December 1, 2022

Forward Thinking FCI’s Quarterly Newsletter Winter Edition Now Available!

Announcement, Partner Highlight

forward community investments quarterly newsletter cover

Welcome to Forward Thinking

You’re receiving this because you’re a partner, client, community leader, neighbor, investor, or stakeholder working to make Wisconsin a more equitable place to live, work, and grow. If you have a story to feature, an opportunity, or an important deadline, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at and our team will follow up. 
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Moving Forward – Project Updates from Around Wisconsin

United Methodist Children’s Services (UMCS) strives to make significant differences in the lives of children and families in Milwaukee’s Washington Park Neighborhood.

On any given Saturday or Sunday morning, residents of UMCS’s properties at 3940 West Lisbon Avenue in Milwaukee are likely to see a familiar face picking up trash around the building. UMCS staff like to joke with Executive Director Bill Schmitt that picking up trash is his favorite thing to do.

“Well, I live close by. I am usually on my way somewhere on my bike and like to swing by to check on things.” States Bill Schmitt. “And if you see a little trash on the ground, you can’t just ride past it. You gotta pick it up.” Continues Schmitt.

This is the type of dedication and commitment that is commonplace at UMCS and why Forward Community Investments (FCI) is proud to call them a partner while providing patient capital and resources so they can address the needs of low-income families living in poverty in the Washington Park neighborhood.


Moving Forward – Impacts of FCI’s Work Throughout 2021


Moving Forward – FCI Welcomes Two New Team Members

Allen Houston brings his talents to FCI in fulfilling our newly created Staff Accountant position. FCI’s continued success allows us to expand our finance department and we are happy to have Allen join our team. Allen will work closely with our Controller, Becky Bains, and Accounting Assistant, Jinko Naganuma, on a variety of accounting and bookkeeping duties focused on FCI’s assets.

Fausto E. Rivera joins FCI as our Community Lender. In this position he will work with borrowers throughout all stages of the financing process from assisting with applications, assessing the viability of borrowers, conducting financial analyses, reviewing documents for loan approval, and presenting proposals to FCI’s lending committee.

Paying it Forward – Grant Giving Updates

FCI earns a $500,000 grant from Otto Bremer Trust

FCI is thrilled to share they have received a $500,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Trust with the purpose of re-granting those funds to Wisconsin nonprofit organizations addressing issues of health equity.

Working with the Otto Bremer Trust, the focus of these grants will provide much-needed funds to mission-driven nonprofits working on the issues of health equity which could include expanding access to affordable housing, early childhood education, workforce training, and health services while revitalizing neighborhoods and rural communities. This award will allow FCI to provide some of the largest grants ever awarded in its 27-year history.
To read a complete list of awardees,

2021 Nan Cheney March for Justice Awards Ceremony Playback Available

I cannot share with you enough how thrilled my colleagues and I from FCI were to honor the tireless work to improve the lives of Wisconsin tribal members that Fern Orie exhibits each and every day! It was also my pleasure to put together this event for you all to hear more about her passions, her work, the AMAZING tribal blessings from Andy Laverdure, the Honor Song that was performed by the Grindstone Lake Singers and so much more.

Pressing Forward – FCI Partners in the News

Have you heard of OWN IT – Building Black Wealth? Well, you should!

FCI provides fiscal sponsorship for this innovative initiative designed to address and work towards eliminating substantial barriers to wealth and homeownership for Black families in the Greater Madison area. The program does so by providing two key elements: an educational program and access to $15,000 for down payment funds with fewer restrictions, like income limits, and unnecessary hurdles, like additional contingencies. Grants are awarded to families, staff, and alumni at One City Schools who complete the financial literacy and homeownership courses.

A unique aspect of this program is that it comes from the private sector, a network of Madison-area professionals in the real estate, banking, financial industries that are ready for change. They have joined together in pursuit of a common goal – to empower, educate, and guide communities of color towards homeownership, wealth, and financial freedom. They acknowledge the systemic racism embedded within financial systems, practices, and policies, and are committed to exposing and eradicating these structural barriers.

So far, OWN IT has raised over $350,000 and is looking forward to providing at least 23 families with a down payment assistant grant in the spring of 2022. As the fiscal sponsor of this groundbreaking organization, FCI is taking donations to ensure that all contributions are tax-deductible. To read more about OWN IT and contribute, click here.

FCI borrower, the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center (MYAC) hosted the Second Gentleman of the United States, Mr. Doug Emhoff, on January 24th at their newly renovated arts center at 325 W. Walnut St. During his visit he convened a listening session with MYAC’s Student Advisory Board and spoke about the arts center’s ability to stay open throughout the pandemic and how the students felt like it was a “second home” and a “safe haven” for them during that time. MYAC is the product of a unique collaboration with the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra and First Stage who according to a White House spokesperson both received a Shuttered Venue Grant from the SBA during his visit. In addition to the listening session and grant announcement, Executive Director, Del Wilson provided the Second Gentleman with a tour of the newly expanded arts center that FCI helped finance. Click here to read more.

America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee is planning to open in February after closing its doors more than a decade ago, thanks in part to a new $10 million grant. This commitment made by an anonymous donor through the Greater Milwaukee Foundation will help the museum hire staff, finish the last three exhibits and purchase an additional building for educational space, said Dr. Robert (Bert) Davis, president, and CEO of the museum. FCI partnered with Melissa Goins of Mauers Development to redevelop the property that houses the current location of the museum. Click here to read more.

Congratulations Operation Fresh Start for receiving a grant from the Otto Bremer Trust. This $65,000 grant will be utilized for general operations to provide education, mentoring, and employment training opportunities for young adults. Operation Fresh Start was originally a borrower of FCI and then became an investor in FCI. Click here to read more. Keep up the great work!

Pushing Forward – Opportunities for Partnership

Forward Community Investments is always looking for opportunities to work with and provide financing to nonprofits and current partners who are making an impact in reducing racial and economic disparities in Wisconsin. If you are interested in learning more about our financial products please visit our Lending Products page here for further information, or if you have a project you would like to discuss please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

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Become an FCI Borrower

Read more about how to become an FCI borrower and how we work to direct our funds so as to help eradicate socioeconomic and racial inequities across the state.
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