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1915 From Cleveland to MKE

Oliver C. Fuller introduces the community foundation concept to Milwaukee, after having learned about its impact in Cleveland the year before when it was created by banker Frederick H. Goff as a “means of intelligent charity.” Fuller, a Georgia native, was an investment banker and financier who founded the Wisconsin Trust Company, a consolidation of the Wisconsin National Bank and First National Bank, in 1903. He was active in many area businesses, including Northwestern Mutual Life, Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co. and the Milwaukee Gas Light Company.

1915 Birth of the Milwaukee Foundation

MKE-Foundation-Logo.jpgThe First Wisconsin Trust Company agrees to accept and manage “gifts, devises and bequests” intended by their donors to be “annually devoted perpetually to charitable purposes.” That Declaration of Trust, signed on May 24, thereby creates the Milwaukee Foundation. The Foundation was among the second wave of community foundations, including Chicago Community Trust, California Community Foundation, Boston Foundation, Greater St. Louis Community Foundation and Minneapolis Foundation, to sprout up in the country at that time.

1915 Let’s get down to business

The Milwaukee Foundation Committee, predecessor to today’s Board of directors, holds its inaugural meeting on Aug. 4 at 11:30 a.m. at Oliver C. Fuller’s office at the First Wisconsin Trust Company. Founding fathers include Oliver C. Fuller, Isaac D. Adler, president of the David Adler & Sons Clothing Company; Fred S. Hunt, president of the Milwaukee Dustless Brush Company; Paul D. Carpenter, attorney and Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge; Adolph Finkler, secretary and treasurer of the Albert Trostel & Sons Company; and Clement C. Smith, president of the Heil Company. Patrick Cudahy attends the meeting, but announces he cannot give necessary time to the work of the Foundation. Clement C. Smith is named by the Wisconsin Trust Co. to serve in his place. 

1915 Foundation's first donor

oliver-fuller-sm.jpgOliver C. Fuller makes the Foundation’s first gift at that first meeting on Aug. 4, directing the $1,000 check be distributed between Foundation operating expenses, if any, and “among organized, charitable associations in the city of Milwaukee,” subject to his approval. Fuller requests the donation be entered without disclosing his name or the amount.

1915 Foundation awards first grant

Wisconsin-University-Settlement-Association-sm.jpgThe Milwaukee Foundation makes its first community investment on Aug. 10 via a $50 grant to the Wisconsin University Settlement Association, per Oliver Fuller’s request. Founded by sociologist Herbert Jacobs, the settlement association fought the city’s social and economic problems. It was geared toward helping underprivileged neighborhoods and providing needy families with clubs and classes in English literature, arithmetic and sewing.

1915 Milwaukee industrialist makes big investment; creates first permanent fund

Patrick-Cudahy-sm.jpgMilwaukee meat packing industrialist Patrick Cudahy encloses a $25,000 check with a letter postmarked Nov. 16 to the Wisconsin Trust Company, the Milwaukee Foundation’s trustee, with the following instructions: “It is my wish that the income from the said $25,000 be paid in equal portions to Associated Charities, Little Sisters of the Poor, St. Rose’s Catholic Orphan Asylum and St. Vincent’s Catholic Infant Asylum…I wish to apologize for expressing a wish as to what disposition is to be made of the proceeds, as I believe that charity should be as broad as the ocean, yet I am familiar with the workings of those four institutions, and know them to be well and economically managed. I also know them to be deserving, and I think they are somewhat neglected by the general public.”

1916 Milwaukee Foundation selects first group of grantees

Childrens-Free-Hospital-sm.jpgThe six-member Milwaukee Foundation Committee awards a total of $325 between the following agencies: Associated Charities, University Settlement, Home for the Friendless, Milwaukee Infants’ Home, Milwaukee Children’s Free Hospital, Volunteers of America and Boys’ Busy Life Club. By the end of the first grantmaking year, the committee awards a total $2,150 in grants.

1916 Levalley leaves a legacy

As noted in the Milwaukee Foundation minutes from its Dec. 20 meeting, inventor and Chain Belt Company founder Christopher Warren Levalley and his wife, Helen, make the Milwaukee Foundation’s first documented deferred gift through a remainder interest in a $100,000 trust.

1917 Cudahy hopes to awaken interest in the Foundation

Cudahy hopes to awaken interest in the Foundation Patrick Cudahy makes an additional $50,000 gift on Dec. 3 to the Milwaukee Foundation, saying while he “prefers not to make any splash about the gift, as at this particular time everybody and everything is pointed toward helping to win the war…” he understands if “you would like to do a little advertising in order to awaken some interest in the Foundation.” His contributions remain the principal asset in the Milwaukee Foundation, and its only public fund, for the next 17 years.

1924 Extra! Extra! Read all about it

The First Wisconsin Trust Company pays $428.50 to sponsor advertisements about the Milwaukee Foundation in local papers. The understated ads feature three short paragraphs, highlighting the purpose and people behind the public trust

1924 Slow growth

The Milwaukee Foundation grows to $75,000 in assets. The Foundation’s counterparts in other communities are a bit farther ahead in terms of accumulated wealth, however. By comparison, its predecessor, the Cleveland Foundation, has built up $340,514 in its endowment. 


1926 Return to sender

In a July 16 letter to Milwaukee Foundation secretary George B. Luhman, Sister Marie Aline of the Little Sisters of the Poor expresses the desire of the head Superiors to decline a gift from the Patrick Cudahy Fund. The Catholic order was dedicated to providing health care for poor Milwaukee residents since 1876. The designation is changed to support the Milwaukee Catholic Home for the Aged.

1934 Mining manufacturing giant joins Foundation family

Henry-Harnischfeger-sm.jpgWith $50,000 from the estate of Henry Harnischfeger, the Harnischfeger Fund is born. The German native was president and founder of Harnischfeger Industries, an electric crane and mining equipment manufacturing firm, and was credited with inventing the first gasoline-powered dragline after World War I in addition to developing numerous other heavy equipment products. His fund benefits the United Way of Greater Milwaukee (formerly Milwaukee Community Fund), of which Harnischfeger was one of the first directors.

1934 Retired brigadier general, manufacturer joins committee

Gen. Otto H. Falk begins a five-year term on the Milwaukee Foundation’s distribution committee. Falk was co-founder and vice president of the Falk Manufacturing Company and chair of the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company.

1938 Milwaukee Foundation welcomes its first private foundation

At the height of the Depression, the Foundation receives its first private foundation when the Hummel, Gregg and Wells Trust terminates and transfers its assets ($10,804.31) to the Milwaukee Foundation to create an unrestricted fund, which also was a first for the Foundation. 

