Friday, September 26, 2014
Easter Seals unveils renovated training center
September 26, 2014 10:48 AM
Easter Seals Southeast Wisconsin is bolstering its mission with the opening of its revamped training center in Waukesha – a 50,000-square-foot space that acts as a hub for its workforce development programs.
The West Allis-based nonprofit, which ensures people with disabilities have equal opportunities to work and thrive in their communities, opened its redesigned center with public tours and a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

The festivities were attended by several public officials, including Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Waukesha County executive Dan Vrakas.

Renovations within the center totaled $1.1 million with construction completed by MSI General from spring through early July.

The reimagined center, located at 505 Northview Rd., now holds an adaptive commercial training and catering kitchen, the first of its kind for Easter Seals and the only handicap-accessible kitchen of its kind in Waukesha County, the organization said.

The kitchen serves as a training ground for people with disabilities who are interested in jumpstarting a career in the hospitality industry. Many of those trainees belong to LilyWorks Catering, a catering company branded under Easter Seals that prepares food for contracted community and corporate events as well as staffs each event.

Along with the commercial kitchen, the redeveloped center has two clean rooms designated for food product processing, handling and packaging and the production of Easter Seals LilyBrew private label coffee. These spaces can be leased to individuals and businesses in need of a commercial kitchen setting for cooking demonstrations and classes or the production of their own private label goods.

Adjacent to the kitchen is a video equipped chef demonstration area, also leasable to the public, where the nonprofit will host daily living skills classes focused on meal preparation.

Additionally, the renovated space features a banquet facility and conference room that can hold up to 125 people and an adaptive technology lab with 26 computer stations.

The banquet facility will host many of the nonprofit organization’s events and will also function as an event venue for area companies and community organizations. Easter Seals welcomes outside entities to rent its space for breakfasts, luncheons, trainings, meetings and events with customers.

“This is a real conference center where you will get the best treatment, the best hospitality and the best service,” said Bob Glowacki, president and CEO of the nonprofit.

Within the adaptive technology lab, Easter Seals will train its clients in resume writing, job searching, career coaching and other skill building exercises toward the pursuit of employment.

The lab space will also be available for companies and organizations to lease for large-scale training courses and events.

The new site is further enhanced by a renovated room to house the nonprofit’s Career Connect program, a prevocational program that places clients in community workplace settings to groom critical job skills.

Prior to the upgrades at the Waukesha training center, which Easter Seals has occupied since fall of 2010, much of the building was consumed by warehouse space, Glowacki said.

The renovations are essential in helping the organization expand its mission and its revenue streams so that it can be less dependent on philanthropic and government resources, Glowacki said.

The new site also aims to foster a more inclusive workforce in southeastern Wisconsin.

“You cannot underestimate what it means that when people come here they are being served by individuals with disabilities,” Glowacki said. “It breaks down stereotypes…It opens up (people’s) eyes to the potential for including people with disabilities in their workforce.”

Easter Seals has raised about $800,000 for the $1.1 million project, which was financed by PNC Bank. The organization plans to continue fundraising with a matching grant program through the end of the year.

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City selling foreclosed properties to nonprofits for $1
September 26, 2014 10:51 AM
Nonprofit organizations looking for a home in Milwaukee now have an opportunity to purchase city-owned, tax-foreclosed properties for $1, thanks to legislation approved by the Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday.
Through the legislation, which was authored by Common Council president Michael Murphy, qualifying nonprofits can pay $1 for a property that has been on the market for at least 60 days and has a maximum asking price of $20,000.

Prior to the legislation, which was co-sponsored by council members Russell Stamper II, Robert Bauman, Willie Wade, Nik Kovac and Ashanti Hamilton, nonprofits could purchase foreclosed properties owned by the city for $1,000.

To be considered for a $1 transaction, nonprofits must be a registered 501(c)(3) organization “with demonstrable experience in residential renovation,” according to the city. Organizations will need to show proof of financing for renovation work before closing, and properties that buyers maintain as investments will be subject to real estate taxes.

The new policy will work in tandem with a second piece of legislation approved by the Common Council on Tuesday. That legislation builds on a pilot program in which the Department of City Development selected five real estate brokers in a Request for Qualifications to market up to 100 tax-foreclosed properties. The nine-month program, which launched last November, resulted in the sale of 67 properties and an additional 18 properties in the process of closing, according to reports from the DCD in mid-July.

“I’m glad to see this pilot program exceeding our expectations,” Murphy said. “Using real estate brokers to market the city’s stock of foreclosed properties has turned out to be an excellent example of a public-private partnership with the potential to benefit property owners citywide.”

Through the legislation adopted on Tuesday, the DCD will select five more brokers to begin marketing properties. All 1,000 of the foreclosed properties owned by the city will be eligible for marketing in the program.

