Above the Clouds to expand programs with Helen Bader Foundation grant


Above the Clouds, Inc., a Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization providing free arts education programs for at-risk youth and families, will expand the scope of its services thanks to a two-year $80,000 grant from the Helen Bader Foundation.

The nonprofit will begin dance classes Wednesday, Feb. 13, at the Urban Ecology Center in the Menomonee River Valley in order to serve the Layton Boulevard West community where 1,200 families are in need of programming.

The grant will enable the faith-based organization to triple the number of families it reaches annually from 600 to more than 1,800 individuals.

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“With us being at the Urban Ecology Center and working with the West Layton community, it will be a chance for us to really saturate that community and provide classes for children that haven’t had an opportunity to take our classes because of transportation issues,” said Linda Wade, co-founder of Above the Clouds.

The nonprofit, which holds classes at seven other easily accessible sites throughout Milwaukee, will kick off programming in the Layton Boulevard West community with two hip-hop classes – one catering to 5 through 8 year olds at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesdays and the other for older students at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Each class will serve a maximum of 25 students.

In expanding its programming, Above the Clouds has hired two additional dance instructors and is looking to add another martial arts instructor.

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As the organization continues to grow its programming in the Layton Boulevard West community, it will work to accommodate all 1,200 families, according to Wade.

While the Helen Bader Foundation has awarded grants to Above the Clouds in the past, this is the first multi-year grant it has given the organization.

“We believe in supporting programs that offer not only a safe environment for children, but also an environment in which they can learn and grow as individuals,” said Maria Lopez Vento, program officer for community partnerships for youth at the foundation. “Above the Clouds does a fantastic job of providing programs that help at-risk kids in our city grow creatively. With its waiting lists growing, it was clear Above the Clouds needed to expand this vital opportunity to help change the lives of at-risk children in the West Layton community.”

Above the Clouds classes, which focus on ballet, modern jazz, cheerleading, hip hop, theatre, music, drawing, weaving and more, are open to the public. For more information about classes, visit www.abovethecloudsmilwaukee.com.

The Urban Ecology Center Menomonee Valley branch is located at 3700 W. Pierce St. in Milwaukee.

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