1945 Son of Milwaukee beer baron creates first scholarship fund

emil-blatz-sm.jpgA $100,000 bequest from Emil Blatz gives birth on March 8 to the Foundation’s first scholarship fund. It was one of 21 charitable requests that the son of Valentine Blatz, founder of Milwaukee’s Blatz Brewery, made following his death in 1944. Emil Blatz served as bookkeeper, cashier and traveling auditor for the brewery and was a well-known Milwaukee philanthropist, most noted for his $100,000 gift to create the Temple of Music, a band shell in Washington Park. 

1947 Business and civic leader joins Foundation leadership

Milwaukee native and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company president Edmund Fitzgerald is elected to serve on the Milwaukee Foundation Board. He devotes 22 years to the job, including two as chairman from 1954 to 1956.

1947 Governor’s son begins first term as Board member

Joseph F. Heil starts his first term as Board member. The son of former Wisconsin Governor Julius P. Heil, Joseph chairs The Heil Co., a major manufacturer of transport trailers, dump trucks and other equipment. He continues serving the Foundation for another 13 years.

1954 First metropolitan fund created; benefits two dozen agencies

The four-county area begins to grow, with Brookfield’s incorporation in 1954, Elm Grove’s in 1955 and Mequon’s in 1957. The William H. Wasweyler Fund is created through a $500,000 portion of the Milwaukee industrialist’s estate, is the largest fund at the Foundation at the time and the first with a metropolitan focus. Wasweyler was president of the Milwaukee Brass Manufacturing Company, which specialized in goods used in the plumbing and steam fitting trades. He specified support for 25 different agencies, three of which did not exist following his death in 1928.

1956 Major milestone in community giving achieved

Oscar-Greenwald-sm.jpgThe Milwaukee Foundation reaches $1 million in assets, thanks to a $200,000 bequest of Edith Greenwald, the widow of Oscar Greenwald. Oscar was the grandson of Gimbels department store founder, manager of the Milwaukee Gimbels and a former Foundation Board member from 1925 to 1941. The Edith C. and J. Oscar Greenwald Fund provides care, treatment and education for disabled and otherwise physically challenged children.


1957 Frye Award honors Milwaukee Co. Park Commission president

The Milwaukee Foundation presents Walter H. Bender, president of the Milwaukee County Park Commission, with its first William C. Frye Award. The award was created through Frye’s will to honor individuals who “contribute something to make a better community of the city of Milwaukee, the place of my birth.” At the time of his death, Frye was the chair of the Milwaukee Foundation Committee and had dedicated 20 years of service to the Foundation. He also was the former president of the Chain Belt Co. and was very active in the community, including the Milwaukee War Memorial and Milwaukee Children’s Foundation. Bender was a leader in the planning and development of the Milwaukee County Zoo, Mitchell Park Conservatory, Milwaukee County Stadium and the lake front marina.

1960 Tanner’s great grandson comes on board

William D. Vogel begins a 15-year stint on the Milwaukee Foundation Committee. Vogel is the great grandson of Fred Vogel, cofounder of Pfister & Vogel Leather Company and oversaw the Vogel family’s real estate investment company, P&V Atlas Industrial Center. His service to the Foundation includes a stint as chair from 1969 to 1971.

1962 Year in review

Annual-Report-Cover-1962-sm.jpgThe Foundation prints its inaugural annual report, covering the period between July 1, 1961 and June 30, 1962. Among the many highlights in the four-sided brochure were details about the Foundation’s assets ($1,426,957), grants ($55,832.30 distributed to 38 agencies) and its number of funds (22).

1967 Restructured and reinvigorated

Less than a decade after it reached the $1 million mark in assets, the Milwaukee Foundation’s assets grow to $2.25 million. It took the Foundation 41 years to meet that $1 million milestone


1969 Movin’ on up

The Milwaukee Foundation opens its first office at the Pabst Building, 110 E. Wisconsin Ave. The 14-story building, built in 1892, was Milwaukee’s first skyscraper. The Foundation shares office space with Faye McBeath and Walter and Olive Stiemke foundations.

1969 Community foundations benefit from new tax reforms

President Richard Nixon signs the U.S. Tax Reform Act of 1969 on Dec. 30, which among many items, declared community foundations as public charities. The act also imposes numerous constraints on private foundations, making them more burdensome in terms of administration and making community foundations like the Milwaukee Foundation more advantageous as a vehicle for charitable giving.

1970 New face of the Foundation

After 55 years without any dedicated staff, the Milwaukee Foundation welcomes its first full-time staff member and its first executive director by hiring David Huntington, former director of placement at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He also serves as secretary for the Faye McBeath Foundation and administrator of the Walter and Olive Stiemke Foundation. During his tenure, the Foundation’s assets grow from $4 million to more than $114 million.

1970 Lauritzen begins long-term relationship with Foundation

Andy-Lauritzen-sm.jpgAttorney and Milwaukee native Andrew Lauritzen begins a 40-year career as the Milwaukee Foundation’s legal adviser. Lauritzen takes over the role from Dudley Godfrey, co founder of Godfrey & Kahn law firm.

1970 Fund elevates region’s aesthetic and social life

Eleanore Conrad, daughter of beer baron Jacob Best, leaves about $700,000 in her will to the Milwaukee Foundation to create a fund in the name of her and her husband, Ernst, to benefit “the handicapped, the aged and inform, to provide health facilities and programs, cultural programs and civic enterprises.” Eleanore, was a longtime patron of the arts and was known as the “fountain lady” for donating fountains to the Performing Arts Center and the Milwaukee Public Museum. Her husband founded the Milwaukee Real Estate Board (later known as the Milwaukee Board of Realtors). Among the many projects it supported, the fund helped finance Milwaukee’s first Nutcracker production in 1977.

1972 VA nurse and civic leader joins Foundation leadership

Edith-Finlayson-sm.jpgEdith Finlayson, appointed by the senior judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, becomes the Milwaukee Foundation’s first African-American Board member. Finlayson was the first African American nurse at Milwaukee’s Veterans Administration and served on a number of local boards including the Greater Milwaukee Committee, NAACP and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. She replaces Irwin Maier, chairman of The Journal Company, who served five years on the Board

1973 Building a repository for area foundation history

Encouragement and a small grant from the Milwaukee Foundation’s Frederick C. Beals Fund, created by the vice president of Mid-State Shoe Company, helps create the Foundation Collection at Marquette University’s Raynor Memorial Library. The initial collection includes annual reports and IRS returns of about 7,500 Midwest foundations as well as publications related to fundraising, proposal writing and philanthropy. It is one of 10 such programs at the time operated in conjunction with the Foundation Center, a national source of information about philanthropy.

1973 Great minds think alike

With leadership from Foundation executive director David Huntington and Gardner Foundation president Gardner Friedlander, a small group of Milwaukee-area foundation representatives meet to explore common interests. The group, known as Foundation Forum of Southeastern Wisconsin, begins holding monthly luncheon gatherings and later becomes the Donors Forum of Wisconsin.

