By Evan Casey
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation announced last week that they released approximately $95.5 million in grants back to the community of the Greater Milwaukee area in 2017. The GMF, a collection of charitable funds across Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington Counties, has supported a wide array of nonprofits and programs that exist within these counties for the purpose of serving needs that exist within the community.
The GMF is made up of 1,300 charitable funds, according to their website. These funds could include an individual or a collection of people. The money raised by the charitable funds are then allocated to one of nine categories. The categories that the Foundation donated to in 2017 included human services, health, the environment and community development, which received the largest amount of grant money, totaling $56.78 million.
“At this time in our community, we recognize the need to especially focus and increase investment in cradle-to-career education and in neighborhoods where chronic disinvestment has led to economic and racial disparities.” said Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “The Foundation’s donors continue to expand their giving, leading to greater opportunities for progress and partnerships, and a higher quality of life for people throughout our region.”
There were three major grants that were given to institutions, each totaling $675,000, to focus on investigating health issues that, according to their press release, exist within “communities of color.” These grants were given to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Foundation, Marquette University and The Medical College of Wisconsin.
The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Foundation will use the money to research sickle cell disease, which predominantly affects African Americans. Marquette University will seek to develop new therapies for heart failure in aging and African American populations. The Medical College of Wisconsin however, will research how colon cancer is screened in the African American population, and if financial barriers or personal preference have an impact on screening rates.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, YWCA of Southeast Wisconsin and LISC Milwaukee also all received grants of over $100,000. The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee received the money for their Sponsor-a-Scholar program, a program that helps students prepare for college. The YWCA of Southeast Wisconsin received money to hire a trainer that will “address racial justice issues, including the creation of additional racial justice education opportunities,” according to their press release. LISC Milwaukee received grants to continue their community revitalization programs.
There are currently 14 board of directors on the GMF, ranging from the President of the Marcus Corporation, Gregory S. Marcus, to Judge Pedro Colón who serves on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court.
Gilligan encouraged those interested in supporting the GMF to think about the larger picture.
“Philanthropy provides a unique way to not only express passion for an issue but contribute to solutions that build community,” said Gilligan.