2022 Racial Equity Fund Investments Announced
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United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

2022 Racial Equity Fund Investments Announced

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February 1, 2022

At United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, we believe in racial equity. We believe in building a community that offers access, resources, and the opportunity for long-term success. The Racial Equity Fund is focused on a commitment to deepen our impact as funders, partners, and conveners, especially as related to racial equity and social justice. 

The goal of the Racial Equity Fund is to invest in Black- and Brown-led organizations to increase organizational capacity. A total of $1.5 million will be invested in eleven organizations over the next three years. Funding decisions were made in partnership with the Racial Equity Fund Advisory Committee.

Four additional investments will be made to unique agencies over the next three years, with grantees determined by the advisory committee.

Here are the agencies who will receive the first round of investments:

African American Breastfeeding Network (AABN)

AABN was founded by two African American women and has built and nurtured leadership roles for African American mothers and fathers through its paid program delivery positions. While AABN is proud to be a people of color led organization, they value the diversity of voices that contribute to their success. 

The long-term goal is to strengthen the four program areas: father engagement, breastfeeding/lactation support, doula services, and perinatal infant loss support. The organization also wishes to align itself with elected officials, health care providers, and other organization to continue to champion legislation that will improve maternal and infant health. 

Artists Working in Education (AWE)

AWE promotes racial equity through their approach to arts outreach that is designed to eliminate barriers to entry, ensuring that everyone can have access to high-quality arts education experiences. These experiences are targeted to best reach residents of traditionally underserved neighborhoods as these residents are the most likely to face additional challenges in accessing healthcare, educational, and artistic opportunities. 

AWE’s short- and long-term goals center creativity and its positive impact on youth, artists, and neighborhoods. AWE aims to remove barriers to entry for youth to participate in high-quality arts education opportunities. AWE does this by bringing hands-on art-making experiences into communities, and activating spaces in which youth live, learn, and play. AWE aims to support Milwaukee artists, particularly BIPOC artists, in their professional development and growth.

Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition of Wisconsin (AAPI)

The AAPI Coalition of WI was formed in 2020 in response to the rise of anti-Asian hate. It is the first statewide organization to bring together the collective voice of the AAPI community. Their work focuses on coalition building through collaborative community-led projects that raise the visibility of AAPIs, combat anti-Asian racism, advocate for AAPI resources, and engage AAPIs civically. 

The organization has been run by volunteers and continues to be in response mode since its inception. To formalize and expand the organization, they look to engage the community to identify common needs and gaps in services impacting the AAPI community. 

Black Arts MKE, Inc.

Black Arts MKE’s mission is to increase the availability and quality of African American arts and culture. They execute their mission by inspiring creativity in at-risk youth through culturally relevant arts programming, providing MKE-based artists of color with employment, access, visibility, development opportunities through high quality public performances, strengthening community through engagement, and quality arts partnerships. 

Black Arts MKE has several goals, including advancing the operational stability of the organization and its ability to be nimble and innovative when responding to opportunities and challenges; expand multidisciplinary transformative programing to cultivate, challenge and engage audiences through extraordinary art works; and deepen relationships to increase revenues from audiences and donors, while expanding awareness and recognition. 

Black Educators Caucus

The mission of the Black Educators Caucus is to address systemic issues and institutional racism in public education, to challenge and break down barriers created by these institutions for both Black students and educators, and to fight for and promote racial justice in our classrooms, schools, district, and public education. 

Their focus will continue to be on training and professional development opportunities for their members that will allow them to become successful advocates for equitable education environments. They will also begin to create a plan for more Black educators in MPS. 

CAPITA (City at Peace in the Arts) Productions

CAPITA is a community theater program founded in 1990. They help Milwaukee students and families improve literacy, develop communication skills, nurture mutual trust, build confidence in themselves and their communities, and develop a deeper appreciation of the many ways African Americans have informed American culture. 

