Friday, May 22, 2015
'Milwaukee's Finest' campaign nets $55,000
May 22, 2015 11:22 AM
After watching her brother face the daily struggles of cystic fibrosis (CF) his entire life, Lisa Hedrick hopes that one day, with her help, CF will instead stand for “cure found.”

Hedrick, principal at St. Bruno Parish School in Dousman, was honored on Thursday with the “Breath of Life” Award for contributing the most funds to the 2015 “Milwaukee’s Finest” campaign - more than $16,500. The fourth annual fundraising drive empowered nine young professionals to raise as much money as possible over 11 weeks for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – Wisconsin Chapter.

Together, their efforts generated a total of $55,000. That figure was $5,000 shy of the campaign’s $60,000 goal but still impressive for a group of nine, organizers said, particularly as participation numbers were down this year.

Last year’s “Milwaukee’s Finest” campaign featured 11 honorees and surpassed the $49,000 fundraising mark. While the 2015 drive kicked off with 11 honorees, nine completed the 11-week fundraising run.

Rick Verthein, chair of Milwaukee’s Finest and a financial advisor at Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., said that with numbers down he was not as confident this year’s fundraising total would trump those of past years.

“You can never jump to conclusions,” he said Thursday evening, when CFF recognized all nine honorees at a reception held at InterContinental Milwaukee.

He credits creativity on the part of honorees as well as their ambition in organizing large-scale fundraising events, for the campaign’s success.

“This was kind of a go big or go home kind of group,” Verthein said.

Each “Milwaukee’s Finest” honoree, who was nominated by a supervisor, colleague or other contact, aimed to raise at least $2,500 toward CFF’s mission to support both research of cystic fibrosis and families impacted by the disease.

Honorees could collect funds in whatever ways they wanted. While much of Hedrick’s funds stemmed from donations she pulled in through an “old-fashioned letter writing campaign,” she said, she also tapped into the generosity of her students. By framing a competition between her students and those of another school, Hedrick raised $2,500. The classroom that topped out with the most funds will have a chance to attack Hedrick with silly string early next month.

Hedrick also brought her younger brother, Tony Arenas, into her school to talk to students about the health struggles he endures living with cystic fibrosis. The chronic disease causes mucus to accumulate in the lungs and digestive tract among other areas in the body.

His story better connected her students to the differences that their dollars will make, Hedrick said.

“He gave them something to see what their money was going toward,” she said.

Arenas fueled much of Hedrick’s motivation to be named the top fundraiser of this year’s campaign, particularly as he has confronted significant health challenges this year, she said.

“I wanted to come out victorious because I felt like I wanted to do right by my brother,” she said, adding that she wanted to be able to share her victory with him during his wedding day, which falls on Sunday.

Even as Arenas has battled health challenges brought on by cystic fibrosis, Hedrick said she maintains hope that a cure for the disease will be found.

“I think a cure will be found in my brother’s lifetime…He’s really had a hard last few months, but I think that there will be a cure in his lifetime,” she said.

For her place as the campaign’s top fundraiser, Hedrick has won a vacation getaway.

In addition to Hedrick, this year’s class of honorees included Doug Hipple of Bank Mutual, Bryan Johnsen of Tri City National Bank, Deborah Ladd of Cohen Fund Audit Services, Mike Lauber of Ernst & Young LLP, Stephen Minutolo of Kohl’s and the Wisconsin Army National Guard, Julian Palacios of Johnson Controls, Bryan Schauland of Johnson Bank and Kevin Strong of ETE Reman.

BizTimes Media sponsored the 2015 campaign along with FM102.1, Bank Mutual, Johnson Bank, Cohen Fund Audit Services, Rick Verthein with Robert W. Baird, Tri City National Bank, ActionCOACH of Elm Grove, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, InterContinental Milwaukee and AVC, and White Dog Photography & Design.

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Donors Forum of Wisconsin changes name
May 22, 2015 11:26 AM
The Donors Forum of Wisconsin has a new name – Wisconsin Philanthropy Network.

The organization is a professional membership association of grantmakers from across the state. The new name more accurately captures the organization’s mission, according to Jill Van Calster, president and chief executive officer.

“Wisconsin Philanthropy network more fully expresses our mission and vision for the future without deviating from the values and principles that our organization has embraced over the past 37 years,” Van Calster said.

The organization’s membership includes grantmaking foundations and corporate giving programs that facilitate competitive grant programs. The organization also caters to donor-advised funds and private funders.

Its offerings for grantmakers span from peer networking opportunities to skill building resources and research services.

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Jazz concert to benefit Fisher House Wisconsin
May 22, 2015 11:27 AM
Milwaukee composer Penny Corris aims to raise as much money as possible for Fisher House Wisconsin as she debuts a set of original songs at a June 13 concert on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s campus.

