Couple view fund as helping address Milwaukee’s needs far into the future

Over the years, Ralph and Margaret Hollmon have enriched the Milwaukee community through their activism and their volunteer efforts. Now, through the recently established Ralph and Margaret Hollmon Family Charitable Fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, they will be giving to the community far into the future. 

The Hollmons decided to place their fund with the Foundation not only because of its track record, but because the Foundation is forward-thinking and nimble. 

“The Foundation gives us flexibility with our fund, so that if we want to redirect our focus, we can easily do that,” Ralph said. “Plus, another attractive component is that the Foundation might bring to our attention organizations or issues that we might not be aware of that we might be interested in funding.” 

The Hollmons’ vision for the community aligns perfectly with the Foundation’s strategic vision of building a Milwaukee for all. 

“We can’t have sectors of our community doing well and others mired in poverty,” Ralph said. “That creates the ‘tale of two cities.’ We want a community that values and respects everyone.” 

Ralph is the former president and CEO of the Milwaukee Urban League and former board chair of America’s Black Holocaust Museum. Margaret was a special education teacher, first in the Milwaukee Public Schools then Madison Metropolitan School District before returning to MPS, where she retired after 26 years. 

The Urban League’s mission, Ralph said, was to help people improve the quality of their lives in three areas: education, employment and economic development. 

“We felt that these three areas would help people become more self-reliant so that they would have the long-term tools — information, resources — that they needed to improve their lives,” Ralph said. 

He shared what he called the “old cliché:” Give a person a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach them how to fish, and he can feed himself for a lifetime. 

“That was our work at the Urban League, which has had a long-term and very supportive relationship with the Foundation.” 

As a classroom teacher and, later, a resource room teacher, Margaret’s mission was to give special needs students opportunities to thrive. 

“It’s not an easy field to be in, but it’s very rewarding,” she said. “Many of our students had low self-esteem, so my goal was to give them the courage to try. Often they very much surprised themselves with what they were capable of.” 

Not surprisingly, the Hollmons’ fund will focus on education. 

“Education is one of the pillars that can help people improve their quality of life,” Margaret said. 

The fund will support the Milwaukee Urban League, the Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation and Milwaukee Area Technical College to provide scholarships for minority students. 

“We have been very fortunate to have people help us through the years,” said Ralph. “Now we want to give back.” 

Added Margaret, “There is no better way to do that than to partner with the Foundation. It has a long, distinguished and respected track record in supporting so many things that make our community a better place.” 

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