1974 Foundation leadership grows to seven members

The Milwaukee Foundation’s original Declaration of Trust is amended to expand the number of Board members from five to seven. Elizabeth Cutler, daughter of  Northwestern Mutual’s Edmund Fitzgerald, and William C. Messinger, chairman of Rex Chainbelt, are appointed as new members. Messinger was in the first class of appointments made by the rest of the Foundation Board.

1974 Fund created in honor of Columbia Savings and Loan founders

Wilber-and-Ardie-Haylaryd-sm.jpgEdith Finlayson chairs a fundraising effort that leads to the creation of the Wilbur and Ardie A. Halyard Scholarship Fund in honor of the African American couple who played a pivotal role in Milwaukee’s history as founders of the Columbia Savings and Loan Association. The fund commemorates the association’s 50th anniversary. When the Halyards arrived in Milwaukee in 1923, African Americans could not obtain mortgages for home purchases. The couple started Columbia Savings and Loan to remedy that situation. Wilbur went door to door throughout Milwaukee’s African American community to find depositors and Ardie tended the financial records at night after a full-time job at Goodwill. Ten years passed before either took a salary. Instead, they put all available funds into home loans. Ardie, known as the matron of the Milwaukee NAACP, was instrumental in reviving the city’s NAACP chapter in the 1920s. She also helped rejuvenate a branch in Racine and organize one in Kenosha. The fund supports African-American students preparing for careers in business or finance.

1975 Foundation friends help increase its visibility within area

Robert-Zigman sm.jpgUnder the leadership of Donald C. Slichter, president and chair of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., the Milwaukee Foundation Associates is created to help interpret the Foundation’s role and increase its visibility within greater Milwaukee. The inaugural group numbers 31 members, including former Board members and Foundation friends such as Robert S. Zigman, public relations executive, Harry C. Brockel, longtime Milwaukee port director; and Marie Uihlein, philanthropist, volunteer and wife of former Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. president.

1975 Westward bound

The Milwaukee Foundation moves its headquarter a couple of blocks west along Wisconsin Avenue – and across the Milwaukee River – to the newly restored John Plankinton Building, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave. 

1975 An eye toward growth

The Milwaukee Foundation’s assets reach $6 million, a feat 60 years in the making. After reviewing the Foundation’s asset growth within recent years and the pattern of expansion of other community foundations across the country, the Board establishes a goal to double its asset size over the next five years by bringing in $6 million in new funds. 


1975 Musical tribute to mentor

A gift from acclaimed jazz musician and Milwaukee native Woody Herman creates the Woody Herman-Sister Fabian Scholarship Fund. The music scholarship fund paid tribute to the memory of Sister Fabian Reilly, his teacher at St. John’s Cathedral High School who served as his musical inspiration. The scholarship helps financially deserving students who are interested in pursuing a music career. In addition to playing clarinet and saxophone, Herman was a singer and internationally known big band leader.

1976 Keeping Foundation friends informed

The Milwaukee Foundation produces its first quarterly newsletter in September and distributes 6,000 copies to area nonprofit agency executives, government officials and community leaders.

1976 Milwaukee Brewers create lasting tribute to home run king

Hank-Aaron-sm.jpgAt the “Salute to Hank Aaron Night” at Milwaukee County Stadium on Sept. 17, in front of 55,000 fans, the Milwaukee Brewers announce that it created a Hank Aaron Youth Fund at the Milwaukee Foundation in tribute to the home run king. The fund provides scholarships to help talented young people ages 8 to 12 pursue their dreams. Contributions pour in from the business community, other Major League Baseball teams and individual donors throughout the country. In less than a month, the fund passes the $10,000 mark. 

1976 Arts group creates Foundation’s first agency endowment

The United Performing Arts Fund contributes $39,240 in December toward the creation of the Milwaukee Foundation’s first agency endowment fund as a way to ensure its financial stability. The umbrella arts organization began less than 10 years prior to ensure the financial stability of organizations that would be performing in the downtown Milwaukee’s new Performing Arts Center, which included Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Association of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Bel Canto Chorus, Florentine Opera Company, Skylight Theatre and Music for Youth.

1977 A standout among its peers

The Milwaukee Foundation reaches nearly $8 million in assets, leading it to become 25th among more than 225 of its peers in terms of asset size. It marks the first time in its history that its gives out more than $1 million in grants.


1977 Children’s Foundation lives on

The Children’s Foundation of Milwaukee, a 34-year-old private foundation created by the late Irma Manegold Hennes, daughter of one of Milwaukee’s first park commissioners, Charles Manegold Jr., transfers its $56,835 in assets to Milwaukee Foundation. The fund, created Dec. 12, provides for “the needs, comfort, and general welfare from a medical, psychiatric, therapeutic or welfare point of view of sick, crippled, underprivileged, afflicted, subnormal or convalescent children.” 

1978 Development director hired to grow Foundation’s assets

Arnold D.K. Mason is appointed as the Milwaukee Foundation’s first director of development on Jan. 1. Mason was a longtime Milwaukee resident, widely known civic leader and retired vice president and general manager of Marshall Field & Company. He is charged with facilitating the Foundation’s expansion.

1978 Brewing family offspring set up fund to serve broad needs of the community

A transfer of $1.2 million in assets from a once private foundation creates the Charles Edgar Albright and Laura Uihlein Albright Fund in December. Laura was one of seven children of Henry Uihlein, an owner and manager of the Schlitz Brewing Company. Charles was a medical examiner for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company and served as a director of many corporations including First Wisconsin Trust Company, Allis-Chalmers and Schlitz Brewing Company. He later became one of the nation’s most successful life insurance salesmen. It marks the largest transfer of private foundation funds that the Foundation had received since its beginning.

1979 Meeting the community’s mental health needs

The Milwaukee Foundation joins forces with 11 other community foundations in the National Community Foundations Mental Health Project, which is designed to share experiences in identifying and stimulating responses to the community’s mental health needs. A major study was undertaken with the Mental Health Association in Milwaukee County and the Planning Council for Mental Health and Social Services. As a result, the Board decided to allocate more than $145,000 for special projects in the field and direct its mental health grantmaking priorities at children, the elderly and chronically mentally ill.

1980 Spreading the word

The Milwaukee Foundation, ranked in the top 20 of more than 230 community foundations at the time, celebrates its 65th anniversary with a concerted effort to raise its public profile. Three public service TV announcements and a print ad were created by Channel 4. The 30-second and 60-second spots run on Channel 4, 6, 12, 18 and 24. A special exhibit on the Foundation runs at the Milwaukee County Historical Society and a special message is placed on Milwaukee’s City Hall tower.

1980 Celebrating its roots

Celebrating-its-roots-sm.jpgA tree is planted and a plaque installed on June 4 in Milwaukee’s downtown Pere Marquette Park, following the Foundation’s 65th annual meeting, to commemorate the Foundation’s roots in the community. 