Corris, who grew up in Whitefish Bay and now resides in Hartland, is a classically trained composer who studied music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, at Brandeis University and at the Mozarteum in Austria. For close to 50 years, she has been teaching piano and music theory. Today, she offers piano, music theory and composition lessons out of her home.

During her June 13 concert, she will premiere “American Songbook,” a collection of 15 songs with a jazzy edge and a Latin flair.

That music style is not one Corris has devoted much of her career to as she has an affinity for classical pieces.

“I was very surprised,” she said of her ability to compose jazz-flavored songs. “I didn’t know that I had it in me. I didn’t know that I could do that, but I found out I can and very successfully, too.”

In preparing for the debut of her work, she has hired celebrated musicians from across the country. Among those taking the stage on June 13 will be bass player Michael Britz, who has jammed with music giants such as Diahann Carroll, Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra, Jr. Also slated to perform is Niffer Clarke, a vocalist who has sung in concert with the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as jazz pianist Dan Dance.

Corris hopes to draw as many audience members as possible to her show, which is free and open to the public. Corris has underwritten all costs for the show and will encourage attendees to make donations toward Fisher House Wisconsin, a Milwaukee facility that serves military veterans and their families undergoing treatment at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.

This concert is Corris’ first large-scale effort to raise funds for the center.

“I feel very strongly about the way that veterans are treated when they come home,” Corris said. “I don’t think that they get treated with the care that they should be given and, consequently, I wanted to do something to help them.”

She does not have a fundraising goal but simply wants to fill as many seats as possible at the show, which she compares to a Broadway review.

“It’s going to be fabulous,” Corris said.

Corris’ concert is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. and will be held at the UWM Helene Zelazo Performing Arts Center, located at 2419 E. Kenwood Boulevard in Milwaukee. “American Songbook” will also be available as a CD later this year. For more information on Corris, her work and her show, visit

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Boys & Girls Clubs partners with MPS on new scholars program
May 22, 2015 11:29 AM
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and Milwaukee Public Schools this fall will partner on a new scholars program that will act as an academic support program.

The MarVan Scholars program will roll out in a five-year model and will give K-8 students more opportunities to extend their learning after school, largely through the use of online-based tools. The program will also work to better align the academic efforts of day-school and after-school staff.

Through the scholars program, BGCGM will provide students more time after school to complete homework and online tutoring. Students will also be able to attend daily and weekly coaching sessions led by onsite academic coordinators and educational coordinators.

Their progress will be monitored by online learning tools and other analytics.

The program will launch at four pilot MPS-based community learning centers in its first year, eventually growing to serve 33 schools. The program will serve students who are members of BGCGM at the centers, which are: Allen-Field Elementary School; Dr. Martin Luther King, J. Elementary School; Engleburg Elementary School; and Clarke Street School.

By the 2018-19 school year, BGCGM expects to be serving more than 17,000 members with the MarVan Scholars program each year.

Melinda Wyant Jansen, chief academic officer at BGCGM, will guide the development of the program. BGCGM plan to hire additional staff to facilitate the program, including an education data manager and 33 academic coaches.

The new program is made possible by a $5 million donation from Keith Mardak and his wife, Mary Vandenberg, who have been longtime supporters of BGCGM. Their gift represents the largest donation in the nonprofit’s history.

“We are extremely grateful for the support Keith and Mary have given and continue to give to our Clubs’ members,” Vincent Lyles, president and chief executive officer of BGCGM, said in an announcement. “Our goal with this new effort is to work collaboratively with schools to increase students’ time on task. Together, we will help kids reach their goals on a path to a bright future.”

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Repairers of the Breach seeking Memorial Day picnic donations
May 22, 2015 11:31 AM
Milwaukee nonprofit organization Repairers of the Breach, which provides daytime shelter for the city’s homeless, is requesting donations for its annual Memorial Day Picnic Lunch.

The picnic lunch will provide a meal for hundreds of men and women, as well as a social gathering.

The organization is seeking donations of all beef hotdogs, hot dog buns, ketchup, mustard, napkins, sturdy paper plates, water, juice, soda, chips and dessert (preferably cupcakes).

Repairers of the Breach asks those interested in donating to drop the items off by Friday at the center, which is located at 1335 W. Vliet St. in Milwaukee.

Those interested in volunteering to serve lunch are also welcome, and can sign up by contacting Monica Walters at

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United Way of Washington County appoints 2015 campaign chairs
May 22, 2015 11:33 AM
United Way of Washington County has named Tom and Pat Strachota chairs of its 2015 fundraising campaign.

Tom is general manager of Dairyland Seed Co., Inc., located near Kewaskum, and his wife, Pat, is the former Majority Leader of the Wisconsin state Assembly.

