In 2018 the Greater Milwaukee Foundation led a 9-month community engagement process in Sherman Park East to understand residents’ needs and concerns. At the completion of that process, an advisory council made of Sherman Park residents and community leaders determined that the Foundation should invest $150,000 into youth engagement in Sherman Park East. 


With a median age of 29 years old, Sherman Park is a young community. There are more than 1,600 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 living in Sherman Park East. But according to residents interviewed, existing nonprofits do not offer programming to adequately address their needs. 

Young people in Sherman Park face a number of challenges as they transition into adulthood: 

  • A 64% high school graduation rates that is the lowest in the state and second lowest in the nation.
  • Incarceration rates that are the highest in the country with one out of eight black men in Milwaukee entering a prison or jail.

There are a number of programs in the area serving young people at that critical time of early adolescence when they are transitioning into high school; unfortunately, fewer programs have successfully engaged older adolescents (16-24) as they prepare to graduate high school and enter the workforce, according to residents.

Youth ages 16 to 24 are chronically underemployed and lack access to opportunities to develop professional skills that will prepare them to succeed in the workforce. The longer these youth are out of the workforce, the more likely they are to interact with police and enter the criminal justice system. Community stakeholders interviewed and those that participated in the visioning sessions agreed that support for youth engagement activities is a priority with the Sherman Park East neighborhood.

Eligibility Criteria 

With this RFP, the Foundation seeks to reach groups and organizations that are based in Sherman Park East and demonstrate a track record of hiring and engaging Sherman Park East community members. Priority will be given to initiatives that place the voices of people who are traditionally left out of community decision-making at the center of the planning, implementation and results of the proposed project. 

Successful proposals may include the following:

  • Program facilitated by experienced youth workers who are passionate about supporting Sherman Park youth and have a history of living/work in Sherman Park East
  • Design and facilitate age-appropriate programming for youth in the following age groups:
    • Youth -10-15
    • Young People-16-18
    • Young Adults -19-24
  • A sustainable program model creating measurable change:
    • Behavioral change in youth participants
    • Program must lead to employment and/or increase employability
  • Recommend experience in in trauma-informed practice or commit to joining a grantee cohort at a training on trauma informed practice in youth programming that will be provided by the Foundation 
  • Outline an outreach plan that includes strategies for recruitment and retention of youth.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to provide programming that is responsive to the interest and culture of youth in Sherman Park East
  • Implement a needs assessment of youth entering your program 
  • Expose young people to professions where people of color are underrepresented
  • Partnerships working together that leverage existing resources to improve outcomes for youth

Grant amounts may range from $15,000 to $25,000.

Organizations must be considered charitable organizations as determined by the IRS internal revenue code 501(c)(3).  Please note: Organizations that do not have this designation may use a fiscal sponsor (organization recognized as a 501(c)(3) charitable entity) to serve as the recipient and manager of the grant.  Eligible nonprofits are required to have board membership that is at least 10 percent people of color.  The term “people of color” refers to all persons who are not categorized as white by the U.S. Census.  

Proposal Requirements

In an effort to make this application accessible to smaller grassroots and resident-led initiatives, proposals may take two forms: A written proposal or a video submission.

1. Written proposal (no more than 6 pages in length - 5 pages of narrative and 1-page budget). Proposals should address the following:

  • Describe the social change that is the goal of the proposal, what will be done and how change will be measured
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the issues the proposal seeks to address
  • Provide a summary of experience working with the community or system that is the focus of the proposal
  • Describe the role of partners
  • Include a budget that supports the activities of the project
  • Include a copy of your organization’s or fiscal sponsor’s IRS determination letter

2. Video submission (no longer than 3 to 5 minutes). Videos should explain the following:

  • Project Description: Tell us about the age group and specific needs of the youth that your organization plans to engage. Describe the programming you will offer. 
  • Community & Leadership: Who is on your team? What is their relationship to Sherman Park East? 
  • Impact: How will you evaluate the effectiveness of your programming? 
  • Financial Need: How much do you need for your project? What will the funds be used for? 
  • Background: Discuss how you approach this work and how you developed the project concept.
  • Please add any additional information that you think is relevant.

Proposals are due June 28, 2019

This grant opportunity is currently closed for 2019.


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russell1-web.jpgContact Senior Program Officer Darlene C. Russell to learn more about our community development work.