1980 Remembering a friend

Joseph Uihlein Jr. and his wife, GeorgAnna, create the John Ernst Memorial Fund on July 3 in memory of their friend, John Ernst, a noted restaurateur who came to Milwaukee from Hungary in 1923. The friendship between Ernst and the Uihleins dates back to the days when Ernst worked as a waiter at the Ogden Café at 600 E. Ogden Ave. in Milwaukee. Ernst later took ownership of the café, renaming it the John Ernst Café and building it into a place that became known for its old world cuisine. The fund provides annual scholarships for postsecondary students studying food service administration and/or restaurant management at MATC, Waukesha Area Technical College and University of Wisconsin-Stout. 

1983 Program launches to support young scientists

Shaw-Scientists-sm.jpgIn a brief paragraph in Dorothy Shaw’s 10-page will, the quiet and conservative widow of prominent Milwaukee attorney James D. Shaw leaves the Foundation the balance of her estate – about $4.5 million – to support research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the fields of biochemistry, biological science and cancer research. With such largesse, the Foundation creates the Shaw Scientist program. The program, aided with the leadership of Medical College of Wisconsin president Leonard Cronkite and overseen by a selection committee of scientists from around the country, provides unrestricted funding to young scientists. University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Michael M. Cox and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peter J. Wejksnora are selected as the program’s first recipients.

1984 Broadway bound

Broadway-Building-sm.jpgIn July, the Milwaukee Foundation relocates its office to the German-English Academy building at 1020 N. Broadway in downtown Milwaukee. The three story stone and Cream City brick building originally was home to the German language school, which later became the Milwaukee University School. The space is twice the size of the Foundation’s office in the Plankinton Building and affords it more room to grow

1984 Foundation bolsters development, program staff

Marks-Heiser-Moore-sm.jpgWithin months of moving into its new digs on Broadway, the Milwaukee Foundation embarks on a modest staff expansion by hiring Jim Marks, former director of the planning Council for Mental Health and Social Services, as assistant director; Jane Moore as program officer and Doris Heiser as donor relations associate, to assist the rapidly growing Foundation in grantmaking and development.

1984 Making a difference in Mequon

The city of Mequon creates a fund with assets left by the estate of longtime resident Hiram Schmitt. The field of interest fund – Mequon/Hiram Schmitt Fund – supports agencies offering educational, health and/or other human service programs within Mequon or that serves its residents. Its first grant of $1,500 supports programs offered by Advocates Helping Battered Women and Families.

1984 Bienvenidos a Victor Vega

In December, the Victor Vega Educational Fund becomes the Foundation’s first fund created by a person of Latino descent. Victor, a Peruvian native, was sent to the United States by his parents in the early 1930s so he might benefit from the high standards of education here. The fund provides scholarships and financial assistance for students from Peru and other South American counties who are attending Wisconsin colleges and universities.

1984 Stiemke stirs Foundation growth, development

Walter-and-Olive-Steimke-sm.jpgAfter 20 years as a private foundation, the Walter and Olive Stiemke Foundation transfers $8.7 million in assets to the Milwaukee Foundation on Dec. 31. During the previous two decades, the foundation made 333 grants for a total of more than $4.3 million to support area nonprofits. Its principal purpose was to meet the capital needs of local agencies, but it also specifically worked toward strengthening the community trust. For a number of years the Stiemke Foundation made annual grants to the Milwaukee Foundation to facilitate its management, development and public awareness. The two foundations also shared staff and offices during critical years of the Milwaukee Foundation’s growth. The new fund becomes the largest of the Foundation’s 119 funds and brings its total assets to more than $40 million.


1985 Attorney creates charitable fund to nurture good ideas

Harry-Franke-sm.jpgA good idea needs a little encouragement, and more often than not, a little financial support. The Harry and Mary Franke Idea Fund, created by attorney Harry Franke and his wife in December, seeds promising ideas with start-up grants. Among the many ideas and projects that came to fruition with help from the Idea Fund was the landmark tower clock in front of the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, which had once graced Chicago & North Western Railway passenger depot, the Center for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the Salute to Local Government Awards and the Milwaukee Public Market.

1985 Grant gives Rep place to spread its wings

Foundation awards $750,000 grant to the Milwaukee Rep Theater to finance construction of its newest facility, the Stiemke Theater. It marks the largest grant in the Foundation’s history at that point and allowed the theater company to build a smaller, more flexible theater that gave a home to groups like Next Act and the Milwaukee Chamber Theater.

1985 Great grant for the Great Lakes

Kenneth-Nealson.-sm.jpgThrough a $175,000 grant from the James D. Shaw and Dorothy Shaw Fund, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee creates a Shaw Visiting Scientist position at its Center for Great Lakes Studies and recruits Kenneth Nealson, a researcher from Scripps Institute in California, as the first scientist in that role.

1986 Creating social change for women and girls

Womens-Fund.jpgA 36-member task force of local female leaders, including Alberta Darling, Sue Dragisic, Sister M. Kliebhan and Betty V. Quadracci, creates the Women’s Fund, with $50,000 in seed money from the Milwaukee Foundation. The fund embarks on a initial goal to raise $1 million in contributions so that it can provide financial support for programs that provide social change for women and girls. Milwaukee joins about 35 other cities that have created funds specifically for the needs of women and girls. It remains as a part of the Foundation for nearly 20 years before becoming a separate nonprofit in 2005.

1986 Providing a boost to small arts organizations

Alice-Kadish-sm.jpgOn Jan. 1, the Fund for the Arts makes its first grant – $2,000 – to Artreach Milwaukee. The fund was created in 1985 after the Foundation was selected as one of 13 recipients nationwide to receive a four-year challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The challenge grant promises $35,000 annually if the Foundation raises twice that amount each year to support small- and medium-sized arts organizations. Alice Kadish, a longtime Milwaukee Public Schools elementary school teacher, provided the $70,000 in matching funds.

1986 Stop the presses! Journal employees start new funds

journal-foundation-sm.jpgIn December, stimulated by the efforts of Journal Communications chair Thomas J. McCollow, a cluster of permanent funds form the Journal Foundation, which represents contributions from more than 33 active and retired employees of Journal Communications. The gifts commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Journal Employees Stock Trust Agreement, which provided for employee ownership of the company. 

1986 Foundation grant launches group that focuses on preservation

Ten thousand dollars from the Caroline Draves Fund supports development of The Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit statewide organization that provides a unified forum and focus for various preservation groups. It came out of an initial meeting of 30 individuals representing real estate development, philanthropy, lending, architecture, archaeology, law and preservation agencies at Wingspread retreat in Racine to consider the future of historic preservation in the state. 

1987 Tackling the diseases that touched their family

A bequest from three sisters – Elsa, Laura and Margaret Schoeneich – jumpstarts the Schoeneich Medical Research Fund. The fund, started Aug. 1, is designated to support research to eliminate cancer, heart disease and Parkinson’s disease. Elsa was a math teacher at Milwaukee’s Custer High School for 38 years and she specified the emphasis on targeting those three diseases because they had affected members of her immediate family.

