Contact: Kristin Paltzer, on behalf of the Helen Bader Foundation
Helen Bader Foundation Awards More Than $400,000 in Grants to Summer Programs Serving Milwaukee Youth
Milwaukee – May 1, 2014 – The Helen Bader Foundation (HBF), one of the top philanthropic foundations in Milwaukee, announced today that its board of directors has approved $407,000 in funding in support of 18 community organizations serving low-income youth in Milwaukee. The new youth grants are part of more than $2.5 million allocated by the HBF board in support of various projects in Wisconsin, the U.S., and internationally. Since 1999, HBF has committed more than $14 million in grants to programs that serve youth in the city.
According to the United States Census Bureau, 27 percent of Milwaukee’s population is under the age of 18. In addition, 20 percent of families in the city are living under the poverty line, limiting the access that young people in the community have to positive influences outside of school times, including access to nature, as well as employment opportunities.
“With the end of the school year quickly approaching, we know that young people in our community are most susceptible to negative influences during times when they are not in school or working, said Mary Osmundsen, Community Partnerships for Youth program officer for HBF. “We are encouraged by the commitment of our partners in the community to work with and encourage young people to reach their highest potential, and we are proud to support their vital work.”
Many of the recently approved grants focus on the need to create and provide accessible summer programming for children and their families. Beyond just traditional programming like summer camps and reading programs, HBF and its partners are working together to engage and empower young people as ambassadors for their communities. The following grants are examples of that work.
Neighborhood House of Milwaukee, Inc. (NHM); an organization that is committed to building a strong community by strengthening individuals, families, and the neighborhood, is receiving a $20,000 grant from HBF. The grant will be used to support NHM’s ten-week Lead & Learn Nature Camp for City Kids.
Many of the program participants primarily live in rental housing located in areas with limited access to green space, as well as significant safety issues such as violent crime. HBF’s grant will provide opportunities for 304 low-income youth to learn and model responsible behavior outdoors by providing a safe framework for participants to learn about and explore nature.
In addition to the Nature Camp, four students will be selected to participate as Lead & Learn paid interns. The selected students will participate in an intensive two-week environmental stewardship training program. Once completed, this group will serve as mentors and leaders and will help to implement the remaining eight-weeks of nature camp programming for the additional 300 participants, ages 3 – 13.
“For more than 65 years, Neighborhood House has been working to build stronger communities and engaging our youth continues to be one of our top priorities,” said Niki Espy, lead environmental educator for NHM. “Funding from the Helen Bader Foundation gives us the ability expose young people to opportunities and experiences that they may normally not have easy access to.”
River Revitalization Foundation, Inc. (RRF), which advocates for environmental conservation, public access and sensitive recreation in metro-Milwaukee’s river watersheds, is receiving $25,000 to support its summer ecological crew. Through this program, RRF seeks to address the disconnect between urban youth and nature, while also providing opportunities for young people to develop job skills.
In partnership with HBF and the City of Milwaukee’s Earn & Learn program, the funding will be used to employ and engage 10 – 12 urban youth, ages 14 – 18. Over the course of the 8-week program, the youth crew will be trained on plant identification, tree planting, stewardship of natural resources and behavioral impacts on the watershed. The teens will also conduct ecological restoration projects along the Milwaukee River, including removal of invasive species, native vegetation planting and trail maintenance.
Learning is incorporated through the use of RiverQuest, a student-developed publication that provides trail guides, stories and hand-drawn plant species diagrams. Earn & Learn participants use RiverQuest to lead hikes for younger youth along the riverfront trails.
“Nature and our riverways are for everyone, regardless of age, race or economic status,” said Kimberly Gleffe, executive director of RRF. “Our youth are the future leaders of our community, so it’s important that we engage them and empower them to revitalize the communities in which we live.”
About the Helen Bader Foundation
Milwaukee-based Helen Bader Foundation, Inc. is a philanthropic leader in improving the quality of life of the diverse communities in which it works. The Foundation supports innovative projects and programs through grants, convening partners, and sharing knowledge to affect emerging issues in key areas. Awarding an average of $10 million annually, the Foundation has an emphasis on youth, aging and workforce development for at risk populations. The Foundation has awarded more than $225 million in grants and $15 million in Program Related Investments such as loans and equity investments since 1992. For more information on the Foundation, visit www.hbf.org.