“This is yet another good step toward moving city-owned foreclosures off of the auction block and onto the tax rolls,” Murphy said. “Instead of accumulating blight and negative equity, these properties can once again become someone’s home.”

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Oscar winner to make appearance at Milwaukee Film Festival
September 26, 2014 10:52 AM
Academy Award winning filmmaker John Ridley will make an appearance at the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival, which debuted on Thursday.
Ridley, a Milwaukee native who won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “12 Years a Slave,” will attend the screening of “Jimi: All Is By My Side” at the Oriental Theatre on Saturday. Ridley wrote and directed the film, which traces the life of music icon Jimi Hendrix from 1966-1967. Hendrix is played by Andre Benjamin of the band Outkast.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who is also co-founder of Milwaukee Film and a member of its board, played a critical role in arranging transportation for Ridley’s visit to Milwaukee. Ridley is currently working in Austin, Texas on the production of a new television drama, “American Crime,” that is expected to premiere on ABC mid-season.

According to film festival organizers, “Jimi: All Is By My Side” will serve as the “centerpiece” of the entire arts event. The film is scheduled to run at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

The Milwaukee Film Festival, in its sixth year, will run through Thursday, Oct. 9. The festivities kicked off Thursday night with the screening of the documentary “1971” at the Oriental Theatre, followed by an opening night party at Kilworth Square East.

Films will be presented at the Landmark Oriental Theatre, the Landmark Downer Theatre, Fox-Bay Cinema Grill and the Times Cinema.

For the film festival lineup, show times and ticket information, visit

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UPAF to distribute a record $9 million from successful fundraising campaign
September 26, 2014 10:55 AM
After completing a record campaign of more than $11.7 million earlier this year, the United Performing Arts Fund has announced that it will distribute more than $9 million among its 15 member groups and 23 affiliates.
Representing a nine percent increase over 2013, the distribution total is also a record for the nonprofit performing arts advocate.

UPAF plans to dole out nearly $8.9 million to its 15 member groups and about $222,000 to 23 affiliate organizations.

“Allocating more than $9 million to our performing arts groups enables UPAF to fulfill a vital part of its mission, which is to judiciously steward the dollars we raise,” said Deanna Tillisch, UPAF president and CEO. “Our community has shown its commitment to the performing arts, which is essential to sustaining a vibrant cultural scene in southeastern Wisconsin.”

Remaining funds from the 2014 campaign, which ran from March 4 through June 5, will help cover the organization’s operating expenses.

UPAF determined specific dollar amounts for each beneficiary member organization through an independent committee, which was expanded this year so that more of UPAF’s corporate donors could weigh in on the funding decisions. The committee, which included representatives from Northwestern Mutual, Johnson Controls, We Energies, Baird, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ashton Group, followed an allocation process created in 2013 to decide how much to award each recipient.

UPAF member groups that each received a portion of the nearly $8.9 million include: Bel Canto Chorus, Dancework, First Stage, Florentine Opera Company, Milwaukee Ballet Company, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Children’s Choir, Milwaukee Public Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, Next Act Theatre, Present Music, Renaissance Theaterworks and Skylight Music Theatre.

A separate panel of reviewers decided how to distribute additional funds to 23 affiliate performing arts groups. Each affiliate applied for funding through a competitive, program-based grant application process.

UPAF’s 2014 campaign was co-chaired by Bob Arzbaecher, chairman of Actuant Corporation; Therese Burkhart, community volunteer; and Glen Hackmann, vice chairman of Robert W. Baird and Co.

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YMCA of Metro Milwaukee cancels site auction
September 26, 2014 10:57 AM
As the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee continues to climb out of a $30 million debt, the organization has announced that a Sept. 29 court-appointed auction intended to place a number of its locations up for bid has been cancelled.
The YMCA has not secured any new qualified bidders to take part in the auction for its Southwest, Tri-County, West Suburban and Feith Family YMCA sites.

The deadline to submit bids was Monday.

The organization will forge ahead with offers from the YMCA of Central Waukesha County and the Kettle Moraine YMCA. A court hearing on Sept. 30 will put those offers on the table.

In August, the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee announced that the YMCA of Central Waukesha County is pursuing the Southwest, Tri-County and West Suburban YMCA sites for a total purchase price of $7 million in cash at closing, plus an earn out of up to $1 million based on those facilities’ earnings for calendar years 2014-2016.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee also announced that the Kettle Moraine YMCA hopes to buy the Feith Family Ozaukee YMCA for $2 million in cash at closing, pending financing and fundraising contingencies.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee expects both transactions to close by Oct. 15, pending court approval. Part of the sale proceeds will help the organization overcome its debt.

