Youth Development

Help spread the word

Share this page:

Broadening horizons after school and beyond

It should come as no surprise that a child is most vulnerable to crime and other negative influences during summer break and immediately after the security and structure of the school day ends. For Bader Philanthropies, that timeframe represents the biggest opportunity to make a pivotal impact on Milwaukee youth.

The Need: After school and summer can make or break a future

We support programs that offer kids more than just a safe environment. They also provide structured, enriching programming that opens up their worldviews. Sometimes it just takes one positive interaction with an adult to make a major difference for a child.

Our Approach: Connecting and uplifting promising efforts

Youth Development has three key strategies:

  1. Out-of-School-Time Opportunities:
    Support quality out-of-school, after-school, and summer programs that empower school-age youth, teens, and young adults ages 18-24, with an emphasis on:

    • Community Cultural Development: Inspire creative community building by supporting youth programs that bridge Milwaukee’s economic, racial, and generational divide.
    • Youth Voice: Support programs that foster authentic youth leadership opportunities, especially for youth not often seen as potential leaders or community assets.
  2. Whole Youth Support:
    Support services for youth and families who face homelessness, hunger, and mental illness, including programs that encourage youth to develop mindfulness and other wellness strategies to manage stress, anger, and trauma.
  3. Capacity Building:
    Support stronger youth through stronger agencies, using two approaches:

    • Agency Stability: Support the development of strong, sustainable youth-serving organizations by building leadership capacity and organizational infrastructure.
    • Systemic Development: Support the coordination and collaboration of cross-sector youth programs and services to build a web of citywide support for youth and families.

These strategies are the result of research into best practices in other cities, surveys of local nonprofits, as well as on-the-street interviews with youth and their parents. One breakthrough was to identify ways to reach out to kids who choose not to participate in organized after-school activities.

Our Impact: Links across Milwaukee

Youth Development seeks to nurture innovative and effective efforts that can be replicated throughout Milwaukee’s neighborhoods. Building on partnerships with agencies of all sizes, Youth Development aims to build bridges between these strong, supportive services.

Connected, inspired partners keep youth anchored

One agency can lift a child, but a network of providers and professionals can truly make a lasting difference throughout youth, especially when families and children move from neighborhood to neighborhood. Ensuring that the quality and consistency remains high across programs is a key goal for the Foundation’s capacity-building efforts.

Across the city, the Beyond the Bell initiative is working with youth leaders to map the array of after-school and summer programs available, particularly for youth from struggling neighborhoods. A collaboration of the Donors Forum of Wisconsin and the Center for Youth Engagement, Beyond the Bell not only aims to help families identify quality programming during the critical after-school hours, but also helps to unify and connect their financial supporters, so that quality programs can be documented and shared to serve even greater numbers of youth.