By aligning resources with the vocational training expertise of Milwaukee Center for Independence (MCFI), the Greater Milwaukee Foundation aims to help an increasing number of individuals overcome barriers to employment and financial stability.

For the first time in more than six decades, MCFI last year served a majority of non-disabled individuals through its employment services program. Of 962 clients receiving employment services in 2013, 548 were non-disabled yet remained high-risk for economic insecurity due to learning disorders, depression, long periods of unemployment and other barriers.

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is supporting MCFI in its efforts to adapt its vocational training programs to serve an additional 400 non-disabled participants in hospitality, health care, custodial and warehouse operations fields in the next 12 months. Awarding a $50,000 grant to the program advances the Foundation’s goal of expanding opportunities for people in the region to earn stable income and achieve greater personal prosperity.

“As more individuals secure gainful, long-term employment, the economic health of the region will improve,” said Janel Hines, Director of Grant Programs for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “By partnering with Milwaukee Center for Independence, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and its donors can positively affect the community as well as individual lives.”

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation in all has awarded more than $777,000 in support to Milwaukee Center for Independence since 1984.

“Thanks to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s generous grant, Milwaukee residents who are now facing barriers to employment will have the opportunity to change their lives,” said Howard L. Garber, MCFI President. “Our community becomes stronger every time a person who needs a job becomes gainfully employed and, as a result, more self-sufficient.”

Through its competitive grant-making process, designed to address key issues in the community, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has awarded more than $800,000 to local nonprofits, such as Milwaukee Center for Independence, in the third quarter of 2014. The total includes $150,000 granted to area visual arts programs during the third quarter from the Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund and other funds. Other projects include:

Increasing economic opportunities

La Casa de Esperanza: $100,000 to help people with low-income gain access to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as a means of increasing their income, as well as to build their financial literacy and establish financial assets.

United Migrant Opportunity Services: $30,000 supporting legal advocacy services for immigrant victims of domestic violence and sexual assault who are applying for legal immigration status under the Violence Against Women Act.

MATC Foundation: $2,000 to support a summer Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) class presented at North Division High School in partnership with Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board (MAWIB), the Zilber Family Foundation, the Helen Bader Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs and Milwaukee Public Schools.

Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation: $1,081 to support the training of financial literacy coaches.

Strengthening education

Teach for America: $100,000 to expand the corps of Teach for America-Milwaukee teachers by 14 percent and provide them with coaching to establish student goals and design assessments to analyze student gains. Corps members are placed in high-poverty schools across all school sectors.

City Year: $50,000 for corps members at South Division High School to mentor students on college and career readiness in addition to attendance, behavior and academics. The effort aims to improve graduation rates, school and life skills, and promote a college-going culture.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee: $35,000 to support the Higher Ground Leadership Project, which includes senior leadership development and the creation of learning modules for orientation and ongoing staff training.

Milwaukee Repertory Theater: $30,000 to support “Reading Residencies” in 18 middle school classrooms that will use a curriculum based on a theatrical play to strengthen student literacy skills.

Pathways to College: $25,000 to expand the parent engagement component of the organization’s year-round program designed to assist low-income, first-generation college prospects with the potential to succeed in college. The expansion will serve 100 additional sixth-grade students and their parents.

Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation: $5,000 to help underwrite the National Council of Great City Schools conference held in Milwaukee in October.

Strengthening Neighborhoods

United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee: $50,000 over two years to support a community engagement plan for Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service to increase resident, business and donor engagement, led by a full-time managing director.

Safe & Sound: $25,000 to support a full-time community organizer in the Metcalfe Park neighborhood through the Community Partners Program, which seeks to create safer neighborhoods, empower residents and teach and inspire youth to avoid negative behavior and become change-makers.

Riverworks Development Corporation: $20,000 to support expansion of the Neighborhood Ambassador Program, which provides work experience for unemployed and underemployed Milwaukee residents with limited skills while improving the safety, cleanliness and attractiveness of the city’s commercial corridors.

Historic Milwaukee: $10,000 to support Doors Open Milwaukee, a two-day public celebration of Milwaukee art, architecture, icons and history. For the second year, Doors Open and the Foundation’s Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative partnered to offer tours and lectures in the Havenwoods, Layton Boulevard West, Lincoln Village, Sherman Park and Thurston Woods neighborhoods.

Regional Vitality

Greater Milwaukee Committee: $25,000 to support two public art and community engagement events on West Wisconsin Avenue.

IndependenceFirst: $25,000 to expand the organization’s leadership program for youth with disabilities, which helps participants increase their knowledge or skills in leadership, independent living, healthy relationships, safe and risky behaviors, and career options.

In Tandem Theatre: $25,000 over two years to establish a production manager position to help meet production demands as the organization grows.

Milwaukee Riverwest District: $15,000 to engage nationally renowned artist Mary Miss in the development of a public art installation to celebrate Milwaukee’s connection to water.

United Way in Waukesha County: $15,000 to help support a project coordinator for Thriving Waukesha County, a nonprofit capacity-building initiative.

Arts@Large: $5,000 to help underwrite the Freedom Expressions project, a collaboration among artists and students traveling to Mississippi.

MATC Foundation: $5,000 to help underwrite the Milwaukee Public Television production of “City Built on Water,” a documentary developed by John Gurda.

Greater Milwaukee Committee: $2,500 to support the participation of a cohort of nonprofit leaders in the FlyingCar event in Milwaukee.

Learn More

dunn-web.pngContact Kathryn Dunn to learn more about our grantmaking strategies.