Auer Avenue Parent Room Transformed by Northwestern Mutual Volunteers (with Photos!)
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Auer Avenue Parent Room Transformed by Northwestern Mutual Volunteers (with Photos!)

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Northwestern Mutual volunteers and Community School Coordinator Michelle Allison paint the Auer Avenue Parent Room!

September 15, 2017

Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

As the bell rang on the first day of school at Auer Avenue Elementary, a Milwaukee Community School, volunteers from Northwestern Mutual joined Auer parents, staff, and community members came together to celebrate the unveiling of the newly revamped Parent Engagement Room.

This large room on the school’s first floor acts as a computer lab, workshop space, and resource hub for Auer Avenue parents.

“Before, it was a drab 60s orange and we wanted to bring some life to it,” said Michelle Allison, Community School Coordinator at Auer Avenue. “When our parents come in to this space, it should rejuvenate them and help get them into a peaceful mindset.”

As part of a year-round engagement effort within the Amani neighborhood, Northwestern Mutual adopted the Auer Avenue Parent Room, sending employee volunteers to repaint and donating laptops and furniture to make the space both comfortable and functional.

Noreen Noonan, Community Specialist with Northwestern Mutual Foundation, was proud to be part of the volunteer team: “I loved working side by side with my coworkers to provide an appealing space where parents and community members can collaborate, work on continued education, resume building skills/job searches, increase their computer abilities, or work towards their GED to name a few.”

The Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership, a collaborative effort between United Way and Milwaukee Public Schools, works to transform local schools into community hubs.

Parent support and engagement in student success is a key part of this effort. Often, that means the parents need access to resources to continue their own education, find a job, and connect with one another.

“(In the new Parent Engagement Center,) parents will have the opportunity to access resources, work with their children, and be a part of their children’s life and education,” said School Board Director Annie Woodward. “The great thing is: we have many parents who did not complete their own education, and now they have a place to come to do that.”

For Northwestern Mutual, the opportunity was a perfect fit. “Auer Avenue School is a connection point for three of our focus areas: supporting United Way, our focus on the Amani neighborhood (one of 3 neighborhoods NM supports financially and with volunteers), and as part of our 3rd grade reading portfolio,” said Thomas Rosenthal, Program Officer with Northwestern Mutual Foundation.  “Our future at Northwestern Mutual is connected to the future of this community. It’s our home, it’s where we recruit employees, and so when families and students succeed our future looks brighter.”

Check out the incredible transformation:

Auer Avenue Parent Engagement Room Before Transformation

....and the new and improved Auer Avenue Parent Enagagement Room!

A happy parent enjoys the new furniture...

Auer Avenue staff, parents, Northwestern Mutual volunteers, and community members at the Parent Engagement Room Grand Opening

Transforming the Auer Avenue Parent Engagement Center is just the beginning: Northwestern Mutual plans to engage 300 employees in community-wide volunteer projects during United Way’s Season of Caring this fall.

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