Helen Bader Foundation increases funding capacity with new structure and name

The Helen Bader Foundation has dramatically expanded its lifespan with a new structure that will enable it to continue distributing grants in perpetuity.

The Milwaukee-based foundation, now known as Bader Philanthropies, Inc., plans to allocate dollars as long as possible through two distinct funds: The Helen Daniels Bader Fund and the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund.

The new structure largely stems from an $8 million annual contribution made to the foundation by Isabel and Alfred Bader. The couple’s financial pledge, which builds on several years of giving, will enable Bader Philanthropies to boost its annual giving by 40 percent to more than $14 million, equal to more than $4 million in additional annual funds.

Their dollars “increase our capacities and continue the legacy of the family’s charitable giving, which we’ve done over many decades now,” said Daniel Bader, president and chief executive officer of Bader Philanthropies and son of Alfred and Helen Bader.

Alfred, an entrepreneur behind Aldrich Chemical Company, was previously married to Helen, the namesake of the foundation. The two eventually divorced, and Helen found purpose in serving the city’s homeless resident, mentally ill and families in crisis after completing a Master of Social Work degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Helen died in 1989, and the foundation was erected in January 1992 to extend her community activism. Over the past 24 years, the foundation has invested approximately $250 million into designated projects and organizations primarily focused on workforce development, community partnerships for youth, and Alzheimer’s and aging.

Those focus areas will remain the foundation’s top priorities moving forward. While the Helen Daniels Bader Fund, which includes Helen’s maiden name, will address the foundation’s efforts surrounding Alzheimer’s and aging, the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund will support its workforce development and community partnerships for youth initiatives. However, grants awarded to designated beneficiaries will come from a collective pot administered by Bader Philanthropies, and entities applying for grants will submit their applications to the overarching organization.

Helen and Alfred’s two sons, Daniel and David, will remain at the helm of the foundation, whose employee count of a dozen will remain the same.

The only personnel change will be marked by the addition of Margaret Foster, niece of Isabel Bader, to the foundation’s board of directors. Foster is a health care administrator who lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Daniel said his mother would take pride in the foundation’s progress and the new direction it is turning.

“I think she would be very proud of the legacy of the foundation and impressed with what we’ve been able to accomplish since we started in the early ‘90s, and she would be very happy I think that we are increasing our giving and helping to fund more organizations and serve more people,” he said.

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