On-The-Table-Community-Report-Cover.jpgMilwaukee, Wis., Dec. 14, 2017 – The Greater Milwaukee Foundation today released a community report summarizing key feedback, themes and opportunities identified by those who participated in On the Table MKE, a regionwide community conversation initiative introduced by the Foundation in October.

The Foundation found connecting and collaborating to be the most frequently discussed and most highly valued idea among hosts and guests who provided post-event feedback. On the Table helped participants establish new connections and was indicative of the community’s desire to collaborate. Nine out of 10 participants met someone new through On the Table, while participants expressed a nearly unanimous desire to work with others in the community to have a positive impact. In their comments, many emphasized appreciation for the opportunity to join in thoughtful, respectful and purposeful dialogue.

Voices from the Tables community report

Issues and ideas related to education and to race were the other principal themes that emerged through On the Table. From early childhood education, to K-12, to college or job training, topics pertaining to ensuring educational access and quality earned emphasis. Race, equity and inclusion arose at 81 percent of tables, and in many cases topics such as segregation, racism, diversity, and criminal and social justice were primary subjects of discussion.

For many, On the Table was as much about inspiring action as having conversation. Four out of five participants indicated that they better understood how they can personally make a difference as a result of their conversations, and over half of respondents made specific plans to work with someone at their table. 

Action ignited: The Milwaukee Bucks and America SCORES Milwaukee organized a trauma-informed coach and mentor training in response to their co-hosted On the Table conversation. Contact us for details and photos.

“Formally and informally, we’ve heard how refreshing and valuable On the Table was for building bridges, encouraging important dialogue and thinking creatively. And that truly has been its intent – as a tool the community could use and adapt to bring people together,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “We are especially encouraged by groups showing their commitment to community by continuing their conversations and following through on their ideas. 

In all, more than 5,400 people participated in On the Table on Oct. 17 across Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties, representing at least 73 different ZIP codes. The premise is to provide individuals and organizations with a platform for organizing their own mealtime conversations and inviting others to discuss issues of mutual or community interest, all on a single day throughout the region. The Foundation initiated the broad-scale convening as an avenue for people to build new relationships, generate ideas and ignite action for the benefit of the community and its future.

The Voices from the Tables report was informed by hundreds of responses to the initiative’s online survey and direct host feedback questionnaires. Beyond that immediate input, the Foundation remains interested in the activities of those who are advancing ideas generated through On the Table and welcomes ongoing communication.

Next Steps

  • The Foundation will invite all those who served as table hosts in 2017 to convene in early 2018 to help potential partners connect with one another, align and expand their efforts.
  • The dominant themes from On the Table affirm the urgency of the Foundation’s focus and increased financial investment in cradle-to-career education, neighborhoods and economic opportunity, especially in areas where generational disinvestment has created racial disparities and inequity.
  • On the Table MKE will return next year, as 97 percent of survey respondents said they would participate again if given the opportunity. In 2018, there will be an eye to accessibility for youth and individual households. Details to come.

About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is the region’s largest community foundation and was among the first established in the world. For more than a century, the Foundation has inspired philanthropy by connecting generous people to community needs that align with their interests. The Foundation was founded on the premise that generosity can unlock an individual’s potential and strengthen the community as a whole for everyone who lives here. We work in partnership with those who are committed to ensuring greater Milwaukee is a vibrant, economically thriving region that comprises welcoming and inclusive communities providing opportunity, prosperity and a high quality of life for all.



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Jeremy PodolskiMarketing and Communications Manager