the crisis call center‘s phone system, which will improve service delivery and prevent dropped calls between team members and clients. The new system will also enhance IMPACT‘s capacity to collect information on their clients‘ needs, which will better inform how critical services are delivered in the community.
The Benedict Center addresses the needs of women in the criminal justice system. The Sisters Program is a community-police partnership that assists victims of prostitution/sex trafficking and aims for diversion with a public-health approach, rather than criminalizing the women through incarceration. Impact100 funds will be used for an outreach vehicle for volunteer workers to travel to high intensity areas of the city, transporting women on the street to one of the Sisters Program shelters and carrying supplies such as blankets and water for women still on the street. Funds also will support a new pilot program to train, support and develop Sisters Program participants to take on more active roles in the community. Click to see the impact: https://vimeo.com/297579567
GPS works with businesses and school districts to offer students at risk of dropping out immersive apprenticeships. The Impact100 grant will fund The Credentialed Work-Based Learning Project, a program that offers GPS students the opportunity for a third year of on-the-job training and advanced education. Funding will also support development of a unique apprenticeship program for multiple skilled jobs, and an online platform for future expansion of the program into new roles and industries. Click to see the impact: https://vimeo.com/297751229
Running Rebels (RRCO) targets central city youth ages 8-19 primarily from low income, single parent homes, and often trauma-ridden environments. RRCO recently moved into a large, existing facility on Milwaukee‘s North Side, which includes a mostly empty gym. Impact100 funds will be used to purchase new bleachers to encourage families to gather and watch games, as well as better, safer equipment. The funds will also allow RRCO to expand programming with later weekday and weekend hours, and additional activities for young men, girls, small children and families. Click to see the impact: https://vimeo.com/294793239
Literacy Services of Wisconsin provides literacy education to adults through the dedication of volunteers, the support of the community, and the use of specialized curricula to meet individual and community needs. The grant will support a high school equivalency program focused on high demand manufacturing and construction jobs.
Neu-Life Community Development Center empowers children and youth with skills to make better life choices. The Farmfork Youth Cooking Program aims to break down barriers to accessing healthy food in some of Milwaukee‘s most challenged zip codes. The grant will be used to covert the community center‘s outdated facilities into a commercial kitchen and purchase a van to allow them to serve more youth and broaden the program‘s scope.
Merit Grant Recipients
Radio Milwaukee – www.radiomilwaukee.org
Neighborhood House of Milwaukee - www.neighborhoodhousemke.org
Dominican Center – www.dominican-center.org/
Express Yourself MKE