The Greater Milwaukee Foundation celebrated 100 years of service in 2015 by providing the public with unique experiences each month that showcased the people, places and opportunities that make our community special. A total of 275,000 people enjoyed these centennial Gifts to the Community. Check out the highlights from each month below.

Gifts to the Community Year in Review

December gift - Milwaukee County Zoo

My kids and I enjoyed our winter trip! The ice sculpting and Christmas tree display was one our favorite specials alongside all the animals we usually don't see. Thank u providing us and many others who may not get to see the Zoo during the colder months! We definitely appreciate it and look forward to visiting again soon!
Liz T. and family

THANK YOU A BUNCH! FIRST FOR THE GIFT OF THE NEW SNOW LEOPARD AT THE ZOO AND FOR SPONSORING THE SIX FREE DAYS (INCLUDING PARKING!) IN DEC! I am a big fan of the zoo and visit very often. I am spreading the word to my friends who aren't members so they can take advantage of your kind offer! THANKS! – Kate K.

Thanks for this free week! Went most days and enjoyed! – Susan H.

With 3 kids, a visit to the zoo is always a 10 for us. Thanks! – Andrea M.

Definitely a 10! It’s a 45-minute drive for us to get to the zoo so such an event like this is a nice treat. – Crystal L.
Great time today at the zoo. Thanks for the free day. It brought back lots of memories from when my babies were babies!! – Kim. H.

Thank you so much for having this over Christmas break!!! My kids had a blast and I didn't go broke! And a big thanks to your outstanding staff! They were super friendly and helpful!! – Tracy L.

I took my family last Sunday. Not my first time. It's been about a year. But some of the kids I took it was there first time! All the animals were up and moving they really enjoyed it! So did I! Thanks! – Quay E.

Our first time in MANY years... our new little guy loved it!!!! Thank you soooo much!!! – Kristi K.

First visit and we had a GREAT TIME!!! Kids all loved the whole zoo, all the animals, and all the displays. Very nice and well kept up place. Thanks for the free admission....made it possible for our family of 6 to have a great day out. – Judy H.

November Gift - Holiday Folk Fair International

“Thank You Greater Milwaukee Foundation for making it easier for families to be with many people with different cultures all in one place! United we stand!” – Irene G.

“My best food memories started here.” – Brenda S. 

Enjoyed @HolidayFolkFair today at Wis State Fair Park. Many thanks to @GrMKEFdn generously providing admission as a gift to the community. – Darryl N. 

Thanks for getting us all to the @HolidayFolkFair @GrMKEFdn! – ACTS Housing

Thank you Milwaukee for providing our family with 32 years of memories. Already looking forward to next year.- Ana W.

Thanks for the good food!! Victor

Thank you for what you do! – German American Police Association

Thank you from the republic of Georgia for this great opportunity to learn all the cultures.

Grazie mille!  - Marilyn

October Gift - Discovery World

A total of 28,000 people made Oct. 3 and 4 a “Weekend on the Water,” taking advantage of the free admission at Discovery World. Among the most popular elements of the weekend for visitors was having the chance to learn about the science of the human body through the “Grossology” exhibit, getting up close with the fishes at the Reiman Aquarium and channeling individual creativity through a number of different DIY projects.

September Gift - Miller Park

Hats off to our partners, the Milwaukee Brewers and Brewers Community Foundation, for making our September Gift to the Community such a tremendous hit! Hundreds of individuals and families took advantage of the free behind-the-scenes tours and 4,620 free bags of popcorn were handed out as an extra sweet treat for visitors.

Thank you @grmkefdn and @millerpark for giving the community the opportunity to see and learn the inner workings of a #MKE landmark on a beautiful Sunday afternoon - Milwaukee Homeless Vets

I must write to tell you thank you for the wonderful day at Miller Park today. My granddaughter and I spent several wonderful hours there. Your staff and volunteers were helpful and friendly. What a great organization you have. Thank you so much and I speak for many many people!! - Lu K

Beautiful day to be at the ballpark. We really enjoyed the entire event, especially the Selig Experience. I hope this will become an annual event. Thanks for organizing the tour. – Jan R.

Our favorite part was being able to walk out on the field and in the dugout!! My kids had so much fun. Thank you :) – Carrie K.

Our favorite part was watching my girls get super excited in the press box. They got to see where my husband sat when he was a stringer for the AP. They thought that was the absolute coolest. – Jennifer M.

Check out more behind-the-scene shots from that weekend from one Milwaukee photographer and blogger.

August Gift - Nature and ecology centers

For our August Gift to the Community the forecast called for sunshine, temperatures in the upper 70s and 100 percent chance of fun, thanks to four area nature and ecology centers. Besides the beauty at each one of their locations, the partnering organizations also had a variety of activities to entertain both young and old, including tree climbing, a specially designed obstacle course, guided nature hikes and science activities.

