Finalists announced for 14th annual MANDIs

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Charlotte Brown-Gomez, executive director of Layton Boulevard West Neighbors, is a finalist for the Northern Trust Navigator Award MANDI award, along with Welford Sanders and James Godsil. She is shown with Ivan Gamboa, vice president of Tri-City National Bank. (Photo by Edgar Mendez)

A schoolyard transformed into a lush green space, an organization that provides access to high quality health care, and a rent-to-own loft development with a farmers market are among the 16 finalists for the Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation (MANDI).

The MANDIs recognize individuals, organizations, and corporations who are strengthening Milwaukee’s central city neighborhoods. Finalists were announced at O’Brien’s Irish Pub, 4928 W. Vliet St.

“You will not find more entrepreneurial people than the people who are leading the efforts to rebuild our central city neighborhoods,” said Leo Ries, executive director of LISC Milwaukee. “The Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation provide an opportunity for us to celebrate and learn from our city’s greatest talent.” The awards are sponsored by U.S. Bank, in partnership with LISC.

Three finalists in each of five categories were selected by an independent volunteer committee of 28 people. Winners will be announced at a dinner on Thursday, March 14, at the Pfister Hotel, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave.

Categories and finalists are:

Brewers Community Foundation Public Space Award honors the use of public space that contributes to the overall well being of the community.

  • Brown Street Academy—asphalt schoolyard transformed into a lush green space.
  • Washington Park—historic park restored as a city treasure.
  • Burnham and 29th Park—blighted lot blossoms with community power.

BMO Harris Cornerstone Award honors an organization or program with a long-standing commitment to a neighborhood and demonstrated effectiveness over time.

  • ACTS Housing—helping families own homes in Milwaukee’s inner city.
  • Progressive Community Health Services—providing access to high-quality health services.
  • La Causa—forty years of service to Milwaukee’s South Side.

Northern Trust Navigator Award honors an individual demonstrating leadership and collaboration for change.

  • Charlotte John-Gomez—deep commitment to the Layton Boulevard West neighborhoods.
  • James Godsil—Renaissance man, from roofing to urban agriculture.
  • Welford Sanders—building up Milwaukee, on MLK Drive and beyond.

PNC Bank Trail Blazer honors an innovative approach to a problem that is producing demonstrative results.

  • Financial Literacy Through Home-Ownership—breaking the cycle of poverty through education and homeownership.
  • Milwaukee Rising—tackling foreclosure from doorsteps to the steps of world banks.
  • Our Next Generation Outbound Learning Program—tapping talent for high-quality out-of-school education


State Farm Building Blocks Award honors a real estate project that contributes significantly to the enhancement of the community.

  • Clock Shadow Building—a bustling hub for health non-profits and local businesses.
  • Mitchell Street Market Lofts—spacious rent-to-own lofts with a farmers market.
  • National Avenue Lofts—affordable, contemporary housing in the heart of Walker’s Point.
  • Urban Ecology Center, Menomonee Valley—nature-inspired design shelters education and stewardship center.
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