Nominations sought for MANDI Awards

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The Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC), Milwaukee, is calling for nominations for the sixth annual Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Initiative (MANDI).
The annual MANDI Awards, which has one winner in each of five categories, provides grants for nonprofit agencies and public recognition for innovations in community development.
MANDI nominations will be accepted by LISC from private, public and nonprofit organizations at the LISC office, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 3008, Milwaukee, through November 1. The awards ceremony will be held March 10, 2005.
Leo Ries, program director for LISC, said MANDI Awards honor organizations and individuals that are bringing life and hope back to some of the city’s distressed neighborhoods.
"A lot of the efforts for community development, at initial glance, seem small on the scale, but collectively they are making the inner city neighborhoods more attractive," Ries said.
The five award categories are the Navigator Award, Vision Award, State Farm Insurance Building Blocks Award, Cornerstone Award and Trailblazer Award.
The Navigator Award recognizes leadership in neighborhood development by an individual associated with a community development organization. The Vision Award recognizes a foundation or nonprofit organization that has shown commitment to transform a community through financial contributions or development efforts.
The State Farm Insurance Building Blocks Award recognizes real estate projects contributing to the redevelopment of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods. One award is given to a small project and one award is given to a large project for the Building Blocks Award.
The Cornerstone Award recognizes a neighborhood development organization for innovation and perseverance. The Trailblazer Award recognizes an innovative program or project.
The winners receive a statuette and a grant to be donated to a nonprofit organization, Ries said. A total of $5,000 in grants will be awarded. The lone exception is the Vision Award, which does not come with a grant.
In addition, three finalists will be named for each category and will receive a plaque.
Maria Monreal-Cameron, president and chief executive officer of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, was the 2004 Navigator Award winner.
The MANDI award is an aid to communities and is becoming a more sought-after prize, she said.
"The MANDI award is certainly prestigious, and the cash award makes winning the award very impressive for the non-profit sector," Monreal-Cameron said. "It is very demanding for non-profits to meet their goals while keeping one eye on their budget."
Recognizing community development is more than just acknowledging organizations that erect structures. It also is an opportunity to thank them for changing people’s lives and neighborhoods, Ries said.
One example is the Milwaukee Fresh Start Initiative, which was the 2004 winner of the Trailblazer Award. The initiative is a collaboration of the Milwaukee Private Industry Council, the State Division of Housing, the City of Milwaukee, the Harambee Ombudsman Project, the Howard Fuller Educational Foundation and Northcott Neighborhood House.
"The Milwaukee Fresh Start Initiative teaches young adults job skills by having them build a house, and the initiative accomplished a number of things," Ries said. "Someone in need ends up with a house, but the young adults that may have had problems with the law in the past learn construction skills, business skills and communication skills. It puts them on a path to productive citizenship."
Other supporters of the MANDI Awards include the Donors Forum of Wisconsin, the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC), the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), the African American Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, the Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin, Inc. (UEDA), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and Mayor Tom Barrett.
"It is truly a wonderful reward to receive," Monreal-Cameron said. "I think through word-of-mouth, the award is helping immensely, and I think we should embrace the award and nominate individuals and organizations. We all know someone who would qualify under one or more of the categories."
October 1, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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