Your Guide to Giving Back in Milwaukee This Year

’Tis the season of giving! These organizations need your support to continue their important work.

Illustration by Getty Images

Once again this year, Milwaukee Magazine has partnered with Wisconsin Philanthropy Network to help spread the word about the important work these organizations are doing. We hope that these stories will inspire you to get involved, whether as a volunteer or with a donation – or both. Read about them here, and tune into our Facebook page on weekdays at noon for a series of livestreams featuring one organization each weekday through Dec. 15.

Some people like to say, “Give ’til it hurts.” Our motto here is, “Give ’til it feels good!” So please, open your hearts this season and give, give, give!

Dear Readers,


As our community continues to adjust to the pandemic, a renewed focus on equity and the toll of continuing natural disasters, one constant has never wavered: the impact of our nonprofit sector addressing these issues. Nonprofits, supported by philanthropy, have shown a resilience that helps enhance our communities in these challenging times.


And despite the importance of their work, we also know that nonprofits are facing great financial constraints. Because giving matters now more than ever, Wisconsin Philanthropy Network is proud to partner with Milwaukee Magazine on this Give Back Milwaukee campaign.


Please enjoy learning about the magnificent work taking place in our nonprofit community, and thank you for giving generously.



Tony Shields

President and CEO

Wisconsin Philanthropy Network

Photo courtesy of the MACC Fund

Funding Life-Saving Research


Find out more on the MilMag Facebook livestream on Dec. 15 at noon. 

When Becky Pinter, the current president of the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund, first volunteered to help the organization, she didn’t know what they did. She was a high school student, and a friend’s father who worked with the MACC Fund asked her to help.

“I was brought up to help and volunteer if I could,” Pinter says.

When she went to the fundraiser, she learned more about the Fund’s mission and realized how important it was.

The MACC Fund raises money for childhood cancer research – specifically for research hospitals in Wisconsin – with the eventual goal of finding a cure for childhood cancer and related blood disorders. The money helps fund innovative clinical trials and more.

The impact of such research has been massive in recent decades, as evidenced by the five-year survival rate for childhood cancers. When the MACC Fund was founded in 1976, the rate was 20%. It’s now over 80%, and some forms of leukemia are over 90%.

“The research doesn’t just stay in Southeastern Wisconsin,” Pinter says. “The entire world benefits from the excellent research we fund. A new medication found at Children’s [Wisconsin] can be used everywhere.”

After graduating from college, Pinter joined the the Women for MACC board, and when the position of president and CEO of the fund opened in 2007, she won the job. In the years since, she’s helped raise millions for childhood cancer research.

In 2019, the fund committed to give $25 million to Children’s Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin and $10 million to the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center.

“It’s such a blessing [for families] to see children be able to go to school, to go to homecoming, to graduate, to go to college, to get married, to have a family of their own,” Pinter says. “So many have been able to experience that because of what the MACC Fund has done, and the money that we’ve raised.”

What We Do:

  • The MACC Fund raises money for research on childhood cancer and related blood disorders, with the goal of finding a cure for childhood cancer.
  • Over 45 years, the fund has contributed over $70 million to childhood cancer research.

Where Your Money Goes:

  • 83% of all money raised by the MACC Fund goes directly to childhood cancer research. 25% of the MACC Fund’s annual income comes from individual and corporate donations, while 75% comes from fundraising events.

10000 W. Innovation Dr.,
Suite 135

Photo courtesy of Outreach Community Health Centers

Caring for Those in Need


Find out more on the MilMag Facebook livestream on Dec. 13 at noon. 

From December 2019 to December 2020, Children’s Wisconsin saw an 80% increase in referrals for outpatient mental health services. This is just one indicator of the toll on mental health that the COVID-19 pandemic, and its consequent stay-at-home orders and virtual schooling, has had on young people in Milwaukee.

“When you’re working with a youth, you’re not just working with the youth,” says Crystal Simpson, the behavioral health clinic manager at Outreach Community Health Centers. “It takes a village.”

Outreach is one of only three Wisconsin providers of Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT), an intensive family therapy which requires extensive training, and is proven to reduce depression, anxiety and substance abuse while also increasing school attendance. Using this method, therapists work not only with the young person, but also with the adults who care about them – family members and others, like coaches, case managers and school counselors. The goal is to work closely with loved ones to support the young person, who over a six month period receives two or three therapy sessions a week. “It is very effective, but costly because much of the activity required is not billable through most insurance,” says Greg Schoeneck, the supervisor of Outreach’s Youth and Family team. By providing comprehensive therapy to the whole family unit, “we’re more effective than out-of-home placement for substance abuse,” he says, “because typically they need more support [after returning home].”

