MCW and GMF evaluate new community-based partnership, co-location

Recognizing an opportunity for enhanced impact around aligned goals, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the Medical College of Wisconsin are evaluating a significant partnership to advance joint efforts designed to improve health and strengthen the community.

The collaboration will enable MCW and the Foundation to join forces, share expertise and accelerate investment to better serve the people of Milwaukee.Together, the Foundation and MCW are evaluating the option of co-locating in a space in the city of Milwaukee that would serve as the Foundation’s new headquarters and house select MCW departments. The common location would serve as a catalyst and a community hub benefitting the immediate area and beyond. Future opportunities for convening space, programming and additional local partners would amplify collective impact.

Leveraging location

Almost a decade ago, the Foundation moved to the Schlitz Park office community. The decision to locate on the northern edge of downtown at that time was an investment that helped spur development momentum in the area for years to come. An upcoming lease expiration and growing space needs led the Foundation’s Board of Directors in May 2018 to authorize a process to identify facility options. They convened a Facilities Task Force to evaluate how the Foundation could potentially leverage its location and physical space to increase social and economic impact in a manner that advances its mission.

Input received from donors and key stakeholders supports the understanding that a facilities opportunity goes beyond brick and mortar; like the move to Schlitz Park, this facility decision should aspire to deepen community impact. Through the evaluation process, it became clear to the Foundation’s Facilities Task Force that effective collaboration with solid organizational partners is a prudent direction, considering the real possibility of relocating.

Flourishing Lives alignment 

MCW’s Flourishing Lives initiative aligns strongly with the Foundation’s focus, particularly around such priorities as advancing community health, neighborhood and workforce development, affordable housing, economic security, safety and education. The organizations have mutual interest in creating a place-based partnership connected by a vision for a healthier, stronger Milwaukee for all.

“Collaborating with like-minded partners helps create solutions for our community’s biggest challenges, and we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation,” said John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, president and chief executive officer of MCW. “This collaboration aligns our missions and will spark catalytic changes in the community through addressing social, economic and environmental factors that are key to improving health.”

“Through each era of our history, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has invested in strengthening our region and addressing the greatest needs of the times,” said Ellen M. Gilligan, Foundation president and CEO. “We are committed to ensuring access to opportunity and a high quality of life for all people, in neighborhoods throughout our community, a goal we can best achieve by working together. This partnership is a perfect example of our enduring investment in place. The missions of the Foundation and the Medical College of Wisconsin complement one another well, and we look forward to applying our respective expertise and knowledge for greater collective impact.” 

Continued community investment

Over the last century, the Foundation’s commitment to place has been targeted – including millions invested in the revitalization and cohesion of nearly two dozen neighborhoods – as well as broad, contributing to community development, entrepreneurship and public spaces citywide. The Foundation has supported the development of individuals, such as through its Neighborhood Leadership Institute, as well as the development of the urban landscape by stewarding former Sen. Herb Kohl’s transformational $100 million gift for the arena project, now the Fiserv Forum.

The partnership with MCW represents a new chapter in the Foundation’s history of strengthening community through neighborhood investment. No final location has been selected for the partnership.

Through qualitative and quantitative examination of a variety of potential locations, both independently and collaboratively, the partners have narrowed the options to several finalist sites based on a range of thoughtful criteria. The finalist sites are in the greater community of Halyard Park / Haymarket / Hillside, the traditional neighborhoods as defined by the city of Milwaukee.

Essential next steps will include ongoing invitations to community residents and stakeholders to participate in the discovery process through discussions and workshops. This inclusive approach draws on the Foundation’s relationships and experience in Milwaukee neighborhoods fostered over decades. This includes a keen commitment to ensuring community members are at the center of decisions that affect them, and that opportunity is ample for participation in designing, building and implementing specific strategies to address barriers to prosperity and vitality.

This partnership is dependent on Board approval from both organizations.