The Funders' Collaborative Brings Opportunities to Milwaukee's Educational Initiatives

The support of funders is what brings our big dreams to life. As a partnership, we think big—we have to! Changing the education landscape to decrease disparities takes creative collaboration, and dreaming big. With the support of dedicated funders, our network partners are given the golden ticket to do just that. In 2015, five funders who share our passion and vision for this work, each committed to giving $1 million over a four-year period: Bader Philanthropies, Northwestern Mutual Foundation, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, Herbert Kohl Philanthropies and Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

This group of funders came together to financially support strategies that come out of Milwaukee Succeeds' networks. The first grant in 2015 was to scale Wisconsin Reading Corps, a champion of best practice for individual tutoring in early grade literacy. The following year, Goal 2: School Success was granted funds to support the expansion of Reading Foundations, the literacy model program that aims at improving rates of children’s reading proficiency by 3rd grade. This grant continues to fund early literacy programs and has been changing the lives of young children in the community. To date, Reading Foundations is now in 21 schools with plans of continuous expansion.

The Funders' Collaborative continued to support programs and initiatives that spanned across all of our goals. Goal 3: College and Career Readiness, as well as Goal 4: Social & Emotional Learning, were both impacted in 2016, when funding helped support the M-cubed (Milwaukee Public Schools, Milwaukee Area Technical College, UW-Milwaukee) math remediation project and the city-wide FAFSA Completion Campaign. The Center for Youth Engagement was granted funds to start planning, developing, and implementing Goal 4’s strategic plan. The plan is now in the implementation phase and continues to make marks toward awareness and education of Social & Emotional Learning.

Last year, all of our goals were granted funds to help improve their existing programs, and begin launching new ones in the city of Milwaukee. Programs under Goal 1: Kindergarten Readiness were funded, including the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA)’s child care quality improvement pilot and the expansion of Betty Brinn’s parent engagement application Vroom. Next Door Milwaukee, partnering with the Literacy Lab, plans to launch their first replica program of Leading Men Fellowship this fall 2018 - that aims to bring men of color into early childhood education positions.

Also in 2017, Goal 4 worked with the Center for Youth Engagement to implement their strategic plan, as well as build school capacity to integrate quality SEL practices in recess with partner Playworks. Goal 3 developed a second project with M-cubed around summer melt reduction, and began the process of launching the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center, which serves as a reengagement center for Milwaukee’s Opportunity Youth.

All of these influential programs and initiatives wouldn’t have been possible without the funding from these successful organizations in Milwaukee. With the Funders' Collaborative and their shared passion for achievement and bettering Milwaukee, we are now able to see these programs flourish and have an impact in our community. We cannot wait to see what this new year brings! Learn more about each goal: Goal 1: Kindergarten Readiness, Goal 2: School Success, Goal 3: College and Career Readiness, Goal 4: Social & Emotional Learning on our website, and find out how you can get involved with our networks!

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