Zilber Family Foundation awards $5.4 million in grants to 31 local nonprofits

In support of affordable housing initiatives, community services and more

Gina Stilp, executive director of Zilber Family Foundation

The Zilber Family Foundation has awarded $5.4 million in grants to 31 nonprofit organizations in Milwaukee.

Of that total, $2.7 million support affordable housing, a key focus in the Milwaukee-based foundation’s current plans. Fourteen of the grants target new or expanded initiatives addressing Milwaukee’s social, economic and racial inequities.

Eighteen of the grants target the city’s Lindsay Heights, Clarke Square and Layton Boulevard West neighborhoods, where the foundation has directed much of its investment over the past 10 years through the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative. These grants support community-based organizations in efforts to increase access to quality, affordable housing; provide financial education and skill building opportunities; develop minority-owned small businesses; and build the capacity and effectiveness of residents and nonprofits leading the work. Additionally, the grants will increase access to a range of services to support higher education, youth development and the immediate needs of unhoused individuals.

“Our board and staff believe that this kind of broad-based collaboration is crucial to developing potential solutions to the urgent needs of our city and neighborhoods,” said Gina Stilp, executive director at the Zilber Family Foundation. “We are motivated by these important efforts that seek to increase homeownership, health and wellbeing, and wealth, especially in Milwaukee’s Black and Hispanic communities. We can make a difference when we work together.”

The foundation was formed in 1961 as a private grant-making institution by the late real estate developer Joseph Zilber. Over the past few years, the foundation has gifted $51.5 million through grants and other charitable activities. That includes recent grants of $1.7 million to 19 nonprofits in May 2021 and $1.8 million in grants to 16 nonprofit organizations, including 11 in the Milwaukee area, in January 2021. A complete list of the foundation’s 2022 grantees is available here.

Grants announced this week were awarded to the following organizations:

  • Acts Housing to develop Milwaukee’s Acquisition for Homeownership Initiative, a new strategic acquisition fund for affordable homeownership in partnership with the Community Development Alliance; and to support home purchase and rehab loans for individuals and families in ZNI neighborhoods.
  • Aurora Zilber Family Hospice to provide general operating support for the provision of end-of-life care at the Aurora Zilber Family Hospice.
  • Black Leaders Organizing Communities to support its nonpartisan civic engagement program, leadership development and wellness resources for staff.
  • Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative to serve as lead agency in Clarke Square, and implement community economic development, housing, and arts and culture action plans in partnership with residents and stakeholders.
  • Community Connections Small Grants Program to provide small grants for resident-led projects in ZNI and other Milwaukee neighborhoods.
  • Community Development Alliance to support the Community Development Alliance to act as the coordinating entity to implement Milwaukee’s Collective Affordable Housing Plan and support continuous communication across housing funders and implementers.
  • Friendship Inc. to support a safe, healthy, educational, social and recreational environment for those and their families who are recovering from alcoholism and other drug addictions.
  • Frameworks Institute to support the African American Leadership Alliance of Milwaukee to increase and retain the number of African Americans in leadership roles in private, nonprofit and public sectors in Milwaukee.
  • Forward Community Investments to address the underrepresentation of Latinos in the real estate industry by launching the Hispanic Emerging Developer Fund in partnership with the Hispanic Collaborative.
  • Hispanic Collaborative to support the expansion of Mercado MKE, a free online marketplace and e-commerce site to additional small businesses from ZNI neighborhoods.
  • Housing Resources, Inc. to support down payment assistance for individuals and families to purchase homes in the ZNI neighborhoods.
  • Imagine MKE to activate commercial corridors in Clarke Square and Layton Boulevard West through art installations, events and cultural branding of business districts.
  • Legal Aid Society to support free civil legal services to residents and small business owners in the Clarke Square and Layton Boulevard West neighborhoods.
  • LISC Milwaukee to support coaching to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and commercial property owners in Lindsay Heights, Clarke Square, and near downtown neighborhoods.
  • Mental Health Emergency Center to support start-up costs and professional and medical education programs at the newly constructed Mental Health Emergency Center.
  • Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council to provide technical assistance to nonprofit organizations focused on affordable homeownership in ZNI and other Milwaukee neighborhoods.
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College to support student retention in an effort to build a diverse, skilled workforce for the Milwaukee area through the MATC Retention Grant program.
  • Milwaukee Black Grassroots Network for Health Equity to support startup costs for the MKE Black Grassroots Network for Health Equity, a collection of Black leaders and organizations building partnerships and capacity in Milwaukee to address barriers that prevent Black people from being healthy.
  • Milwaukee Community Land Trust to support the development of permanently affordable homeownership in Lindsay Heights.
  • Neu-Life Community Development to support pre-development costs for the NeuVue development.
  • Nonprofit Management Fund to support the Nonprofit Management Fund’s efforts to build nonprofit organizational effectiveness.
  • Running Rebels Community Organization to support capital improvements at Running Rebels Central in Lindsay Heights.
  • Serenity Inns to support programs for men in recovery from addiction and alcoholism.
  • TransCenter for Youth to support the Escuela Verde Newline Community Café in Layton Boulevard, and the construction of a mobile coffee cart to serve the community.
  • United Community Center to support increased capacity for homebuyer education and counseling services for individuals and families purchasing homes in Clarke Square, Layton Boulevard West and other Milwaukee neighborhoods.
  • Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin to provide technical assistance to nonprofits working on housing and community economic development.
  • VIA CDC to provide direct assistance to small businesses and homeowners, improve property conditions along National Avenue, pay down debt on a commercial property and improve VIA’s financial stability.
  • Walnut Way Conservation Corporation to support the conversion of two vacant lots into parking for the Innovation & Wellness Commons in Lindsay Heights.
  • Wisconsin Philanthropy Network to support the regional grantmakers association that works to promote effective philanthropy in Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin Voices to support voter education and outreach in Milwaukee.

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Maredithe Meyer covers restaurants, retail, tourism, and sports and entertainment. She joined BizTimes in 2015, previously as an intern reporter. She earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University in 2017. When she's not on the job, Maredithe coaches field hockey and loves exploring her favorite city on earth, Milwaukee.

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