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Small grants help fuel big dreams

Three of Milwaukee's biggest foundations are about to announce their first ever Community Connections Small Grants Program recipients. Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Northwestern Mutual Foundation and Zilber Family Foundation created this program to support resident-led projects in neighborhoods around Milwaukee.


"For so long, foundations went into neighborhoods thinking we know what they need," says Darlene Russell from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. "This is a way for them to say, THESE are the programs we think will support the quality of life in our neighborhoods." The CCSG Program has involved people in those neighborhoods every step of the way. Information sessions were held at various community centers around the city, guiding folks through the application process.


Applications were reviewed by the three foundations and by a resident review committee that went through a 10-month neighborhood leadership-training program. One of the main requirements of the program is neighborhood participation. Groups that receive these $500 grants will secure matching donations, totally at lease 50% of the grant. Matching donations aren't only dollar-for-dollar, they can come from volunteer hours or goods donated by peers.


The first cycle of grants are going out to a diverse group of projects, from installing neighborhood rain barrels to a pottery class for kids. To learn more about applying for the second cycle of grants, visit their site online at

Community Connections project recipients and their neighborhoods include:

  • Tree of Life Earthworks (Clarke Square)
  • Stand Up and Stand Out Day Block Party (Sherman Park)
  • Overflowing Life for Harambee (Sherman Park)
  • Tower Hill Curb Appeal Beautification (Tower Hill)
  • Gravitate to Greatness Talent Show and School Supply Giveaway (Washington Park)
  • Metcalfe Park Selfies (Metcalfe Park)
  • Walnut Hill Community Garden Project (Walnut Hill)
  • South Harambee Alley Clean-Up (Harambee)
  • Eye on Beauty (Sherman Park)
  • Healthy Cooking Classes (Layton Boulevard)
  • Page Turners (Lindsay Heights)
  • Clinton & Bernice Rose Park Celebration (Harambee)
  • Project Alley Watch (Grasslyn Manor)
Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee