Impact100 Greater Milwaukee, a new women’s nonprofit based on a collective philanthropy model replicated nationwide, last night awarded $100,000 grants to Literacy Services of Wisconsin, and Neu-Life Community Development Center, both located in Milwaukee. Impact100 Greater Milwaukee’s members voted on the winners after hearing from each of the five nonprofit finalists during the organization’s inaugural Annual Awards Celebration last night at Boerner Botanical Gardens.
“We are so proud to be creating meaningful change in the Greater Milwaukee area by supporting these two deserving nonprofits with a truly transformational gift,” said Cynthia Harris, Impact100 Greater Milwaukee co-founder.
“Each of our 218 members made a $1,000 gift and cast their vote for whom they felt to be the most deserving nonprofit. Together, we are truly women giving as one,” added Anne Trunzo, co-founder.
Literacy Services of Wisconsin Grant
Literacy Services of Wisconsin provides literacy education to adults through the dedication of volunteers, the support of the community, and the use of specialized curricula to meet individual and community needs. Its mission is to educate, motivate and inspire engaged adults to achieve greater independence and transform their lives. Their target population is disadvantaged adults, ages 18 to 40, including minorities, first-generation Americans and refugees. These adult learners are unemployed, lack high school diplomas, struggle with language barriers and often face homelessness. In Milwaukee, almost 20 percent of the population age 25 and over has not completed high school. After a substantial overhaul of the high-school equivalency GED test in 2014, Wisconsin experienced a 92 percent drop in adults obtaining a GED credential.
Literacy Services of Wisconsin’s $100,000 grant will be used to develop a new high school equivalency program in partnership with WRTP/BIG STEP, to position successful students for high demand manufacturing and construction jobs, and address the shortage of skilled labor in these areas and help break the cycle of poverty. WRTP/BIG STEP links over 200 manufacturing, construction and emerging sector employers looking for qualified workers with economically disadvantaged individuals in the four-county region. This new model will be only the third high school equivalency program of its kind in the United States.
Neu-Life Community Development Center Grant
Neu-Life Community Development Center serves Milwaukee’s 53205 and 53206 ZIP codes in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood, which have a poverty rate of 47 percent and some of the city’s greatest health disparities. Neu-Life seeks to empower children and youth with skills to make better life choices. It has three locations that offer over 200 youth ages 3 to 21 a safe place to engage in after-school, summer and youth development programs focused on service learning, community action projects and teen work programs. Statistics show that Neu-Life delivers: 90 percent of participating middle and high school students report a decrease in the use of alcohol and 89 percent report a decrease in illegal drug use. In addition, there has not been a reported teen pregnancy among students at Neu-Life in the last 6.5 years.
Neu-Life Community Development Center’s $100,000 grant will be used to convert the community center’s outdated kitchen facilities into a commercial kitchen for its Farmfork Youth Cooking Program and purchase a van to allow the organization to serve more youth and broaden the program’s scope. Farmfork Youth Cooking Program aims to make healthy food more accessible to youth and families in Lindsay Heights, which is considered a food desert. For six years, the program has taught children about growing produce, shopping for healthy alternatives and cooking nutritious meals for their families, in addition to starting three community gardens. A new commercial kitchen will allow Farmfork to serve meals to an additional 200 young people and start a “pop-up” restaurant in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood. Part of the grant will be utilized to purchase a new van that will help students get out into the community, as well as increase and strengthen Neu-Life’s community collaboration with MATC Culinary School, Fondy Food Market and area chefs.
Three runner-up nonprofits each received $6,000 merit grants:
- Adaptive Community Approach Program: serves the needs of disabled adults in Waukesha County by encouraging them to acquire life-long skills that enable them to become contributing members of their communities.
- Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukee: provides free, critical home repairs to veterans, seniors and people with disabilities, revitalizing and stabilizing vulnerable neighborhoods in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.
- Zachariah’s Acres: provides special needs children and their families with access to environmental opportunities, preserving and protecting the land while opening the world of agriculture and nature-based learning to kids with disabilities.
Grant Review Process
The multi-step Grant Review Process began in January, with more than 90 members reviewing 94 applications in five focus areas: Arts and Culture; Education; Environment; Family; and Health and Wellness. Ultimately, 13 organizations were then chosen for a site visit, after which five finalists were selected, which members voted on at the Annual Awards Celebration. Nonprofit organizations from Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties were invited to apply.
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