By Dylan Deprey
Just as famous chemist, philanthropist and Sigma-Aldrich Corporation co-founder, Alfred Bader and his wife Helen, grew out from a Milwaukee garage producing chemicals and catalysts, its predecessor, BaderPhilanthropies strives to create a catalyst for change with its new Harambee headquarters.
BaderPhilanthropies, Inc. hosted its groundbreaking event for a new global headquarters on Monday, May 8. BaderPhilanthropies board members and staff welcomed elected officials and the community for its move from its current Third Ward location to the site of its Harambee location.
“This new headquarters really gives us opportunity as a foundation board, and as a foundation staff to further engage in a deeper level with the local community, and we’re really excited about that,” said Daniel Bader, CEO of BaderPhilanthropies, Inc.
The new space located at 3318 North Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, will include more than 22,000 square feet of meeting rooms and offices to accommodate up to 120 people, which doubles the Foundation’s current capacity for convening. In addition to the building, there are plans for nearly 50 guest parking spaces and green space.
“I think is going to be immensely helpful for this neighborhood,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “I think it speaks volumes for the commitment that’s being made.”
The 6th District Alderwoman, Milele Coggs said she grew up only two blocks from the site. She explained how the current building on the corner of MLK and Concordia was a neighborhood landmark as a child and hoped it could be the same for the community in the future.
“It’s easy to sit in glass towers and serve the peasants, it’s another thing to put your headquarters in the middle of a community that needs you so much,” Coggs said.
She added that redeveloping Dr. MLK Drive north of North Ave. had been a difficult task, especially as downtown and the new Buck’s Arena had attracted investors and developers to focus on, “being next to the next greatest thing.”
Coggs said Bader Philanthropies was the icing on the cake along with recent developers Maures Development Group, Brinshore Development, Milwaukee Riverworks and WestCare WI.
“They can help to transform this area, and not just through the buildings and the bricks, but through the quality of life for those who live around it,” Coggs said.
Frank Cumberbatch, Project Manager, said Bader Philanthropies had stood by their commitment to host African American contractors and businesses. Along with minority owned general contractor JCP, BaderPhilanthropies have found and hired minority and woman owned businesses for the demolition, mechanical/electrical/plumbing, and civil and structural engineering.
He said neighbors had been stopping by and acknowledging the work being done. He told the story of how a man pulled his car over to talk to him.
“He said, ‘You’re a man of your word.’ I said, ‘Why would you say that?’ He said, ‘because there are black people working on that site, and you told me that’s what was going to happen,’” Cumberbatch said.
“I hope looking forward, this building, our headquarters will inspire young African American people to join the construction trades, or to look to start a business and most importantly maybe a whole bunch of them will be inspired to one day become an entrepreneur and serve this community,” Cumberbatch said.
BaderPhilanthropies has been a leader in improving the quality of life of the diverse communities since its founding in 1992. The Helen Daniels Bader Fund and the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund has funded innovative projects and programs, and assembled partners to spread awareness and knowledge to those affected in key areas.
“I do look forward to two, three, four years down the road when we are engaging on a daily basis with this community and the Harambee neighborhood becomes the head for bold visions and bold ideas not only for this community but the Greater Milwaukee community, the state of Wisconsin and all of the communities we serve,” Bader said.