Milwaukee, WI-A $1 million gift to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Greater Together Campaign toward the redevelopment of the historic ThriveOn King building shows how a transformational project driven by the community is also being supported by the community.
The restoration and reimagining of this former department store into a vibrant community hub is a cornerstone of the ThriveOn Collaboration, led by the Foundation, the Medical College of Wisconsin and Royal Capital. This comprehensive effort — one of the Foundation’s campaign priorities — aims to realize an equitable, thriving Milwaukee for all by focusing on the building blocks of a healthy life, including housing, early childhood education, food access, health and wellness, economic opportunity and neighborhood leadership.
In addition to devoting resources to their respective office spaces, which will occupy the upper floors of 2153 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, the Foundation and MCW are investing significantly in the buildout of the first floor, which is dedicated to spaces prioritized by the community – from art to gathering places to an exemplar early childhood care and education center.
The donor, who remains anonymous, directed $500,000 of their $1 million gift to the ThriveOn Early Childhood Education Fund and $500,000 to the ThriveOn Collaboration Fund to respectively support capital costs and construction on the early childhood education space to be operated by Malaika Early Learning Center and first-floor development overall.
“Construction is now underway at ThriveOn King, and we are thrilled to see this catalytic project taking shape,” said Kristen Mekemson, Foundation vice president of development and philanthropic services. “Much work remains, however, and our donor’s extraordinary commitment is helping us sustain our momentum during these crucial and time-sensitive stages of development.”
Through their actions, the anonymous donor also seeks to encourage the generosity of others. As part of its philanthropic campaign, the Foundation is inviting individuals and organizations to join and invest in this community hub being created in full partnership with residents of the Halyard Park, Harambee and Brewers Hill neighborhoods.
“We are moved by the anonymous donor’s generosity in making a lead gift to ThriveOn King’s first floor, including the community gathering space and the early learning center,” said Ellen Gilligan, Foundation president and CEO. “Like us, they care deeply about this neighborhood and have shared what an important project this is to Bronzeville and Milwaukee. Seeing the progress and potential of ThriveOn King, the donor hopes their gift will inspire others to co-invest with us to bring this innovative, community vision to life.”
The Foundation’s investment in the ThriveOn Collaboration represents an investment in the future of a thriving Bronzeville – a community where African American arts, culture and business have historically thrived, and which is now undergoing an exciting renaissance. This revitalization reflects the values and character of dedicated neighborhood residents, resilient small business owners and cultural institutions like America’s Black Holocaust Museum. Others, including the Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy and the Bronzeville Center for the Arts, have generated further momentum by planning their future homes on or around King Drive.
About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is Wisconsin’s largest community foundation and was among the first established in the world. For more than a century, the Foundation has been at the heart of the civic community, helping donors achieve the greatest philanthropic impact, elevating the work of changemakers across neighborhoods, and bringing people and organizations together to help our region thrive. Racial equity is the Foundation’s North Star, guiding its investments and strategies for social and economic change. Leveraging generations of community knowledge, cross-sector partnerships and more than $1 billion in financial assets, the Foundation is committed to reimagining philanthropy, catalyzing systems change, convening and following community voice, and building inclusive culture to transform our region into a Milwaukee for all.