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2018 Game Changer Awardees

December 20, 2018

conNEXTions guides underrepresented young adults between the ages of 18 to 29 in the Madison community to achieve their goals by increasing their financial knowledge, building their social capital and connecting them with the community. They accomplish this by providing mentoring opportunities with professionals that have expertise in the young adults’ career interests and workshops. 

November 30, 2018

provides free legal representation to students facing expulsion in the Madison Metropolitan School District. Starting in the 2015-16 school year, StEPP expanded to offer service to students in all Dane County school districts.

Attorney Puck Tsai of Pemberton & Englund Law Offices, LLC and StEPP volunteer says, “We want to make sure children in the school system are safe, but at the same time we have to balance that interest with deciding if it is appropriate to suspend a child for a long time or expel them.”

October 25, 2018

Fresh Start Learning, located in Milwaukee, works to rebuild lives, strengthen families and advocate on behalf of their client base: victims of human trafficking and domestic violence.

Their holistic approach helps clients – primarily women – achieve doable goals, one step at a time. Through Feet on the Street outreach, the Sisters of Survival crew meets with clients where they are, on the street. They offer a friendly smile and a Purpose-Filled Purse filled with personal care items and a handwritten letter of love to let women know that help is waiting for them when they are ready to become survivors.

September 20, 2018

As a means of giving a voice to Wisconsin’s Muslim community, the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition launched the Wisconsin Muslim Journal in February of 2018. The Journal serves as our state’s Muslim community newspaper and is the first media organization that reports news and information about the Muslim community in Wisconsin. In that context, it also has a goal of connecting Wisconsin’s Muslim population with other faiths and spiritual groups around the state.

The Coalition is all about recognizing that empowered women – whether it’s through money or information or both – give strength to their families and communities.

August 23, 2018

Black Youth Alliance - WI is an afterschool program started in 2017 with a mission of teaching Black history and culture to Black youth in three schools in the Green Bay School District.

“With the ability to teach Black history, developing Black culture and teaching healthy relationship skills we are able to support Black youth with information that sets a tone for a lifetime of healthier decision making,” states Robin Tinnon, Black Youth Alliance - WI’s Prevention Coordinator and Program Manager.

July 20, 2018

YES! is a program focused on Madison’s Northside that will work with youth of color to help mitigate violence in nearby neighborhoods. At the same time, it’s expected that YES! will create new pathways that allow for greater community engagement. This program is a partnership with the City of Madison and UW-Madison’s Pre-College Program that will span the summers of 2018 and 2019.

“Youth will participate in trainings that incorporate mindfulness, conflict resolution, relationship building, strategic planning, project management, business development, fund development, social media management and event programming.” states Eric S. Upchurch, Chief Visionary at Opportunity Inc. which is one of the partnering organizations of YES!.

June 20, 2018

Project RETURN – Returning Ex-Offenders To Urban Realities and Neighborhoods – is a Milwaukee-based organization working to give second lives to returning citizens, post-incarceration. Project RETURN provides men and women with employment assistance, alcohol and drug abuse treatment, individual and group counseling, housing referrals and a wide array of other services. Their goal is to offer returning citizens a chance to make a positive and permanent return to their community, family and friends.

“Milwaukee is the worst city in the nation as far as poverty goes. When our clients return from the prison system, they are looking for resources but struggle to find them,” says Brian Osei Project RETURN’s Community Organizer.

Project RETURN offers many programs including a Re-Entry Employment Program, Fatherhood Initiative, Jobs Task Force, Changes Support Groups and Alumni Group.

May 29, 2018

Lussier Community Education Center (LCEC) is this month’s Game Changer Grant recipient. LCEC’s Youth Action Summer Internship (YASI), led by Daniel Steinbring, takes 13 high school students – most of them persons of color – through an 8-week intensive course in which they learn about different social issues and how to take action on them. According to Julieta, a 3-year member of YASI, “The Youth Action Summer Internship program is a safe space. Everything we say there, stays there. We respect each other, love each other and care for one another.”

Not only does YASI provide a safe space for students to learn from each other, it also provides them with an opportunity to travel to Washington DC and learn about life outside of their Madison backyard. While in DC, they have a chance to visit the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Sophie, a 3-year member of YASI said, “Visiting the museum was very interesting. It gave me a lot of knowledge on things that are not taught in school.”

April 19, 2018

Safe & Sound is a Milwaukee-based organization dedicated to creating safe neighborhoods via the power of communication. Their Face to Face workshops engage community residents, youth and law enforcement officers for the purpose of whittling away at the barriers caused by racial stereotyping.
Face to Face was initially created to work with youth but its success led Safe & Sound to add adults to the mix of voices. Previous workshop participants include Mayor Tom Barret, members of the Milwaukee Bucks, multiple levels of law enforcement and residents from various Milwaukee communities.

Arts@Large is the recipient of FCI’s Game Changer Grant for March

March 22, 2018

Milwaukee-based Arts@Large is a dynamic educational organization that connects arts to academic learning and social justice for nearly 10,000 Milwaukee Public School students. Teri Sullivan, Founder and CEO, says, “Arts&Large is committed to bringing the arts and making it accessible to every student in the Greater Milwaukee community.”

In 2017, Arts&Large started the Fabric of Milwaukee, a peacemaking initiative that focuses on Milwaukee’s growing immigrant and refugee student population. At numbers reaching 8,000 in the Milwaukee Public Schools, these students often report experiences of bullying, harassment and depression.

The Fabric of Milwaukee 10-week initiative provides students with opportunities to celebrate cultures and honor the diversity in Milwaukee’s schools. It gives young immigrants and refugees a chance to network with peers outside of the classroom and build systems of support that displace feelings of being alone in a new country.

MultiCultural Outreach Program receives Forward Community Investment’s Game Changer grant for February!

February 16, 2018

Southwest Wisconsin's immigrant population has risen sharply in the last decade as dairy farms, cheese factories and small manufacturing plants have turned to immigrant workers to meet their unmet employee needs. These new neighbors work hard and provide cultural diversity to the rural communities of Grant, Iowa, Lafayette and Richland counties. At the same time, these immigrants, like their neighbors, need help accessing basic social and legal services.

This is where the MultiCultural Outreach Program (MCOP) steps in as an innovative link between families, local schools, government agencies, farmers, employers, landlords, medical providers, churches and other community groups.

CUPED Corporation is awarded the January Game Changer Grant

January 23, 2018

Cultivating Urban Plans & Economic Development (CUPED) Corporation is the brainchild of its founding member and president of Maures Development Group, Melissa Goins. Based in Milwaukee, CUPED is a community-driven nonprofit dedicated to promoting development in urban Milwaukee neighborhoods that have been ignored by mainstream capital resources. CUPED is committed to bringing back the pride, hope and love needed for these neighborhoods to regain their economic mojo.

CUPED’s current project involves the redevelopment of the former Reader’s Choice bookstore, the last Black-owned bookstore in Wisconsin. After serving the Milwaukee community for more than 28 years, Reader’s Choice closed in July 2017 and, soon after, CUPED purchased the building with the intent of re-creating a robust community space.

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