From family dining rooms to the Pfister Hotel, more than 5,000 people across the Milwaukee area engaged in a recent dialogue in hopes of building new relationships and ideas to strengthen our community.
Next Door – a leading provider of early childhood education in Milwaukee’s central city – joined in the discussion on Oct. 17 as part of the On the Table program from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. The goal was to bring people together from various backgrounds around a table, and talk about the challenges facing our community and the individual and collective ways we can take to create change.
Next Door served as a “Super Host” for On the Table and held two diverse gatherings – a breakfast at our 29th Street campus and a lunch at our Capitol Drive campus. Nearly 100 guests attended, including Milwaukee Alderman Russell Stamper and Alderman Cavalier Johnson. We also welcomed early childhood education experts from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University, plus Next Door donors, volunteers, staff members and parents.
Guests sat at tables of eight and introduced themselves by sharing their favorite childhood book. They then discussed the following questions:
- How can high quality early childhood education create long-term systemic change?
- As a community, how can we guarantee that low-income children have the same quality foundational experiences as their middle and higher-income peers?
- If you could have all the resources and people needed to accomplish something to improve our community, what would you do?
- How can we spread these conversations and begin taking action?
Each gathering wrapped up with guests writing a self-addressed note with an action goal to take over the next month. Next Door will mail the notes to participants in a month so they are reminded of their personal commitment. The agency has future plans to invite others to similar conversations at Next Door later this year.
It is Next Door’s hope that On the Table ignites a community movement driving compassion, understanding and activism long into the future.
About Next Door:
Next Door supports the intellectual, physical and emotional development of children by partnering with their families for success in school and the community. We serve more than 2,000 children, from birth to five years old, with three locations and 12 partnership sites in Milwaukee’s central city. Through home- and center-based programs, Next Door strives to create a long-term foundation for success by closing the achievement gap for children living in poverty. Our highly qualified team provides critical educational support during a child’s most important developmental years with a focus on academic achievement, building social-emotional skills, and helping children become better prepared for school. To learn more, visit www.nextdoormke.org.