Greater Milwaukee Foundation goes public with $700 million philanthropy campaign

President and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Ellen Gilligan

the Greater Milwaukee Foundation went public on Friday with a multi-year, $700 million philanthropy campaign, for which it has already raised $500 million.

In what leaders say is one of the foundation’s most ambitious endeavors to date, the overall campaign runs from 2017 to 2023. Its public period will now focus on engaging more people. donors around his campaign goal to address systemic racial disparities in housing, health, education and economic opportunity.

“We think now is exactly the right time (to go public), not only because we’ve demonstrated that people really want to support our vision and it’s an important strategic vision for the wider community, but also ( it’s a) opportunity to invite a much wider cross-section of the community to join us,” said Ellen Gilligan, President and CEO of GMF.

GMF plans to dedicate $50 million in campaign funds to five priority areas: $11 million for ThriveOn Collaboration, his efforts with the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Royal Capital Group to redevelop the former Gimbel & Schuster building in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville district into a center that will focus on the social determinants of health; $6 million for early childhood care and education; $2 million to increase access to affordable housing; $10 million for its impact investing model; and $21 for flexible funding to meet pressing community needs.

Left unaddressed, each of these areas will continue to be a barrier to prosperity in the region, especially among black and brown communities, GMF leaders said.

“They represent critical community issues based on research, the community’s vision, the vision of our Board and leaders, and the tools needed to drive impact,” said Fiesha Lynn Bell, associate director of major gifts for the foundation.

The GMF’s campaign goals reflect its evolving role as a community foundation, evolving from a grants manager and fundraiser to its more recent version of convener and community leader. Her 2016 commitment to racial equity and inclusion sparked a shift within the organization that influenced its program areas, grantmaking, and advocacy work.

The full campaign will support the GMF’s efforts to put its racial equity commitments into practice on a larger scale, the leaders said.

“The campaign is an opportunity to … invite more people from the community to join us in advancing and realizing our vision of ‘One Milwaukee for All,’” Gilligan said.

One of his most visible projects, GMF’s ThriveOn collaboration, is progressing, Gilligan said. Construction is expected to begin soon on the $100 million redevelopment of the building at 2153 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Gilligan said leaders have spent the past year talking to community members to help inform plans for the space.

When completed, the building will house GMF’s new headquarters, a hub for MCW’s community engagement programs, an early learning center and affordable housing.

In addition to its own early years center at ThriveOn, the foundation plans to invest in other centers across the city, as well as recruiting and retaining the early childhood education workforce. early childhood.

“As we review our philanthropic goal of $6 million for this priority, this is a generational investment. We believe this will stabilize the sector,” said Lynn Bell.

GMF also supports efforts to increase access to affordable housing throughout the community. He is a founding member of the Community Development Alliance, a collaboration of donors and associations dedicated to this same objective.

GMF said it plans to align and streamline more than 20 existing housing programs, increase affordability for renters, increase homeownership for black and brown families, and prevent moving to developing neighborhoods.

Most of the campaign’s priority areas, GMF plans to dedicate $21 million in flexible funds, which it can use to meet immediate community needs as they arise.

“(These funds) will help us better prepare for future COVID-19,” said Lynn Bell.

The foundation is also looking to bolster its impact investing program, which directs investments to projects that address social needs, create jobs and create wealth. For example, GMF used this financing facility to provide the Sherman Phoenix with its first mortgage financing to renovate the former BMO Harris Bank branch into what would become a North Side Entrepreneurial Hub.

Donors can contribute to the campaign by starting or expanding a fund, investing specifically in their campaign priority areas, or making a planned gift.

While many civic and nonprofit groups have major fundraising campaigns underway to solicit philanthropic dollars, Gilligan said she’s confident the foundation will be “tremendously” successful in reaching the finish line. of his campaign objective.

“The vision that we came up with, people are extremely excited about it, and it resonates with a broad cross-section of the community,” Gilligan said. “… These are not the priorities of the foundation, these are the priorities of the community.

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