By Karen Stokes
Milwaukee based African American Roundtable was awarded the $500,000 True Reformer Institutional Grant from Public Welfare Foundation (PWF).
Seven True Reformer grants were awarded to organizations nationally that are advancing restorative, community-led, and racially just approaches to justice to honor the Foundation’s 75th anniversary.
The Public Welfare Foundation has supported efforts to advance justice and opportunity for people in need. In its 75-year history, the Foundation has made over 5,700 grants totaling more than $700 million.
Institutional grants are one-time infusions of capital intended to strengthen an organization’s operating and programmatic infrastructure so that it can continue its work well into the future.
The African American Roundtable (AART) is a coalition led by and serving Black people in Milwaukee.
“We organize the community around issues to help support a thriving life and a thriving community to live in. We build and develop leaders to do the work that organizers do so we develop folks to go out as community advocates for things that they need to thrive here in the city of Milwaukee,” said Executive Director, Markasa Tucker- Harris.
The organization was founded in 2011 after some Black organizers and nonprofit leaders wanted to have an organization where monies were funded through a Black organization to support Black leaders and their work and the issues they were working on.
In 2017, Markasa Tucker-Harris became the director. At that time the organization was working on police reform. In 2019, the organization moved from police reform work to creating a campaign called LiberateMKE.
“We are asking for a $25 million divestment from the police and to invest that money into the community,” said Tucker-Harris. “We organized around it and people began to come out and show up at city budget hearings demanding that they wanted money to go to other places and not so heavily into policing.”
Other True Reformer grantees include:
Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition: Denver, Colo. Michigan Center for Youth Justice: Ann Arbor, Mich., Operation Restoration: New Orleans, La., People’s Advocacy Institute: Jackson, Miss, Voices for a Second Chance: Washington, D.C. Women on The Rise: Atlanta, Ga.
“The African American Roundtable is paving the way for a new, transformative approach to justice in Milwaukee that is community-led, restorative, and racially just. They deserve not just our praise, but our investment to ensure that they can continue to advance this work in the years to come,” said Public Welfare Foundation President and CEO Candice C. Jones.