CAPITA has no employees. Their entire staff of 28 consists of contracted dedicated professionals work with them as needed on a part-time basis. Ticket sales typically cover most of the tech support and staffing of a live show; however, the limit of in-person programming has severely limited their ability to cover expenses. 

Short-term goals include diversifying cast members and audiences by developing partnerships with majority white groups, creating more original content (music and lyrics) to avoid ongoing usage fees (due to copyright), and developing intentional marketing strategy and media presence, both of which are critical in the performing arts community. Multi-year goals include moving from an aspirational, sometimes after-the-fact funding model, to one that balances attention to weekly programming and organizational development.

Metcalfe Park Community Bridges (MPCB)

MPCB supports neighborhood investment and revitalization by engaging residents, training leaders, and building bridges with partners, stakeholders, and government officials. 

The MPCB mission is to create a neighborhood where residents are safe, connected to each other, participate in community and civic life, have access to educational and economic opportunities, and celebrate diversity and culture. 

Short term goals include adding one experienced operations staff person and two community organizers, providing coaching opportunities for all staff, upgrading MPCB communications strategy (including website and social media), and offering public speaking training. In addition, they look to conduct a comprehensive community census, engage new Metcalfe Park residents, and re-engage long-term residents. The goal is to help residents stay in their homes by connecting residents to resources. 

Public Allies Wisconsin

The mission of Public Allies is to build a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it. Public Allies Wisconsin works at the system-level to dismantle white supremacist, heteropatriarchal beliefs about who should lead, how they should lead, and what they should have accomplished prior to being considered for leadership. 

Their goals include deepening their roots in Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha, while also expanding their reach across the state. Multi-year funding would sustainably expand the Training and Learning Program, build the capacity of Pathways programming, and fund a new program manager/director of team service projects.

Southside Organizing Committee (SOC)

SOC is a neighborhood-based organization dedicated to the development and sustainability of Milwaukee's near south side neighborhoods. It works with and for residents to create a safe, livable, and economically vibrant community. SOC is committed to helping residents achieve a greater voice, vote, and vehicle for collective action to make positive changes in their neighborhoods and community. 

Multi-year funding will \help SOC with the establishment of a structure, system, and practice of grassroots organizing that centers neighbors to lead and sustain change individually, in interest groups, and as a coalition. 

Walker’s Point Center for the Arts (WPCA)

WPCA is a cultural staple of the Walker’s Point neighborhood and a powerful advocate for underrepresented artists in Milwaukee and beyond. 

WPCA is renowned for providing high-caliber, accessible arts experiences for all. They support visual and performing arts and learning in a multicultural environment. The center fosters creativity in children through innovative education and encourages audience development and artistic talent with a diverse blend of programming. 

WPCA aims to increase the numbers of BIPOC, youth, immigrants, working-class, and LGBTQ+ folks served; increase the number of BIPOC, youth, women, immigrants, working-class, and LGBTQ+ artists exhibited; and inspire civic engagement of BIPOC, youth, women, immigrants, working-class, and LGBTQ+ folks through creative inquiry. 

Walnut Way Conservation Corp.

Walnut Way Conservation Corp. is a resident-led neighborhood organization in north side Milwaukee's Lindsay Heights neighborhood that is committed to sustaining an economically diverse community through civic engagement, environmental stewardship, and creating venues for prosperity. 

Short term goals include establishing a Neighborhood Improvement District, slated to go before the Common Council in 2022; re-establish the Lindsay Heights Planning Council, a broad collaboration of northside neighborhood groups; and increase resident-centered “Healthy Homes,” climate change education programs, stormwater management, urban gardens, energy efficiency, lead remediation, and broadband access. 

The Racial Equity Advisory Committee also awarded honorariums to organizations that completed a full application for funding but were declined. 

Click here to learn more about United Way's Racial Equity Portfolio and follow @UnitedWayGMWC on Facebook and Twitter for ongoing updates. 

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