“This process has reaffirmed that the offers from the Waukesha and Kettle Moraine Y’s represent the fair value of these properties,” Julie Tolan, president and CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, said in a statement. “We are grateful that kids, families and seniors at these facilities will all continue to enjoy their Y, and the community programming, outreach, scholarship and other factors that make the Y unique will be preserved. Equally as important, the offers to purchase these facilities both contain agreements to retain substantially all employees as well as agreements to honor all membership contracts. We look forward to completing these transactions – the proceeds of which will be used to pay down our debt – and to continuing our efforts to reemerge from Chapter 11 a stronger, more focused, financially-viable Y.”

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Ronald McDonald House opens expanded facility
September 26, 2014 10:59 AM
Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin officially opened its expanded facility during a ribbon cutting event on Tuesday.
The $10 million expansion project, completed over 18 months, has doubled the nonprofit facility’s size. The organization’s site, located at 8948 W. Watertown Plank Rd. in Wauwatosa, now has 70 guest suites, as well as a music therapy room, a fitness center, study rooms and new kitchens to accommodate families whose children rely on treatment at area hospitals.

“Our new facility gives us the hope that we will never have to say ‘no’ to a family that is facing one of life’s greatest challenges,” said Ann Petrie, president and chief executive officer of Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin.

In 2013, the organization had to turn away close to 900 families, many of them from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, as it lacked appropriate space and resources, according to Petrie.

As the Ronald McDonald House’s regional branch celebrated the opening of its expanded facility Tuesday, it also honored its 30th anniversary. The organization said it has hosted more than 35,000 families since its inception.

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Community Care Inc. welcomes five new members to its board
September 26, 2014 11:00 AM
Brookfield-headquartered Community Care Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to coordinating medical and long-term care for the elderly and adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, has welcomed five new members to its 17-person board of directors.
The members are: Marianne Canter, executive director at Stillwaters Cancer Support Services; Rick Gebhardt, the founder and president of Injectec; Yvette Rowe, business operations manager at the City of Milwaukee Health Department; Mark Thomas, associate director at the Sojourner Family Peace Center;  and Wendell Willis, president of operations at Ways to Work.

Community Care serves residents of 11 eastern Wisconsin counties and offers the three Medicare- or Medicaid-eligible care programs of Family Care, Family Care Partnership and Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.

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BizTimes accepting Health Care Heroes nominations
September 26, 2014 11:02 AM
BizTimes Media is accepting nominations for its Health Care Heroes Awards, which honor individuals and organizations that are making a significant impact on the quality of health care in our area.
The inspirational program recognizes excellence, promotes innovation, encourages emulation of successful programs, educates the general public and contributes to the enhancement of the value and quality of health care.

BizTimes is accepting nominations for the following categories:

* Advancements in Health Care: Honors a company or individual primarily responsible for a scientific discovery or for the development of a new medical product or procedure.
* Behavioral Health: Honors an individual or organization for its leadership, commitment and care on behavioral health issues.
* Community Service: Honors an individual or an organization for leadership in focusing on solving a particular health care issue.
* Corporate Achievement in Health Care: Honors a company that has successfully implemented an innovative health care product, process or service.
* Executive Leadership: Honors a senior-level individual who demonstrates strong skills in leading his or her organization in quality care, collaboration and financial management.
* First Responder: Honors a person who arrived on the scene of a health care emergency, utilizing his or her training to treat and comfort the patient in need.
* Health Care Staff: Honors an individual who has made a significant difference in the wellbeing of others.
* Nurse: Honors an individual from the nursing field whose performance on the job is considered exemplary by patients, peers and physicians.
* Physician: Honors a physician whose performance on the job is considered exemplary by patients and peers.
* Volunteer: Honors an individual who has done volunteer work for the good of one or more people or the entire community.
Nominations will be judged on documented accomplishments, and winners will be notified in early November. All Health Care Heroes Award winners will be profiled in the print and online editions of BizTimes Milwaukee. The winners will be saluted at a breakfast on Friday, Dec. 19, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee-West in Wauwatosa.

The deadline for nominations is Oct. 17. To nominate a Health Care Hero, click here.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Employers can invest in next generation of leaders at Get Smarter Conference
September 26, 2014 11:04 AM
BizTimes Media invites southeastern Wisconsin employers to invest in their next generation of leaders by sending them to the 2014 BizTimes Get Smarter Talent Development Conference.
Read more in Thursday’s Milwaukee Biz Blog by BizTimes Milwaukee executive editor Steve Jagler.

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BizTimes Media 2014 Giving Guide
September 26, 2014 11:06 AM
BizTimes Media’s fourth annual Giving Guide offers southeastern Wisconsin’s business community an outlet to connect with area nonprofit organizations for philanthropic involvement.
The Giving Guide features the missions, volunteer opportunities and giving opportunities of more than 30 regional nonprofits providing a spectrum of services and resources to residents in need.

Explore BizTimes’ Giving Guide at

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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)
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