Meg and Ricardo Diaz: Devoted to expanding children’s access to education and opportunity

As parents — and now grandparents — Meg and Ricardo Diaz know firsthand how formative a child’s early years are.  

“It starts with those first few years and getting the right education,” said Ricardo Diaz. “It’s like building a house and creating a solid foundation.”  

Improving access to high-quality education and opportunities for Milwaukee’s youth has been a focal point of the Diazes’ careers. Meg was executive director of the Milwaukee Public Library Foundation and worked at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Ricardo, as the longtime executive of the United Community Center, led a successful campaign to build a new early learning academy that today serves more than 300 children.  

While the couple is now retired, their dedication to building a Milwaukee for all remains. They chose to establish a family fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation through which they support causes and organizations related to education and Latinx youth, among other areas of interest.  

The Diazes specifically wanted to partner with a community foundation for its enduring impact in the community, and, as nonprofit leaders, they had personal knowledge of the Foundation’s capacity as a trusted philanthropic partner.  

“We’ve both worked on the other side, so we know that everything is in good hands,” Meg said. “We know that there are solid conversations about where resources are going. And we know that there is trust for the Foundation in the greater community.”  

The couple is well-versed in advocating for the causes and organizations in which they believe. Beyond their words, however, they hope their actions will inspire a new generation of philanthropists to share their time, talent, treasure and ties.  

“To sit down with someone and ask them to invest was never hard,” Ricardo said. “But the action comes first, the words second. Whatever you say, I want to see what you do.” 

Following in the Diazes’ philanthropic footsteps is their daughter, now married with children of her own. The Diazes feel confident about entrusting their fund to her and her family someday because of the lessons they shared with her from an early age.  

“We would have discussions at the dinner table, but she would also volunteer at the UCC in the summers, and we would serve dinner at the Salvation Army Christmas feast,” Meg said.  

The Diazes have also sought to empower their daughter, and all whom they encounter, with the knowledge that they, too, can have a positive impact on the world. 

“Philanthropy takes so many different forms and levels for different people, it doesn’t have to be enormous. It just has to make somebody’s life better.” 

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