By Karen Stokes
The public phase of the $700 million philanthropic campaign is underway for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation whose focus is building a Milwaukee for all.
The foundation’s Greater Together Campaign, a comprehensive campaign spanning 2017-2023, is inviting everyone to play a role in reaching their goals for the community.
“The Greater Milwaukee Foundation has been in the community since 1915,” said Kristen Mekemson, vice president of development and philanthropic services. “We’ve been serving the community for over a century to work with donors to achieve their passions and intent to serve the community.”
Wisconsin’s largest community foundation meets present day needs and prepares for future issues by way of donors. Every year, a portion of each fund is used to make grants to support a wide range of programs and agencies in the community, as stated by each donor.
“We work with donors at many different levels according to their interest areas and passions,” said Fiesha Lynn Bell, associate director of major gifts.
Racial equity is the foundation’s North Star, guiding its investments and strategies for social and economic change.
Through partnerships and investment, the foundation is focused on advancing the building blocks of a better life, specifically five priorities for community impact so that all of this city can thrive.
The foundation’s five priorities for community impact are as follows:
-The ThriveOn Collaboration – a new model to address interrelated health, economic, social and racial inequities together through a historic, place-based investment
-Early childhood care and education – a generational investment in creating an accessible, affordable, high-quality early childhood care and education system for all
-Housing – bringing dignified, affordable housing within everyone’s reach
-Impact investing – an innovative use of capital for social and economic impact
-And flexible funding – the means to address emerging issues, pressing needs and important opportunities as they arise
“These are the strategic priorities we know we need to double down on to create a Milwaukee for All. These investment opportunities are open to everyone and anyone,” Mekemson said.
“Some of the projects we’ve worked on donors co-invested right alongside us,” Bell said. That is what we did to establish Sherman Phoenix through our impact investing program.”
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation also has had a long-standing partnership with America’s Black Holocaust Museum, 401 W. North Ave.
“Our donors have invested alongside us in sustaining the organization ensuring it would grow and prosper even through COVID,” Bell said.
The foundation not only offers tax advantages and sound investment options for donors but engages with the voice of the community to understand its needs and challenges.
“We are committed to our new neighborhood in the Harambee, Brewers Hill and Halyard Park area,” Bell said. “We are relocating to the old Gimbels Schuster’s building. We are invested in the neighborhood and the surrounding area.”
Serving as co-chairs of the Greater Together Campaign are Peter Bruce, Cecelia Gore, Dave Kundert and Linda Mellowes. To-date, the Greater Together campaign has raised nearly $500 million toward its goal.
Leah Fiasca, director of development said there are three ways to give, by starting or growing a fund, co-investing in campaign priorities and by leaving a legacy.
“Donors can participate in one or all three of the categories,” Fiasca said. “Choose your own adventure with us.”
To learn more about The Greater Milwaukee Foundation or to donate, go to greatermilwaukeefoundation.org. Or contact them directly for more information at 414-272-5805.
“It’s very important to us that our donor base reflects our community,” Mekemson said. “Everyone has a role to play.”