As a Federally Qualified Health Center, Outreach runs many programs beyond MDFT. It offers accessible and affordable medical care, dental services and behavioral health treatment for Milwaukeeans regardless of their insurance status, including the city’s homeless population. Outreach also invests in health education to promote screenings and vaccinations. And its work branches out to other projects, such as a recent partnership with Messmer High School to create a series of videos sharing strategies for coping with anxiety. “Our goal is always ‘How can we support individuals in the community?’” Schoeneck says.

What We Do:

  • Outreach Community Health Centers provides medical, dental, pharmacy, behavioral and community services such as transportation vouchers, household furnishings and food, to people lacking adequate health insurance, including the homeless.
  • Outreach helps pregnant women by ensuring they have access to medical care, appropriate supplies and equipment, safe housing and the emotional support they need to deliver healthy babies.

Where Your Money Goes:

  • Outreach does not turn away anyone seeking services, regardless of their ability to pay. The organization relies on private donations and grant money to provide services at low cost or free of charge.

210 W. Capitol Dr.

Photo courtesy of Catholic Charities

Serving the Community


Find out more on the MilMag Facebook livestream on Dec. 14 at noon. 

No two days for Catholic Charities case manager Tedricka Frazier are the same.

“I get calls all day long with different crises for me to solve,” she says. “Any call we get, we try to solve it.” It might be texting a client job leads, dropping off toiletries donations or setting someone up in an apartment.

As a case manager, Frazier is dealing with the wide variety of charitable services the organization provides to the underprivileged in Southeastern Wisconsin.

One of her cases this past year was a woman who lost her home.

“I helped her look for a house,” Frazier says. “With funding, we were able to get the security deposit and first month’s rent [along with furnishings and toiletries]. We were able to knock down that barrier. Now she has the resources she needs to stay in that home.”

Catholic Charities will also help those in need of housing by providing Goodwill vouchers for clothing and household items. Most of the clients Frazier sees “have completely nothing,” she says. “They’re starting over.” She often works with her clients for a year or more. Catholic Charities also offers them therapy, and by partnering with a Spanish-speaking therapist, it reaches more members of the communities it serves.

Another pressing need Catholic Charities is working to address is the rising depression rates among the elderly. “Sometimes they just want a phone call, just to talk,” Frazier says.

For seniors who struggle with dementia – or adults who are 50 years of age or older and cannot live independently – the Adult Day Center is a valuable resource.

“They come and socialize and engage with their peers throughout the day,” says the center’s director, Annette Jankowski. “They’re in a safe haven throughout the day and able to use their mind and their body.”

This also allows family members and caregivers to work during the day. Nursing assistants help with medication management and bathing, and meals are provided in what Jankowski calls “a family-type environment.” And an annual holiday party includes a visiting Santa and gift-wrapped presents “to brighten their Christmas.”

What We Do:

  • Catholic Charities’ mission is to assist people affected by poverty, provide culturally competent social services and advocate for justice.
  • The organization provides services in 10 counties in Southeastern Wisconsin
  • It works with many individuals and families, including pregnant women, new moms, parents with intellectual disabilities, seniors with disabilities, refugees and people experiencing emotional or financial crisis.

Where Your Money Goes:

  • Donations are used to fund Catholic Charities’ many programs, including the Adult Day Center, in-home support for seniors, mental health counseling for people without access to other resources, outreach and case management as well as humanitarian aid for Afghan refugees.

P.O. Box 070912


Photo courtesy of GPS Education Partners

Work-Based Learning for the Future


Find out more on the MilMag Facebook livestream on Dec. 8 at noon. 

Sameria Norrington was a junior at Wauwatosa West High School when a guidance counselor told her about GPS Education Partners. She was interested in a career in the trades, and GPSEd’s Manufacturing Youth Apprenticeship Program offered her the chance to work directly with local companies and learn skills on site that she never could have learned in a traditional classroom. It was the perfect fit.

Her senior year, Norrington spent half of her days in a classroom at a GPSEd Education Center, and then spent the other half at manufacturing companies like Bradley Corp. and Danfoss. She learned welding, woodworking and other skills, and when she graduated, Danfoss offered her a full-time job.

Three years later, Norrington still works in manufacturing and recently formed an LLC to start a farming business. She attributes much of her success to GPSEd. “My teachers were the best teachers in the world,” she says. “They’re super supportive. They give you a lot of love, and they will not let you fail.”

GPSEd’s model has been gaining more attention in recent years. Last year, in partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools, GPSEd launched an early career awareness program pilot that gave freshmen a chance to see what a career in manufacturing could look like. There are now plans to build more programs for other fields, like IT and hospitality. “Milwaukee is seeing the need

for talent to be developed in these careers,” says Laura Derpinghaus, the director of communications for GPSEd.

GPSEd’s success has also drawn attention outside Wisconsin. In 2020, it worked with the DuPage County Regional Office of Education in Illinois to design a pilot program. And GPSEd received a request for a similar program from the Anoka-Hennepin school system in Minnesota and launched another pilot.

