Opportunity, prosperity & a high quality of life for all

A generational commitment to equity and inclusion

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation was founded on the premise that generosity can unlock an individual’s potential and strengthen the community for everyone who lives here. Our vision for a vibrant region is rooted in the idea that our community is greater when all people have the opportunity for economic, social and civic participation.

While in large part, greater Milwaukee is experiencing a resurgence in economic growth and prosperity, many are unable to share in its benefits or have a voice in important decisions that impact their lives. Our community, like others across the nation, is facing pronounced disparities, the result of uneven access to opportunity. 

Achieving our vision for greater Milwaukee,

“a vibrant, economically thriving region comprised of welcoming and inclusive communities that provide opportunity, prosperity and a high quality of life for all,”

requires specific focus on identifying and eliminating barriers to opportunity so all people can reach their full potential.

Adding urgency and emphasis to the Foundation’s commitment to address opportunity gaps in our community is the understanding that people of color are disproportionately affected by these disparities. We acknowledge that racism – both individualized and structural – exists in our region, causing too many people to be left out and left behind.

Eliminating the root causes of inequities, therefore, is both morally just and economically essential for achieving broader regional prosperity and vitality. An intentional focus on equity and inclusion ensures that strategies designed to improve the educational, social and economic well-being of people in our region make a true, measureable difference among communities most marginalized because of race.

We know what equity looks like. It looks like equal access to good jobs and financial stability. It looks like safe neighborhoods with affordable housing. It looks like high-performing schools and access to further education or training. It means a voice in the conversation and a high quality of life for everyone.

For more than 100 years, the Foundation has helped generous people support their passions and enhance the community. Built into the Foundation’s mission of inspiring philanthropy is a mandate to address the most pressing needs of our region as they have changed over time. Our community is calling on us now to convene people, ideas and investment to accelerate our progress toward an equitable region.

We embrace our continuing role with understanding that this is not the work of any one organization. Sustaining success will require broad ownership of the issues and their solutions in the community. It necessitates engagement and listening to diverse perspectives. It demands everyone have the opportunity to participate fully in decision-making and development of communitywide goals.

In this journey, we stand with many partners who share our vision for a thriving region and are working together to ensure the promise of a bright future applies to communities of color and all communities.

Our framework for racial equity and inclusion features targeted strategies within the interconnected and mutually reinforcing ideas of Connected People and Thriving Communities. Fundamental to this commitment is employing culturally responsive practice by inviting people to be at the center of decisions that affect them and ensuring their ability to participate in designing, building and implementing specific strategies to address the conditions or systems they seek to change.

The Foundation is working to support and strengthen community assets while increasing our focus and financial investment in cradle-to-career education, neighborhood cohesion and increasing economic opportunity, especially where generational disinvestment has created racial disparities and inequity