Milwaukee Succeeds reaps $5M from community organizations

    Five cornerstone community organizations are sewing their dollars together to support Milwaukee Succeeds’ vision of improving educational outcomes for every student in Milwaukee.

    The organizations – Bader Philanthropies, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Herb Kohl Charities, Northwestern Mutual Foundation, and United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County – have formed a funding collaborative with a promise to gift $5 million to Milwaukee Succeeds over the next four years.

    Now almost 4 years old, the “cradle-to-career” community education initiative works to allocate resources to high-impact strategies that will enhance the education kids receive. Milwaukee Succeeds, steered by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, is anchored by four broad goals that touch key stages of childhood development. Those goals cover kindergarten readiness, school readiness, career readiness, and social and emotional health.

    Since its inception, the community initiative has made advancements in 10 of 11 educational benchmarks, including increasing the number of kids who are properly immunized, boosting proficiency rates in reading and math, improving students’ ACT composite scores, and upping the number of young adults who complete associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees.

    That progress is detailed in Milwaukee Succeeds’ 2015 Milestone Report.

    The initiative is now eyeing a set of goals to accomplish by 2020, which dollars from the new funding collaborative will aid.

    The commitment shown by the new funding collaborative is an “unprecedented” one, Danae Davis, executive director of Milwaukee Succeeds, said in a press release.

    “It validates what more than 400 volunteer leaders, coordinators, mentors and tutors are working toward – changing our children’s future and putting them first,” Davis said.

    Among its future objectives, Milwaukee Succeeds aims to rank among the top cities for 3rd grade reading. With collaborative funds, Milwaukee Succeeds organizers will largely focus on rolling out pilot strategies that address systemic change.

    “Milwaukee Succeeds and our partners are implementing strategies that are making impressive gains in reading skills in pilot programs at schools across sectors,” Davis said. “With a better understanding of what is working and what is holding us back, we are building the support needed to embed these strategies in our education delivery system and scale them community-wide.”

    Year-after-year commitments will be made by the collaborative following annual reviews that assess performance metrics.

    Milwaukee Succeeds is co-chaired by Jackie Herd-Barber, a board member of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation;  Michael Lovell, Ph.D., president of Marquette University; and John Schlifske, chairman and chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual.

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