Bader Philanthropies, Inc., one of southeastern Wisconsin’s top five foundations, announced its board of directors approved a $100,000 grant to The Alma Center, Inc., a research-based agency that provides trauma-informed healing, education, social services and a positive peer community to support abusive men’s peaceful and lasting transformation. The grant will ensure continued funding for the position of Director of Administration within the organization, a position previously supported by Bader Philanthropies’ charitable efforts. In addition to the grant to The Alma Center, the board allocated more than $13 million in grants in support of various projects in Wisconsin, the United States, and internationally in programs such as Alzheimer’s and Aging, Community Partnerships for Youth, Arts, Milwaukee Education, Social Equality and Workforce Development.
Unlike most domestic violence-related programs, The Alma Center focuses primarily on the men committing the violence. The Alma Center’s pioneering approach of Healing-Focused-Care (HFC), uses multi-disciplinary research from neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and ancient indigenous wisdom and methodologies. They support men in transforming their dysfunctional, abusive or violent behavior by healing their own trauma. This HFC approach has been successful with an almost 90 percent reduction in the recidivism rate for men who complete the center’s “Men Ending Violence” program. To date, the Alma Center has helped more than 5,000 men in Milwaukee.
The men they work with are the boys who have grown up experiencing and witnessing serious adversity, such as emotional, physical and sexual abuse, substance addicted parents, absent fathers and community violence. More than half of them have not lived with or had a relationship with their father, yet nearly 90 percent of the men who come to the center are fathers.
“Traditionally, programs that work with men who have a history of violence or abuse take a very punitive approach, focused on consequences and punishment,” said Terri Strodthoff, PhD, founder and executive director of The Alma Center. “Research on the impact of childhood trauma has taught us that children who grow up in environments with such extreme toxic stress learn to adapt their behavior to survive the adversity. Later difficulties in interpersonal relationships often have their roots in earlier trauma, and for men and boys the dysfunction is typically expressed through control, rage and violence. Research further tells us that regardless of how trauma debility expresses, even if it’s through violence, resolving the debility requires a process of emotional, psychological and physical healing. Our programs incorporate this research.”
The Alma Center has a history of being recognized nationally and locally for its pioneering HFC approach. Going back as far as 2012, The Alma Center was selected by Futures Without Violence (a leading national domestic violence prevention agency) as one of the top ten most promising and innovative battering intervention programs in the country. More recently in 2016, The Alma Center was selected as a national advisor to the Violence Against Women Office for developing guidelines to promote enhancement and innovation in battering intervention programs.
In 2015, Bader Philanthropies’ funding directly supported the creation of a new administrative position to enhance the agency’s capacity to continue to grow the intensity and the breadth of services, and build productive community partnerships.
The Alma Center is expanding its work to reach more men and families with a history of adversity who are involved in the criminal justice system. In order to effectively serve this population, The Alma Center anticipates hiring more direct service team members, potentially more than doubling the current size of The Alma Center.
“Our pending growth underscores the need for us to have sufficient administrative capacity so we may effectively recruit, onboard, train and manage staff, as well as operate our programs with fidelity to our core principles,” said Strodthoff. “This grant will help us step into our future and meet our next strategic goals for the community, as well as to support us in expanding national leadership toward more effective transformative work with men who have a history of violence.”
“Bader Philanthropies supports organizations in many ways,” said Daniel J. Bader, president and CEO of Bader Philanthropies. “Often, an organization like The Alma Center can vividly see how they want to transform lives, and is deliberate in building the critical infrastructure to expand its programs and services. This funding highlights innovation and supports thousands of men as they take the leap of faith to be the backbone of our city.”