More than 2,300 people took advantage of the day’s activities. Here is a recap from community members about their adventures:

Mequon Nature Preserve
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
Riveredge Nature Center 
Urban Ecology Center

July Gift - Milwaukee County Zoo

Nearly 40 of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s team were on site at the Milwaukee County Zoo July 17 to celebrate the announcement of the acquisition of two new snow leopards to the zoo’s collection, as part of the Foundation’s monthly Gifts to the Community program. Foundation staff passed out more than 500 snow leopard stuffed animals to young visitors and their families to help spread the word about the animals, which should join the zoo within the next six to 12 months.

It turns out there are quite a number of snow leopard fans out there!

Thx @GrMKEFdn for the July gift to #MKE! This UW-trained zoologist is thrilled! #Milwaukee #veryverycool HOME GR/OWN MKE 

So exciting! Thanks @GrMKEFdn! – Zoological Society of Milwaukee 

So excited and happy about this!!! – Steve M.

Love this. Thank you to the donors! – Sharon H.

Thanks Greater Milwaukee Foundation! Nice to have 2 snows added to our Milwaukee County Zoo – Kay K.

Favorite animal ever! !! Great news! – Lisa C.

Yay!! Love snow leopards!! – Alicia M.

June Gift - MSO concerts

An estimated 1,500 people enjoyed the two special outdoor Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra performances in early July. Led by guest conductor Brett Mitchell, associate conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra, the performances included music from Gershwin, Copland and Wagner as well as a special medley of tunes from the different branches of the armed forces.

May Gift - Cedarburg Art Museum,  MOWA, and Ten Chimneys

  • 842 people visited the Ten Chimneys estate, leading to sold-out tours for both Friday and Saturday. Many guests were first-time visitors
  • Cedarburg Art Museum organized special activities for older adults and families over the course of the weekend and welcomed a total of 250 visitors, which far exceeded its normal traffic over the course of a two-day period
  • 2,000 people visited the Museum of Wisconsin Art and enjoyed such activities as self-guided gallery tours, a DIY garden art project and scavenger hunt. Each visitor received a complimentary one-year membership

April Gift - Free transit

The day of free public transit was a pleasant surprise to many Milwaukee-area residents. Below are just a few examples of their reactions from that day.

  • Thanks to the GMF. I am a regular rider on MCTS but today was especially great to see how your gift goes to common folk riding the bus (students, physically impaired, workers with lunch boxes...).  It was really a great bus ride to watch and see the look of surprise on many riders when the driver said the ride was free.  I can only imagine how much the bus drivers enjoyed their job today - some of Milwaukee's unsung heroes taking people to work, school, church or home.  Loved the idea! – Patricia
  • WOW! What a happy moment when I went to get on my normal route to work and was greeted by a smiling bus driver saying, today, it’s on Milwaukee. What a wonderful start to my morning commute! – Lindsay
  • Thanks to the @GrMKEFdn #MKE Emergency Lodge residents can get to doctor appointments and job interviews free today! How awesome is that?! – Salvation Army of Wisconsin
  • Big thanks to @GrMKEFdn for an entire day of free public transportation! Always great to see all community members involved in this city. – Julia  
  • Thanks @GrMKEFdn for the free ride to work this morning on @RideMCTS and for all the awesome you bring to Milwaukee! – Jason
  • Yesterday was a really awesome day for me to have to make four trips on @RideMCTS. Thanks for the free rides, @GrMKEFdn! – Katie
  • Thanks for the free bus ride this morning! Great start to my day! – Laura
  • @RideMCTS @GrMKEFdn Thanks for the free ride! Taking the green line today and it’s awesome as usual – Zack
  • Thank you @GrMKEFdn for free @RideMCTS rides today. We went to the park – Brendan

March Gift - The Domes

  • 10,851 guests came on Saturday and 16,337 princesses, fairies, pirates, wizards, knights and other guests visited on Sunday
  • Visitors were able to visit with Prince Charming, Elsa, Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother throughout the day on Sunday
  • Hundreds waited in line for a chance to meet and snap a picture with Ariel

February Gift - Milwaukee Art Museum

More than 7,700 turned out to the Milwaukee Art Museum on Feb. 21 and 22 to enjoy a free admission weekend, experience the beauty of the Quadracci Pavilion itself as well as of the 50 years of the famed Ebony Fashion Fair, which was the feature exhibit.

  • Visitors represented 24 states
  • More than 7,000 visitors came from Wisconsin
  • A little more than 300 were from our Midwestern neighbors (Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan and Iowa)
  • Nearly 72 percent of visitors (5,579) were from Milwaukee County

January Gift - Milwaukee Public Museum

  • Before the doors to the Milwaukee Public Museum even opened at 9 a.m. on Saturday, there was a line outside of the door at least 10 to 15 deep
  • Visitors came from as close as the city of Milwaukee to as far away as Minneapolis
  • Over the course of the weekend, 26,737 visitors came through the museum’s doors, which represented 6 percent of the museum’s typical annual visitation
  • On Saturday, a total of 12,675 people attended; on Sunday, 14,062 visitors came
  • In total, 11,534 children experienced the museum during 16 hours
  • The busiest times occurred between 12 and 1 on Saturday and between 1 and 2 on Sunday
  • More than 4,100 people attended the museum’s special planetarium show, “Cosmic Colors”