1988 Wisconsin AIDS Fund created to lessen impact of disease

WAF-Logo.jpgThe Wisconsin AIDS Fund is established June 4 to support programs directed at the prevention and spread of AIDS, and care and treatment services for those infected in Wisconsin, primarily greater Milwaukee. It is the only fund in the state directed exclusively at the problem of AIDS.

1988 Inaugural Kirkpatrick award recognizes civic leader for redevelopment work in Milwaukee

T.MichaelBolger-sm.jpgFoundation awards its second major civic award – the inaugural Frank Kirkpatrick Award – to T. Michael Bolger, former president of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, for his role in the development of the Milwaukee Theater District. The civic award, created in 1987 through the trust of Frank Kirkpatrick, acknowledges the work of those who have enhanced the quality of life in greater Milwaukee, particularly through real estate, physical development and redevelopment projects. Kirkpatrick was a prominent figure in Milwaukee real estate and development circles.

1989 Investing in future growth

Foundation begins working with Colonial Consulting as investment adviser, a change that improved the Foundation’s investment practices/management. Foundation hires Sharon Loxton as its first controller.

1989 Successful recipe for philanthropy

As a tribute to their employer, Catherine T. Clark, employees of Brownberry Ovens in Oconomowoc create a scholarship fund Dec. 29 that would support students at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas. Using an old family recipe, Clark began Brownberry Ovens in 1946 in an old grocery store. She grew it into a nationally successful business that is known for low fat and heart healthy wheat bread and specialty rolls.

1989 Foundation board expands

Milwaukee Foundation brings on two additional board members, bumping up the group to 10. The newbies are Charles McNeer, chairman and CEO of Wisconsin Energy Corp., and Harry F. Franke, a Wisconsin legislator, attorney and well-known lobbyist.

1990 Addressing some of community’s most persistent challenges

The Ford Foundation launches the Neighborhood and Family Initiative in four cities – Detroit, Hartford, Memphis and Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Foundation was approached by the Ford Foundation as the local sponsor and fiscal agent for the local community development effort. The Foundation chooses to focus its efforts on Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood and hires Sarah Ann Ford, former director of the Division of Economic Development at Waukesha County Technical College, to oversee the project. One of the outcomes of the initiative was the creation of the MLK Economic Development Corporation.

1990 Focusing on needs of young children and their families

The Milwaukee Foundation embarks on an ambitious initiative that involves the Walker’s Point neighborhood on Milwaukee’s south side. The Milwaukee Foundation commits at least $3 million over the next five years toward the Families and Children in Poverty: A Prevention Initiative to encourage the development of strategies and programs that help the physical, emotional and economic well-being of low-income families with children under the age of 6. Fred Gutierrez, former executive director of La Casa de Esperanza in Waukesha, is hired to spearhead the initiative.

1990 Foundation celebrates diamond jubilee

More than 500 people gather June 6 at the Pabst Theater to attend the Milwaukee Foundation’s annual meeting, which celebrates its 75th birthday. Since its beginning, the Foundation has distributed more than $35 million in grants, with most of the activity occurring since the late 1960s. It has more than 200 funds and $83 million in assets.

1990 Helping teen parents become self sufficient

A group of African American women, including Milwaukee activist Lucinda Gordon, create a permanent endowment called the Lady Pitts Community Support Fund to help teen parents prepare for careers after high school graduation. Gordon led efforts to open the Lady Pitts Program for School-Age Parents as an alternative school for pregnant seventh through twelfth graders and served as its director. 

1991 From little acorns do big oaks grow

Jon-Barsanti-sm.jpgJon Barsanti, a retired CPA, former senior tax partner with Ernst & Young and Foundation volunteer, creates a new giving concept called the Acorn Fund. The fund allows donors to create a permanent fund by making relatively small contributions over a period of time. Other community foundations nationwide and eventually across the globe start offering the option as to grow their group of philanthropists.

1991 Artistic couple create fund to stimulate creative talents of others

Milwaukee artist Schomer Lichtner creates a fund to “give encouragement and support to museums and educational institutions in special efforts to stimulate increased recognition of the artistic accomplishments and creative talents of Wisconsin artists.” Both Lichtner and his wife, Ruth Grotenrath, were well known artists who became involved in the Federal Works Progress Administration’s Treasury Relief Art Project. Two hallmarks of his work are cows and ballerinas.

1992 Contributions climb to second largest in Foundation history

The Milwaukee Foundation expands to include more than $114 million in assets, including an infusion of $9.6 million in contributions. That generosity from donors marks the second largest amount of contributions given in a year.


1992 “Girl reporter” leaves money to support future journalists

Ione-Quinby-Griggs-sm.jpgShe began as a reporter by trade and became most well known over the course of 50 years as a daily advice columnist. Upon her death, Ione Quinby Griggs left the bulk of her estate to create the Ione Quinby Griggs Journalism Scholarship Fund on Feb. 26, to be devoted to awarding scholarship grants to needy and/or talented students who are pursuing an undergraduate or graduate education in the field of journalism.

1993 Foundation selects new leader

Doug-Jansson-sm.jpgCleveland native Doug Jansson succeeds David Huntington as the Milwaukee Foundation leader on Jan. 1. No stranger to the community foundation world, Jansson served as the executive director of the Rhode Island Foundation of Providence for 14 years and spent five years working at the Chicago Community Trust. At the time, the Foundation had assets of roughly $114 million.

1993 Foundation benefits from South Milwaukee couple’s largesse

Grielachs-sm.jpgThe Foundation receives the largest gift in its history in April: a $10 million bequest from Carl and Alma S. Greilach. The South Milwaukee couple designates their gift supports several agencies serving the blind, ill and destitute: Wisconsin Council of the Blind, Badger Home for the Blind, Salvation Army, Milwaukee Division, Milwaukee Rescue Mission and the Wisconsin Heart Association. Carl headed up Hynite Corporation, a processor of scrap leather into fertilizer additives. 

1993 Admirers of African American barrister create fund in his honor

Friends and fans of Judge Clarence Randolph Parrish create a designated fund on May 13 to support African Americans who are interested in pursuing a law career. Parrish, a North Carolina native, was the first African American appointed to Wauwatosa’s city administration. He was a member of the city, state and national bar associations, headed up the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP, founded the Milwaukee graduate chapter of Omega Psi Pi and served on the board of the YWCA.

1994 Providing life-changing experiences for area youth

Camps-for-Kids-Logo.jpgThe Foundation, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a number of youth-serving agencies join together to create Camps for Kids scholarship program to give central city children a chance to attend summer camps. In its first year it received financial support from 412 donors and sent 179 kids to camp.

1994 Foundations join together to strengthen nonprofit sector

NonprofitManagementFundLogo.jpgMilwaukee Foundation, Faye McBeath and Helen Bader foundations launch a funder’s collaborative in July called the Nonprofit Management Fund to address challenges facing nonprofits and improve their management effectiveness and efficiency.

