Philanthropic coalition coordinating resources to community for COVID-19 response

The enduring work ethic and spirit of determination that so often define the greater Milwaukee community are once again rising to meet the extraordinary challenges the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting for all people in all places.

To help alleviate the profound impact the coronavirus outbreak is having on Milwaukee and beyond, a group of philanthropic partners have formed a coordinated approach to identifying greatest needs and quickly activating funding support and volunteer resources for maximum community impact.

The people and nonprofits who serve local communities are facing mounting obstacles and disruptions to their missions, just as the people who rely on those services need them most. Sustaining their essential work amid economic strain, physical distancing and increasing demand requires innovative solutions that mobilize resources and support the most effective strategies for today’s unprecedented challenges.

Driven by this necessity, the philanthropic partners have come together to align resources that complement the ongoing work of experts in public health and government while increasing the capacity of local agencies and programs on the front lines of the pandemic to do the greatest good. Building on the investment each of the partners already is making in addressing urgent issues, the collaboration is jointly leveraging resources to provide needed service to individuals, families and organizations in a coordinated and strategic manner while also planning for the long-term recovery of the community.

To-date, the partners have raised more than $1.6 million toward the response effort.

“The generosity in our greater Milwaukee community continues to be a bright spot in challenging times,” said Kristen Mekemson, vice president of development and philanthropic services for the Foundation. “We are grateful for the Foundation donors who have joined other individuals, corporations and foundations in contributing to the MKE Responds Fund, and we welcome new donations of any size to further our collaborative approach to relief and recovery.”

The partnership further is developing a method for community engagement to keep apprised of emerging needs and inform resource deployment. Among the needs already surfacing as most critical are access to food, housing and shelter, and medical needs. 

Committed partners

  • Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment
  • Bader Philanthropies 
  • Brewers Community Foundation
  • Burke Foundation
  • City of Milwaukee Mayor’s Office
  • City of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention
  • Enerpac Tool Group 
  • Greater Milwaukee Committee
  • Greater Milwaukee Foundation and its donors
  • Herb Kohl Philanthropies
  • Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Milwaukee Succeeds
  • Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Northwestern Mutual Foundation 
  • Public Welfare Foundation
  • Wells Fargo
  • Weyco Group
  • United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County
  • Zilber Family Foundation

There is a place for everyone in this partnership, with opportunities to receive help, get involved or donate to the response efforts:

Want to donate?

Want to volunteer?

Explore options through United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Seeking funding?

Qualified nonprofits can review criteria and apply for MKE Responds funding from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation

Need help?

Call 2-1-1 or access online resources

No one is alone in this effort. Together, the greater Milwaukee community can persevere through today’s anxiety and hardship to emerge thriving as a region and a people.

Leaders commit to community collaboration

Mayor Tom Barrett

Ellen Gilligan,
President, and CEO, Greater Milwaukee Foundation

Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld
Director, Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment; senior associate dean, Medical College of Wisconsin

Cecelia Gore
Executive director, Brewers Community Foundation

Amy Lindner
President & CEO of United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County