Empowered and improving the community

cleaver.jpgFor her philanthropy, much like her artwork, Christin Cleaver takes inspiration from the world around her and experiments until she finds something that works.

"I’ve tried helping people by giving them money. That totally doesn’t work," said Christin, who believes in empowering people to help themselves.

Although she no longer lives in the greater Milwaukee area, Christin’s connections to our community run deep. Her grandfather, John Cleaver, founded two successful area manufacturing companies, the first in 1931. Christin spent many of her early years here and earned her business degree at Marquette University. When her grandmother, Harriet, passed away, she named Christin, with whom she was close, as successor advisor to a portion of the fund created when the assets of the private John C. Cleaver Foundation were moved to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation in 1991.

Today, Christin often returns to Milwaukee to visit the friends with whom she remains close. Through visitor’s eyes, she sees the beautiful, new high-end condos downtown and close by. But, because she keeps up with area news, talks with friends, and works with the Foundation’s Community Investment staff, she is equally aware of the challenges facing greater Milwaukee, which she describes as “a city in need of healing."

With grantmaking that can "bring a little more happiness and harmony into people’s lives and help them help themselves," Christin supports a variety of area organizations. Some, like Neighborhood House, were among her grandmother’s favorites. Others, like Pets Helping People, Inc., just touch a cord in someone determined to change things for the better.

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