Northwestern Mutual pledges $1.7 million to support Milwaukee neighborhood revitalization

Northwestern Mutual Tower & Commons. Credit: Jon Elliott of MKE Drones LLC
Northwestern Mutual Tower & Commons. Credit: Jon Elliott of MKE Drones LLC

Last updated on September 2nd, 2022 at 01:32 pm

Northwestern Mutual will donate $1.7 million in grants to nearly 30 nonprofit organizations in Milwaukee’s Amani, Metcalfe Park and Muskego Way neighborhoods, the Milwaukee-based life insurance company announced this week.

The grants, awarded through the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, are aimed at supporting community-led efforts to “foster safe neighborhoods, healthy and thriving youth, and strong families,” according to a news release.

“The most impactful changes happen when we listen to the residents directly within our communities and provide them with the skills, guidance and resources they need to build a vibrant neighborhood,” said Steve Radke, president of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation. “Our partners continue to inspire us as they mobilize their collective power to change the experience and narrative for residents in Milwaukee.”

As part of this year’s investment in neighborhood revitalization, the company recently launched its Collaborative Grants Program, which aims to encourage collaboration across local nonprofit organizations in Amani, Metcalfe Park and Muskego Way.

“The program is designed to eliminate programmatic duplication, while also positioning and preparing partners to access funding to further their revitalization efforts,” the company said.

This year, six projects have been selected to receive a collective total of $240,000 in funding through the program.

In the Amani neighborhood, the selected projects include:

  • Critical Home Repair and Training Program, led by Dominican Center with collaborative partners Ezekiel Community Development Corp. and Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity. The project’s goal is to restore integrity to the houses on the pilot block of the Amani Housing Strategy by identifying homes that qualify for critical home repairs and facilitating remodeling projects, while also equipping residents with transferable skills for the trade industry.
  • Resident Leadership Training, led by Safe & Sound Inc. in partnership with Data You Can Use, Dominican Center and Wisconsin Voices. Amani residents identified reckless driving as a major concern in a recent survey, and the project’s goal is to educate residents on how to advocate for traffic-calming initiatives through grassroots organizing and increased civic engagement.

In the Metcalfe Park neighborhood, the selected projects include:

  • Activating Green Spaces, led by Artists Working in Education with Imagine MKE, Jewish Community Center, Metcalfe Park Community Bridges, Milwaukee Repertory Theater and Running Rebels. The project aims to increase safe public green spaces, decrease urban blight and address environmental concerns in Metcalfe Park by redesigning the neighborhood’s parks and empty lots, implementing community-created art structures, preventing illegal dumping on empty lots, and more.
  • Civil Rights Revisited, led by Wisconsin Black Historical Society in partnership with Metcalfe Park Community Bridges, Running Rebels and Wisconsin Voices. Together, by educating youth about Civil Rights history and providing advocacy training to residents with a particular focus on housing, social, and environmental justice issues, the organizations aim to increase civic engagement.

In the Muskego Way neighborhood, the selected projects include:

  • Community Green Lounge, led by Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers in partnership with Imagine MKE, Milwaukee Christian Center and Safe & Sound. The project will transform a vacant lot into a community green lounge and activate a series of café-style workshops to engage and educate residents about common community issues, such as healthy soil, mental health, green spaces, connecting youth to impactful programming, and more.
  • Resident-Led Arts and Culture Activations in Green Spaces, led by Imagine MKE with collaborative partners Data You Can Use, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Christian Center, Milwaukee Film, Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Together, the organizations aim to contribute to the positive image of Muskego Way through the creation of public art, transforming vacant lots into community green spaces, and engaging residents to activate community-led arts and culture programs.

Since 2013, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, has invested nearly $15 million in Milwaukee’s Amani, Metcalfe Park and Muskego Way neighborhoods, the company says. Last year, Northwestern Mutual donated  $1.9 million to support 33 nonprofits that contribute to revitalization in those neighborhoods.

Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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