1994 River Hills president gives back to help ‘needy, ailing and poor’

Catherine-and-Walter-Lindsay-sm.jpgCatherine and Walter Lindsay Foundation is incorporated into the Milwaukee Foundation family. The once private foundation was created by Walter Lindsay, one of the individuals responsible for the incorporation of River Hills. He was a Scotland native who moved to Milwaukee at age 25 and helped found Lindsay-McMillan Oil Company and Goodwill Industries. He created his private foundation in 1963 to help the needy, ailing and poor of the community.

1994 New policy ensures steady grantmaking despite unsteady times

The Milwaukee Foundation Board adopts a new policy, which takes effect July 1, aimed at ensuring a steadier flow of funds for grantmaking. Instead of basing its grant levels on investment income and dividends, the Board adopts a policy that pegs its budget to a 20-quarter average of assets.

1995 Cooking up a way to support the community

The Settlement Cook Book Fund is created in November after the private Settlement Cookbook Company Foundation transfers its assets to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, becoming the 22nd private foundation to do so. At the turn of the century, many local organizations sprang up to help settle newly arriving immigrants. A group of women active in the Abraham Lincoln Settlement House published the first Settlement Cook Book in 1901 as a fundraiser. More than two million copies were sold since. In its 94 years of existence, the Settlement Cook Book Foundation provided more than $1 million in grants to local organizations. 

1996 Grantmaking milestone

The Milwaukee Foundation awards its first $1 million grant, thanks to the Walter and Olive Stiemke, Halbert and Alice Kadish and Elinor Gallun Pritzlaff funds. The grant supports the Milwaukee Art Museum’s capital campaign.


1996 Building up the next generation of philanthropists

Youth-in-Service-Fund-sm.jpgThe Milwaukee Foundation is selected as one of 13 community foundations nationwide to operate a program devoted to youth philanthropy. The result is the Youth in Service Fund, which promotes and supports the involvement of young people in service to the Milwaukee area community.

1997 Report measures state of local charitable giving

Report-Card-Cover-sm.jpgAfter undertaking a review of charitable giving trends the year before with research conducted by the Public Policy Forum, the Milwaukee Foundation shares the results with the public via the launch of the Report Card on Charitable Giving. The inaugural report is launched in November and details the state of philanthropy in metro Milwaukee based on detailed information provided by 63 nonprofit organizations. The report found that giving in the metro area is on the upswing, above average compared to the rest of the country.

1997 New mentoring program helps students advance to college

Sponsor-a-Scholar-sm.jpgThe Milwaukee Foundation and YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee work together to create Sponsor-A-Scholar, a mentoring program modeled after a program in Philadelphia. The program recruits academically talented low-income students, pairs them with a mentor and works with them throughout their four years of high school. Upon completion of high school, each student is promised a $5,000 college scholarship.

1997 High point for African American performing arts

High-Point-Fund-sm.jpgFive Milwaukee arts organizations band together to create a joint venture that would benefit African-American actors, directors, designers, choreographers and theater technicians. Called the High Point Fund, the fund’s goal equally supports the African-American Children’s Theater, City Ballet Theater, Hansberry-Sands Theater Company, Ko-Thi Dance company and Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Former deputy city library, Venora McKinney, spearheads the drive for donations.

1998 New record in grantmaking

The Milwaukee Foundation marks a new annual record as it gives out more than $11 million in grants during the year, with its largest grant ($115,000 from the Neighborhood and Family Initiative Fund) going to support the Martin Luther King Jr. Economic Development Corp.


1998 True Value owner remains true to hometown with fund

A bequest from the late Hilbert Scherffius in December creates a field of interest fund that supports programs in Oconomowoc. The Oconomowoc resident was owner and operator of the Lorleberg True Value Hardware Store, a business created by his great uncle, Hugo Lorleberg, in 1870. Hilbert started at the store in the early 1930s and became its manager in 1947. 

1999 West Bend leaders create community foundation

With $1 million in combined contributions from local West Bend leaders Cliff Nelson, former bank executive and vice president of West Bend Company, and Douglas Ziegler, former president and CEO of the Ziegler Cos., the West Bend Community Foundation is born. It becomes the Foundation’s first geographic affiliate.

1999 New fund advances health, well-being of African Americans

A group of 30 African American business and professional women created the African American Women’s Project Fund to support programs and causes that further the health, well-being and advancement of African-American women and girls.

2000 New name, same mission

Greater-Milwaukee-Foundation-Logo-2000.jpgName changes to Greater Milwaukee Foundation to better reflect the broad geographic area served by the Foundation.

2000 Program brings new teachers, strength to Milwaukee private schools

Urban-Education-Fellows-sm.jpgThe Burke Foundation and Greater Milwaukee Foundation partner together to fund the creation of an innovative alternative teacher certification program, Urban Education Fellows Program, which aims to stem the teacher brain drain that plagues urban schools. The intensive program is offered jointly by Mount Mary and Alverno colleges and allows students to earn their Wisconsin teaching certification as well as master’s degree in education while teaching full time. 

2000 Milwaukee County supervisor creates fund to pave the way to college for others

Bernice-Rose-sm.jpgIn February, Bernice K. Rose, known as a political and civil rights activist and the first black woman elected to the Milwaukee County Board, creates a designated fund to support African-American students who want to attend historically black colleges and universities. The Bernice K. Rose Memorial Scholarship Fund provides opportunities for local students to attend such higher educational institutions as Florida A&M and Howard University.

2001 Funding partnership supports LGBT community

Local funders, including the Cream City Foundation, Greater Milwaukee Foundation and National Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues, start a funders collaborative to support gay and lesbian community issues. The Milwaukee LGBT Funding Partnership’s mission is to expand funding of programs that serve the LGBT communities in southeastern Wisconsin and increase collaboration between LGBT groups and community organizations. 

2001 Standards of excellence

The Community Foundation Standards Committee certifies that the Foundation is in compliance with 41 standards of excellence, making it one of the first certified community foundations. The national standards cover mission, structure and governance, resource development, stewardship and accountability, grantmaking and community leadership, donor relations and communications.

2002 Donor’s foresight protects flora, fauna for future generations

Mequon-Nature-Preserve-sm.jpgMequon Nature Preserve is created, thanks to generosity and foresight of donor Dick Paddock, former chairman and owner of Milwaukee’s Time Insurance Company. Dick lived in a sixth-floor apartment at Alexian Village, which overlooked a stretch of land that he thought should be left undeveloped and preserved for others to enjoy. With a grant from his Paddock Fund, the city of Mequon and Ozaukee Washington Land Trust took his idea and ran with it, eventually securing, preserving and restoring 438 acres.

