Friday, July 19, 2024

Greater Milwaukee Foundation Raises $726M for Racial Equity Campaign


Greater Milwaukee Foundation Achieves Monumental Success in Racial Equity Campaign

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF) recently celebrated the successful conclusion of its extensive fundraising initiative, the Greater Together campaign, which gathered an impressive $726 million. This substantial amount of funds is earmarked for enhancing the lives of Milwaukee residents with a long-term vision, with a specific focus on racial equity and inclusion.

Since launching publicly in 2022, the campaign already had an impressive $500 million in donations. The objective of these funds is clear: invest in early childhood education, provide housing solutions, and develop a community hub in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville district — all steps believed essential for fostering a more equitable and inclusive community.

Ellen Gilligan, the President and CEO of the GMF, shared her enthusiasm and gratitude towards the community’s broad support. Having been with the foundation for an impressive 14 years, Gilligan, who is retiring this summer, reflected on the journey, “I’m very inspired by how the campaign and the vision were embraced across the region.”

The original fundraising goal was set at $400 million, but with the overwhelming support and potential impact in sight, it was ambitiously revised to $700 million. Cecelia Gore, a foundation board member and co-chair of the campaign, emphasized the impact of listening to the community’s needs and focusing on areas “that could move the needle” towards bridging significant disparities in Milwaukee. These areas spanned from early childhood care to educational enhancements and infrastructural developments.

One striking example provided was the importance of early childhood care and education in Milwaukee, where research indicated that half of the children under six lacked access to quality early education. This not only hinders the children’s developmental potential but also impacts the wider economy by not fully engaging all parents in the workforce. “We are in the business of long-term change,” Gilligan stated, underscoring the campaign’s intent to address systemic issues for lasting impact.

The ThriveOn King building, a $105 million mixed-use development, stands as an emblem of what the campaign aims to achieve. This revitalization effort in the historic Schuster’s department store will house both the GMF and the Medical College of Wisconsin, focusing on addressing social determinants of health. It will also feature a variety of tenants including educational centers, job training groups, and a food hall, all aimed at enriching the community’s social fabric.

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation, boasting a history spanning over a century, is comprised of more than 1,500 charitable funds initiated by individual donors over time. As a significant grant-making institution, it plays a critical role in supporting community nonprofits, in addition to facilitating collaborations across various sectors to address major community challenges.

With more than 4,800 donors contributing to the campaign, the range of donations varied widely, illustrating the broad base of support from all corners of the community. Notably, the campaign has attracted a newer, diverse cohort of donors, including younger individuals and people of color, enriching the foundation’s community engagement and inclusivity.

Cecelia Gore remarks on the milestone achievement as both “exciting” and “historic”, acknowledging that while this substantial fundraising effort is a significant step forward, it forms just a part of the broader, ongoing efforts required to address and overcome Milwaukee’s challenges. “We really want to be that great city by a Great Lake,” she expressed, highlighting the foundational belief that a high quality of life should be accessible to all community members.

In reflection, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Greater Together campaign not only marks a monumental financial achievement but also signifies a pivotal moment in the city’s journey towards creating a more equitable and inclusive community for all its residents.

Alexandra Bennett
Alexandra Bennett
Alexandra Bennett is a seasoned business journalist with over a decade of experience covering the global economy, finance, and corporate strategies. With a Bachelor's degree in Economics and a Master's in Business Journalism from Columbia University, Alexandra has built a reputation for her insightful analysis and ability to break down complex economic trends into understandable narratives. Prior to joining our team, she worked for major financial publications in New York and London. Alexandra specializes in mergers and acquisitions, market trends, and economic

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