Pat has also served as a volunteer on United Way’s health allocation panel.

The 2015 campaign will run from September through December, and all funds will be distributed among area programs rooted in education, income and health.

“Tom and Pat are exceptional leaders, and we are thrilled to have them leading our team,” Kristin Brandner, executive director of United Way of Washington County, said in an announcement. “Tom brings years of experience and knowledge from the agricultural and business sectors, and Pat brings all of her government and social service skills. It’s an incredible combination, and I know they will be highly effective in mobilizing the community to support our mission to improve lives and community conditions.”

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BizTimes Media 2015 Giving Guide
May 22, 2015 11:35 AM
BizTimes Media’s fifth annual Giving Guide serves the region’s business community as a vehicle to engage with area nonprofit organizations and discover opportunities for philanthropic involvement.

The Giving Guide features the missions, fundraising efforts, and giving opportunities of more than 50 regional nonprofits filling a diversity of needs.

To view BizTimes’ Giving Guide, visit

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Nonprofit Calendar
May 22, 2015 11:36 AM

*Wednesday, May 27, the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Greater Milwaukee Chapter will hold a program exploring ways that employers and their staffs can foster more inclusive workplaces and the benefits of creating a more inclusive, diverse work environment. The program, titled “Milwaukee’s Top Workplaces: Valuing Inclusion, Creating Connections,” will feature a discussion led by Danae Davis, chief executive officer of PEARLS for Teen Girls and future executive director of Milwaukee Succeeds. The program will run from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Urban Ecology Center – Washington Park branch, located at 4415 W. Lisbon Ave. in Milwaukee. Networking, refreshments and optional canoeing will also be built into the evening. For more information or to register, click here.

*Sunday, May 31, the United Performing Arts Fund will hold its 2015 “Ride for the Arts” fundraiser. The ride, sponsored by Miller Lite, features routes that cover 5, 12, 25, 40 and 66 miles. All rides start and end at the south gate of Summerfest Grounds at the intersection of Polk Street and Harbor Drive. Riders taking part in the 66-mile ride will begin at 7 a.m. with the other rides following at staggered times. Now through May 30, participation costs $55 for adults, $45 for youth and $155 for families. Day-of registration costs $60 for adults, $50 for youth and $170 for families. All funds will benefit UPAF, which supports the region’s performing arts sector. For more information on “Ride for the Arts,” visit

*Thursday, June 4, the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee will feature a workshop on “Starting a Nonprofit: Legal Issues and Documents.” The workshop will walk attendees through the process of establishing a 501(c)(3) organization. The workshop will educate attendees about creating bylaws and completing necessary forms, such as Articles of Incorporation, Employer ID Number, and Application for Recognition of Exemption. The information will be presented by Jackie Boynton, attorney at Law Offices of Jackie Boynton in Milwaukee. “Starting a Nonprofit” will run from 9 a.m. to noon at the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee, located at 2819 W. Highland Boulevard in Milwaukee. Cost is $70. The Nonprofit Center advises attendees to experience the startup workshop “To Be or Not to Be” as a prerequisite. For more information on Nonprofit Center workshops, click here.

*Thursday, June 4, golfers taking part in “Danny’s Golf Outing” will benefit area families affect by spina bifida, which is a birth defect in which the spinal cord does not develop properly. The 11th annual outing will feature lunch, an 18-hole scramble, refreshments throughout the day and dinner. The day will also include a social hour with an open bar and silent and voice auctions and raffles. Cost is $150 for individual golfers and $75 for attendees wanting dinner only. Registration starts at 10:30 a.m. with lunch scheduled for 11 a.m. and a scramble shotgun start at noon. The outing will be held at Ironwood, located at W270 N6166 Moraine Drive in Sussex. For more information or to register, click here.

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Erica Breunlin BizTimes Nonprofit Weekly is compiled by BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Erica Breunlin. This bulletin is published every Friday morning. Send news tips to or call her at (414) 336-7121.

Nonprofit Resource List

» Association of Fundraising Professionals Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter (AFP)
» BizTimes Nonprofit Directory
» BizTimes Nonprofit Giving Guide
» Board Star
» CCB, Inc.
» Donors Forum of Wisconsin
» Leading Transitions, LLC
» MKE 123
» Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee, Inc.
» Nonprofit Management Fund
» Tri-Adathon
» University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Nonprofit Management Center
» The Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee
» Wisconsin Nonprofits Association
» Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) Milwaukee Chapter


» Greater Milwaukee Foundation
» Helen Bader Foundation
» Northwestern Mutual Foundation
» The Faye McBeath Foundation
» Next Door Foundation
» The Bradley Foundation

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