Making a better life for those with special needs


Everyone looks for opportunities. In 2006, Cindy and Roger Schaus were presented with one that made it possible to create an advised fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, and they took it. The Schaus Family Fund has allowed the couple to pursue their shared goal of creating opportunities for people who are especially in need of them – individuals with disabilities.

A special education teacher for the past 30 years, Cindy also has siblings and other relatives with special needs. She knows how effective educational programs, daytime hours filled with meaningful work, or an evening of dancing can improve life for someone with a disability.

"When everybody is soliciting you for money, it’s difficult to do all of the necessary research on your own."

"We see many worthy organizations supporting individuals with disabilities in need of funding," she said.

The couple’s oldest daughter, Kate, also a special education teacher, helps her parents to advise grants from the fund. Her insight is helping them develop a scholarship for education majors who plan to teach children with disabilities. They created a scholarship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the alma mater of all three.

Cindy and Roger had considered creating a private foundation until her brother, an attorney, suggested the Foundation. They’re happy with their decision, and seven years of grantmaking has convinced them of the value of the Foundation’s services.

"When everybody is soliciting you for money, it’s difficult to do all of the necessary research on your own," she said. Cindy said the family is comfortable that the Foundation researches the organizations they choose to support and feels secure in its investments.

Cindy laughs and admits she has always been careful about spending her own money. To be able to support the causes she cares about at this higher level is a rewarding experience.

"It’s not money that’s in my hands," she said she likes to remind herself. "I’m just guiding where it goes."

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