Women United Endowment Fund
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United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Women United Endowment Fund

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Reestablished in 2019, to recognize the outstanding efforts of Elizabeth Brenner and the women and men who have made significant investments of time, talent, and treasure in the Teen Pregnancy Prevention work since its inception. The fund is used to support evidence-based strategies that align with United Way’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Healthy Youth programming.  

Healthy Youth Initiative

Since 2001, United Way has invested over $10.4 million and more than 52,000 youth and parents have been served by the Healthy Youth Initiative.  

2008 - Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative announced goal to reduce the teen birth rate for 15–17-year-olds by 46% by 2015. We launched the website BabyCanWait.com and included youth-focused content as well as resources for parents and caregivers.  

2012 - Exceeded our goal to reduce the teen birth rate – three years early! We have continued to see a decline in the birth rate since. 

By the numbers for Milwaukee County: 

2006 = 39.5 births per 1,000 teens  

2022 = 9.5 births per 1,000 teens 


Teen Pregnancy Rate chart

  • 2001 - Seeing the need for girls-specific programming, Women United began the Healthy Youth Initiative as the “Healthy Girls Initiative.”  Among initial investments was PEARLS for Teen Girls, who continues to partner with us today. 
  • 2006 - Healthy Youth Initiative evolves to focus on healthy relationships with most of the funding going to programming supporting healthy relationships. 
  • 2007 - Let’s Talk Family Communication Toolkit is implemented in response to research that young people want to hear information on sexual health from their parents/caregivers, but don’t know how to start the conversation. 
  • 2008 - Healthy Youth initiative requires an evidence-based curricula called Making Proud Choices. National trainers trained Milwaukee-based facilitators. The correlation between sexual violence and teen pregnancy called for investment shifts to both teen pregnancy prevention and healthy relationships evidence-based curricula like Safe Dates. 
  • 2009 - United Way staff trained in Making Proud Choices and taught the curricula in local schools alongside our Healthy Youth initiative funded partners. United Way staff began training facilitators locally in the evidence-based curricula.  
  • 2011 - Healthy Youth Leadership Institute launched in response to research that young people listen to their peers regarding sexual health if not comfortable talking to a parent or trusted adult. A four-day intensive retreat at COA’s Camp Helen Brachman for youth ages 14-17 included team building, sexuality, gender and gender oppression, LGBTQ+ inclusivity, sexual assault and victimization, local resources, and how to facilitate evidence-based curricula. The institute lasted 5 years, and trained hundreds of young people how to be peer-educators. 
  • 2018 - Expanded our investments to include teen sex trafficking prevention.  


The Healthy Youth Initiative invests in community-based organizations working alongside our school system during the school day and other partnerships with group homes, after school sites and juvenile detention centers. Since 2009, Making Proud Choices has been taught as a complement to Milwaukee Public School’s own Human Growth & Development Curricula.  

Founding Members

Aurora Health Care
Nicole Angresano
Susan C. Bellehumeur
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee
Elizabeth Brenner
Patty Cadorin
Sharon Canter
Minnie Chambers
Margaret Crowley
Julie Divjak
Pamela Fendt
Charlene Gaebler-Uhing, M.D.
Linda Gorens-Levey

Susan & Dick Hackl
Melissa Hanon
Jacqueline Herd-Barber
Gail Lione
Christine Liu McLaughlin
Jan Martin
Linda T. Mellowes
Marie O’Brien
Candy Pindyck
Thelma Sias

Christina & Jeremy Simon
Lynn Sprangers
Ann Stadler
Mary Ellen Stanek
Mary Kay Strachota 
Elaine Sweet
Mary Thurman
Peggy & Ron Troy
Stacy Williams
Mary Lou Young

Funded Programs

In 2023-24 the following agencies and programs became part of United Way’s Health Portfolio to ensure continued support. 

COA Youth & Family Centers 
Opportunities, Chances and Decisions helps youth (ages 11-18) gain the information, skills, and motivation to make healthy decisions about sex and relationships and reduce sexual violence, victimization and risky behaviors that lead to STIs, HIV and teen pregnancy, using the evidence based Making Proud Choices! curriculum. 

Diverse & Resilient 
Healthy Youth: Making Proud Choices! Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Allied Youth has adapted Making Proud Choices! curriculum for LBTQ youth (ages 13-18) with feedback from focus groups, youth, and a pilot group to address data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey that shows sexually active lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) girls are at higher risk for teen pregnancy and STIs/HIV than their peers. 

Youth Leadership Program: Independence First teaches Making Proud to youth with disabilities at schools in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. The program focuses on high school youth but can also be conducted for elementary age students with disabilities.

Lad Lake 
Lad Lake Healthy Youth Initiative: The program will utilize My Life, My Choice curriculum to prevent and/or decrease the risk of commercial sexual exploitation for twenty-five young women ages 12-18 within Lad Lake's out of home care programs. Lad Lake will also utilize the Making Proud Choices curriculum youth ages 12-21 engaged in Lad Lake services.

Neu-Life Community Resource Center 
Healthy Youth program: Neu Life uses the Making Proud Choices Curriculum with youth aged in-school and after school. Additionally, youth will receive Neu-STEPP, Neu-Life's Sex Trafficking Education Prevention Program. 

The Parenting Network 
Making Proud Choices plus RELATE is an evidence-based sexual education curriculum consisting of 8 modules combined with 2 added sessions from the RELATE (Relationship Education Leading Adolescents Toward Empowerment) curriculum that address the importance of understanding what constitutes a healthy relationship. 

Prevention Education Program: Making Proud Choices! and Street Smarts curricula provides inclusive prevention education for youth who attend middle schools and youth-serving community-based programs, with expertise in serving runaway/homeless youth populations. 

Positive Prevention Plus:  PEARLS’ strong programming components addressing the antecedents to teen pregnancy and addresses issues such as education, poverty, family, and relationships, they build their self-sufficiency, communication, goal setting, critical thinking, and positive decision-making skills.

Wisconsin Community Services 
Healthy Youth Initiative provide teen pregnancy prevention and sexual violence prevention curricula focusing on youth with a high risk of involvement in the criminal justice system, mental illness, substance-abuse, school expulsion, and poverty.

To learn more or make a gift contact Shemagne O’Keefe Mullins at 414.263.8202 or via email​​​​​​​.