$1.1 Million in Grants Aid 24 Community Organizations Serving Disadvantaged Youth in Milwaukee
The Helen Bader Foundation (HBF), a leading philanthropic Milwaukee-based foundation, announced today its board of directors has approved $1,132,000 of funding in support of 24 grassroots youth organizations serving underprivileged children and teens living in Milwaukee. The new youth grants are part of $5.6 million allocated by the board in support of various projects in Wisconsin, the U.S., and internationally.
According to recent statistics released by the Opportunity Nation Coalition, in the city of Milwaukee nearly 20 percent of families are living below the poverty line, almost 6.8 percent higher than the overall average in Wisconsin. Additionally, 15.1 percent of youth (ages 16-24) are not in school or working, which is 3.5 percent higher than the state average. It is during these idle times that many young people are missing out on the window to build basic skills needed for future success.
“It does not come as a surprise that children are most vulnerable to negative influences during out of school times,” said Maria Lopez Vento, vice president of programs and partnerships for the Helen Bader Foundation. “Working with our partners in the community, we strive to provide options during that time in an effort to empower the next generation.”
In an effort to address these statistics, many of the recently approved grants focus on the need to create safe harbors for children and their families, where youth have access to constructive programming for all ages, as well as providing for basic needs, such as food and clothing. The following three grants are examples of that work.
COA Youth and Family Centers, Inc., which supports urban-Milwaukee families through a variety of educational, recreational and social work programs, is receiving a two-year, $340,000 grant from HBF on behalf of the United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee (UNCOM). The grant will advance UNCOM’s Youth Arts Education Collaborative (YAEC), which provides arts education that is no longer being offered in many schools.
UNCOM is a coalition of community agencies serving more than 65,000 children and families at 60 locations across the city. The Milwaukee-area neighborhoods served by the coalition are among some of the most highly distressed in the nation. Unemployment reaches nearly 13 percent, with over 133,000 youth under the age of 18. Over the last year, UNCOM members have been able to expand their outreach to more than 3,430 children who were not already being served by other organizations. In the coming year, UNCOM and COA plan to sustain the quality and growth of their programming and audience served, as well as expand their reach to youth-service agencies not currently part of the UNCOM network.
“The need for high-quality programming for inner city youth is greater now than ever,” said Tom Schneider, executive director of COA. “Funding from the Helen Bader Foundation gives us the ability to provide and expand our current offering to meet this need.”
NewThreads of Hope, Inc., an organization that links manufacturers and retailers and their surplus products, samples, returns and past season lines with social service agencies, schools and faith-based communities in the area, is the recipient of a two-year, $124,000 grant to address supply and delivery efforts.
As nearly one in two children in Milwaukee lives below the poverty line, HBF’s funding will be used to increase the organization’s impact in the area through the formation of the Caring for Children Task Force. The task force will focus its efforts to increase donations of children’s items, including clothing, books, backpacks and other educational items.
Additionally, NewThreads will be implementing the Delivering Hope from Near and Far initiative. Due to recent economic conditions, many manufacturers and retailers are looking to reduce expenses. This includes reduced inventory, as well as the ability to ship surplus items to NewThreads, which has decreased the organization’s clothing supply. Funding from HBF will be used to cover transportation costs associated with delivering goods from the manufacturer to the organization.
“Clothing is a basic necessity that many families in our community cannot afford,” said Dennis Brand, president of NewThreads. “The ability to transport donations to and from our partner organizations is crucial and this grant enables us to do that.”
Risen Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church, Inc., which supports after school programming for low-income youth in the Northwest Milwaukee community, will be receiving a one-year, $100,000 grant from HBF. The grant will support the organization’s efforts to offer continued programming and expand their reach to at-risk youth in the area. It is estimated that more than 1,200 young people, ages 7-19, live within a three-block-radius of the organization. In addition to providing daily Youth and Teen Haven after-school programs, Risen Savior also offers Spanish classes, art and reading programs, Let’s Talk Girls’ Talk peer-support program, as well as special holiday celebrations. Risen Savior also serves over 10,000 meals throughout the year, often times the only hot meal for children outside of school.
In addition to maintaining current programming, funding from HBF will help the organization roll out their Community Youth Music program, which will offer youth the opportunity to take free music lessons on instruments provided by the organization.
“For many of the children who come through our doors, we are their only source for free, enriching programming and a hot meal during the afterschool hours, so we understand the profound importance of the work we do,” said Clarence Jenkins, executive director of Risen Savior’s Youth Services. “Our partnership with the Helen Bader Foundation ensures that we are able to continue to offer space for our community to gather.”
Since 1998, HBF has given more than $13 million in Foundation grants in support of youth programs serving the community. Focusing on strengthening community learning centers, providing safe harbors for children and teens during out of school times, as well as building organizational capacity and providing for emergency and basic needs, the Foundation and its partners are supporting the community from within to encourage the next generation of leaders.
About the Helen Bader Foundation
Milwaukee-based Helen Bader Foundation, Inc. is a philanthropic leader in improving the quality of life of the diverse communities in which it works. The Foundation supports innovative projects and programs through grants, convening partners, and sharing knowledge to affect emerging issues in key areas. Awarding an average of $10 million annually, the Foundation has an emphasis on youth, aging and workforce development for at risk populations. The Foundation has awarded more than $225 million in grants and $15 million in Program Related Investments such as loans and equity investments since 1992.