2002 Fox Point sculptor and outsider artist leaves sizable bequest

Mary-Nohl-sm.jpgLocal painter and sculptor Mary L. Nohl, born the year before the Greater Milwaukee Foundation began, leaves a $9.6 million bequest to the Foundation. The gift was the Foundation’s largest individual gift to date and also was among nearly $19 million that came from bequests during the year. The first round of grants from the fund is awarded the following year to a tune of $265,000 to support projects like the Milwaukee Art Museum’s “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend” exhibit.

2002 Two private foundations lead boost to Foundation assets

A record setting $52.9 million in contributions were made to the Foundation, more than doubling the previous high of $24.1 million that was set in 2000. The affiliation of two large private foundations – Bucyrus-Erie Foundation and Ziegler Foundation – lead to the boon in contributions.

2003 Funds from late local artist supports future of art community

With funds left by late artist Mary Nohl, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation creates the Mary L. Nohl Fund Individual Artist Fellowship, an annual program that provides unrestricted funds for local established and emerging artists to create new work or complete a work in progress. Inaugural fellowships are awarded to four emerging artists – Paul Amitai, Peter Barrickman, Mark Escribano and Liz Smith – and three established artists – Dick Blau, Michael Howard and Mark Mulhern. 

2003 Moving people out of poverty

EITC-Supersite-sm.jpgIn a move to help more people in the greater Milwaukee area move out of poverty, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation convenes Social Development Commission, Milwaukee Asset Building Coalition, UWM, the Milwaukee Health Department and the BadgerCare Network to discuss the federal Earned Income Tax Credit program. As a result of their discussion, the groups create three VITA Super Sites, places where free volunteer income tax assistance is provided to residents and they can receive help in accessing tax credits and enrolling in other assistance programs.

2004 Worldwide movement

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation joins more than 160 community foundation representatives from 33 countries at the field’s first global meeting, hosted by the Transatlantic Community Foundation Network in Berlin, Germany. 

2005 Moving from good to great

The Foundation adopts a new strategic plan under the “Good to Great” model where, among many goals, it aims to take on more of a community leadership role. It also agrees to focus discretionary grantmaking on programs that attempt to alleviate persistent poverty.

2005 Focused investment on area neighborhoods

Healthy-Neighborhoods-sm.jpgThe Foundation and the city of Milwaukee collaborate on Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, a new community development strategy used to help revitalize middle market neighborhoods through four key areas: improving physical conditions, stabilizing the real estate market, promoting positive image and building social connections.

2005 Banner year for the Foundation

Foundation celebrates its 90th year ($435 million in assets; $26.1 million in gifts; $23.6 million in grants, 924 funds)

2006 Influx of individual generosity

Through the generosity of donors and through solid investment performance, the Foundation reaches $500 million in assets. It also receives its highest level of individual contributions in one year: $60.8 million


2006 Program builds social capital within racial and ethnic diversity

Mosaic-Partnerships-sm.jpgAfter attending Aspen Institute’s Roundtable on Racial Equity and Society Seminar, Foundation Board member Joan Prince, Milwaukee Business Journal publisher Mark Sabljak and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett return to Milwaukee to launch the Foundation’s Mosaic Partnerships program. It pairs community leaders of different races, ethnicities and professions and encourages them to build trust and develop friendships over a nine-month period. The first class includes 228 area leaders.

2006 Investing in sustainability

Ceres Foundation, a Foundation supporting organization and the Foundation’s largest individual fund, is established in October. The $21 million fund is mainly dedicated to the support and promotion of sustainable agriculture.

2007 Recognition society created as memorial to Mueller

Herbert-Mueller-sm.jpgThe Herbert J. Mueller Society is created in June in honor of the local attorney who worked with his clients to start more than a dozen Foundation funds with gifts totaling nearly $50 million. Along with Walter Stiemke, Mueller is credited with pushing for the Foundation to amend its Declaration of Trust to allow multiple trustees.

2007 Foundation helps create new resource for people in crisis

MRMC sm.jpgA new public/private partnership called the Milwaukee Crisis Resource Center opens on Milwaukee’s south side. The Foundation is the lead local funder on the project, which receives matching money from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and provides a new resource for recovery for people suffering from a psychiatric crisis.

2008 Foundation embarks upon new era in civic engagement

Marcus-White.jpgCommunity Partnerships Department created in June as new area that will guide Foundation’s new civic engagement efforts and help it take a more active role in addressing some of the most critical needs facing metro Milwaukee. Marcus White, former executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, hired to lead the new efforts.

2008 Supporting area’s struggling families

Milwaukee-Rescue-Mission-sm.jpgIn December the Foundation creates the Basic Needs Fund is created to help metro Milwaukee food pantries and emergency shelters help meet the 10 to 25 percent increases in demand for their services due to the economic downturn. More than $300,000 is allocated to 17 agencies less than a month later.

2009 New history brewing in Schlitz Park

Schlitz-Park-sm.jpgOn April 22, the Foundation moves in to Bottlehouse B at the Historic Schlitz Park Complex in order to better serve donors, nonprofits and the community. The new space provides more space for a growing staff as well as a growing focus on convenings and other community partnerships.

2010 Foundation reaches more than a half billion in assets

Fifty five additional funds are created at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, bumping up its assets to nearly $570 million.


2010 Foundation welcomes its third leader

Ellen-Gilligan-2013-sm.jpgEllen M. Gilligan becomes Foundation’s president and CEO in September. The Cincinnati native comes to Milwaukee with nearly 30 years of nonprofit sector experience at such places including the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, United Way of America, Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

2011 Preparing the pipeline for future workforce

Mayor Tom Barrett creates Mayor’s Earn and Learn Fund on March 14 to receive financial support from individuals, foundations and corporates to support his Earn and Learn summer youth employment program, which is run by the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board.

2011 New fund aims to make big impact on area natural resource

In May, the Fund for Lake Michigan, which was created the previous year as a result of a settlement concerning the Oak Creek Power Plant and Elm Road Generating Station in southeastern Wisconsin, awards its first grant. The fund is dedicated to improving the health of Lake Michigan and its shoreline and tributary river systems. The $17,597 grant supports the planting of 25,000 trees covering 33 acres along the Menomonee and Milwaukee rivers.

2011 Recognizing area nonprofit leaders

Connie-Palmer-Jones-sm.jpgThe inaugural Doug Jansson Emerging Leadership Award is awarded on June 23 to Connie Palmer-Jones for her leadership as executive director of My Home, Your Home. The award, created upon Jansson’s retirement as president of the Milwaukee Foundation for 17 years, recognizes local nonprofit leaders, particularly those serving underserved communities. 

2011 Foundation launches citywide educational partnership

mkes-logo.gifThe Greater Milwaukee Foundation, in partnership with the Greater Milwaukee Committee, MMAC, Milwaukee Urban League, United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Helen Bader Foundation, launches Milwaukee Succeeds in July. The cradle-to-career education partnership focuses on ensuring success for all children in all schools throughout Milwaukee.

2012 Building support for basic needs

MatchDayLogo.jpgGreater Milwaukee Foundation launches Match Day, an online giving event to support food and shelter agencies in southeastern Wisconsin. On March 8, in less than 24 hours, $1.8 million is raised for 19 basic needs agencies. The first gift was made two minutes after the event started at 5 a.m.

2012 New program builds capacity, spurs revitalization in two Milwaukee neighborhoods

The Foundation is one of several local funding partners that collaborate on bringing the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program, a federally-funded program, to Milwaukee. The Milwaukee program represents a cross-sector partnership between philanthropic, business, government and community leaders that works to strengthen resident capacity to lead and improve the Amani and Metcalfe neighborhoods. Milwaukee is one of four cities chosen for the program.

2013 Making fun summer memories

Summer-Grants-for-Kids-sm.jpgSummer Grants for Kids program begins. The mini grant program supports summer programs and activities in the four county area that provide new experiences and opportunities for area youth. In its inaugural year, 17 nonprofits received grants of $1,000 each.

2013 Measuring what matters

MKES-Milestone-Report-2013.pngMilwaukee Succeeds, the citywide educational partnership launched by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation in 2011, publishes its inaugural Milestone Report. The annual report is the primary way the partnership tracks how students are performing across all educational sectors – public, private and charter – according to 11 different measures toward four different goals.

2013 Measuring Milwaukee area’s strengths and challenges

vital-signs.jpgIn June, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation publishes the results of its inaugural “Vital Signs: Benchmarking Metro Milwaukee” report. The report, supported in part by the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, Faye McBeath Foundation and Greater Milwaukee Committee, provides an objective look at the metro area’s standing based on a multitude of indicators and provides comparison to 15 other regions.

2013 Record-setting year in grantmaking

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation celebrates its most successful grantmaking year with $38.9 million awarded to area nonprofits and its third-highest year for contributions with $37.8 million received from individual donors. Its assets reach $712 million and its family of funds grows to 1,194.


2013 Developing leadership capacity within area neighborhoods

NLI-Group-sm.jpgAt the beginning of the year, Cardinal Stritch University and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation launch the inaugural Neighborhood Leadership Institute. The 10-month program, which also involves support from the Zilber Family Foundation, Northwestern Mutual Foundation, LISC Milwaukee and United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee, is designed to increase the leadership capacity in Milwaukee neighborhoods by helping neighborhood residents as well as employees of nonprofits that serve the neighborhoods. The inaugural class features 26 participants.

2014 Foundation ranks among the top 25 in its class

With $712 million in assets, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation ranks 25th among the nation’s 700 community foundations. The field collectively manages almost $50 billion in assets and includes more than 1,800 foundations worldwide.


2014 Planning for the future

strategic-plan-sm.jpgJust a year shy of its centennial year, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation unveils a new mission statement as well as a new five-year strategic plan that will guide its activities and position its work for the next century, particularly through strengthening relationships, community impact and organizational excellence.

2014 Prelude to centennial celebration

Annual-Meeting-2014-sm.jpgAs a prelude to its centennial celebration in 2015, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation makes a signature, $500,000 investment in scholarships for students participating in MATC’s integrated career pathways program. The grant, announced at the Foundation’s annual meeting in June, will cover the cost of tuition, books and supplies for potentially 350 to 400 students over a three year period.

2014 Foundation welcomes three new board members

Cecilia-Gore.jpgIPaul-Jones.jpgnGreg-Marcus.jpg July, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s board grows to 13 members with the addition of Cecelia Gore, executive director of the Brewers Community Foundation; Paul Jones, vice president, general counsel and secretary of Harley-Davidson, and Greg Marcus, president and CEO of the Marcus Corporation.

2014 Foundation receives largest gift in its history

On the eve of our 100th year, the Foundation received the largest charitable gift in its history when former U.S. Senator and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl chooses it as steward for $100 million gift. Kohl’s gift is promised toward the development of a new arena in downtown Milwaukee for the NBA team.

2014 New donor series connects donors with civic leaders and regional assets

The Foundation launches “Greater Milwaukee Foundation Presents…” a series of exclusive events that seeks to educate and enrich the lives of our donors by providing behind-the-scene access to the region’s top cultural, educational and business institutions. The inaugural event in May introduced donors to the Milwaukee Ballet and its proposed Harmony Initiative.

2014 Foundation provides $500K lift to Milwaukee area neighborhoods

In equal partnership with Wells Fargo, the Foundation committed $500,000 toward a $1 million pool of resources that will be used to support employment and housing efforts toward strengthening Milwaukee neighborhoods.

2014 New neighborhood grants program starts small, thinks big

Three of the largest Milwaukee-area foundations – Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Northwestern Mutual and Zilber Family Foundation – join forces on a new pilot program that put grantmaking in the hands of Milwaukee-area residents. Called Community Connections Small Grants Program, it provides funding of up to $500 in support of resident-led neighborhood projects, events and activities.

2014 From problem areas to pristine parks

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation joins forces with the city of Milwaukee, Northwestern Mutual Foundation, Fund for Lake Michigan and Zilber Family Foundation to transform 20 vacant lots in Milwaukee into vibrant green spaces. Milwaukee was one of 10 communities nationwide selected to receive a Bloomberg Award for Partners for Places from the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities. With support from that $75,000 award, the collaborative partnership plans to convert the lots into 15 fruit orchards and six pocket parks across Milwaukee’s north side neighborhoods.

2014 Foundation receives largest gift in its history

On the eve of our 100th year, the Foundation received the largest charitable gift in its history when former U.S. Senator and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl chooses it as steward for $100 million gift. Kohl’s gift is promised toward the development of a new arena in downtown Milwaukee for the NBA team.

2014 New donor series connects donors with civic leaders and regional assets

The Foundation launches “Greater Milwaukee Foundation Presents…” a series of exclusive events that seeks to educate and enrich the lives of our donors by providing behind-the-scene access to the region’s top cultural, educational and business institutions. The inaugural event in May introduced donors to the Milwaukee Ballet and its proposed Harmony Initiative.  

2015 Special grant cycle infuses public art into Healthy Neighborhoods

For the first time since it first started making grants in 2001, the Mary L. Nohl Fund dedicated a special grantmaking cycle to support creation of public art within the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s participating Healthy Neighborhoods. More than $82,000 was invested in a variety of projects spanning five Milwaukee neighborhoods – Capitol Heights, Havenwoods, Harambee, Kinnickinnic River and Sherman Park. The projects were designed to engage community residents and area artists in order to enhance vacant or underused spaces in our community.

2015 $5 million committed to Milwaukee Succeeds

In August, five prominent area funders announced the creation of a funding collaborative – and a combined $5 million commitment – toward Milwaukee Succeeds. The Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Bader Philanthropies, Herb Kohl Charities, Northwestern Mutual Foundation and United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County made the multi-year commitment, which will fund pilot programs and support systemic interventions that can take evidence-based practices and proven strategies to scale.