“Our Manufacturing Youth Apprenticeship Program really opens students’ eyes to the possibilities,” Derpinghaus says.

“Sameria knew traditional high school wasn’t working for her. She had a vision for herself and she saw this opportunity and took full advantage of it. There are great jobs out there that do not require a four-year college degree, and getting to test drive them through a work-based learning program is a win-win for both students and employers.”

What We Do:

  • GPS Education Partners trains high school students for careers in the trade and technical fields.
  • GPSEd’s Manufacturing Youth Apprenticeship Program partners students with manufacturing companies for on-site learning that prepares them for success in their careers.

Where Your Money Goes:

  • Donations support work-based learning programs for underprivileged students by helping cover program and credentialing fees, technology costs, mentor training and more.
  • Funds also support GPSEd’s learning experiences for younger students, which provide classes, experiences and workshops to promote early career awareness in multiple fields.

20633 Watertown Ct.,
Suite 202, Waukesha

Photo courtesy of Humane Animal Welfare Society

Caring for Animals


Find out more on the MilMag Facebook livestream on Dec. 7 at noon. 

Hannah, a stray pit bull, wandered in the Waukesha area for over a year without a home. After receiving a call about the stray, the Animal Rescue Team at the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County went out to find Hannah and eventually brought her safely into the shelter. HAWS provided much-needed medical care and rest, and after a few months, Hannah was adopted by a local family, the Van Beeks.

“She turned into an incredible breed ambassador for pit bulls” says Maggie Tate-Techtmann, the director of organizational development at HAWS.

Hannah became a certified therapy dog, and the Van Beek family brought her to Read for Rover programs, where children learned literacy skills by reading to her. When Hannah died in 2019, her family dedicated a donation in her memory to HAWS. The money was used to fund Hannah’s Haven, a new literacy program for young children at HAWS’ newly built Schallock Center for Animals in Delafield.

Photo courtesy of Humane Animal Welfare Society

“Hannah made such an impact on so many kids and adults,” Tate-Techtmann says. “Hannah’s Haven is a wonderful program – it’s great for kids to work on their reading skills, and great socialization and engagement for our shelter dogs.”

Tate-Techtmann first became involved in HAWS as a pet owner herself. She brought her dog to the shelter to participate in some behavioral programs.

“I fell in love with the organization and its mission,” she says, and in 2018, she joined the staff.

At the time they were preparing to build the Schallock Center, which opened in March of this year. The center was made possible by Mike and Jane Schallock, who donated their 77-acre farm to HAWS. Tate-Techtmann says the new center has greatly broadened HAWS’ humane education programs, allowing for camps, field trips and classes at the expansive facility. The open-admission, no-kill shelter continues to support thousands of pets like Hannah each year.

“We are working very hard to fulfill and honor Mike and Jane Schallock’s vision for the property,” Tate-Techtmann says. “Like Mike would always say to us – it’s all about the animals.”

What We Do:

  • The Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County supports more than 10,000 animals in the Waukesha area every year by providing shelter and adoption.
  • HAWS offers educational programs to teach children about animal welfare, as well as behavioral training programs for pets.

Where Your Money Goes:

  • Donations to HAWS support medical and behavioral care and sheltering costs for the animals, and emergency pet boarding for families in crisis.
  • You can direct donations specifically to HAWS’ educational funds to support the humane education programs for children.

701 Northview Rd.,

Photo courtesy of the International Institute of Wisconsin

Finding a New Home


Find out more on the MilMag Facebook livestream on Dec. 9 at noon. 

In 2019, Lucien Masudi was living in the African nation of Burundi. His family were Congolese refugees, fleeing violence in their home. The United Nations Refugee Agency offered them the chance to move to America, but they wouldn’t be able to go together. Masudi left first, taking a flight to his new home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

When he arrived, he was met by staff from the International Institute of Wisconsin (IIW), an organization that works with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants to resettle refugees. They had prepared housing for him, along with information about the city, employment and much more.

“It was not easy,” says Masudi. “I had to adjust to the culture, the food, everything.”

In the first 90 days a refugee or refugee family arrives in Milwaukee, the IIW will help them find housing, furnish their new homes and learn about aid programs.

Once a refugee is settled, the IIW’s goal is to help them transition and eventually become American citizens. To accomplish that, the IIW offers naturalization counseling, technical

assistance, and medical, transportation and education support. It also provides translation and interpretation services to hospitals, schools and other organizations.

Masudi went through that transition, and soon found a job as an interpreter. His family came over later that year from Burundi and joined him in Milwaukee.

“This is how Milwaukee began – immigrants coming here as newcomers to become part of the community,” says Al Durtka, the president and CEO of the IIW. “We have newcomers coming now that are going to contribute to the growth of Milwaukee, as we look to the future.”

In June of 2021, a case manager position opened at the IIW, and Durtka turned to Masudi to fill it. Having been through the refugee resettlement process from the other end, Masudi was in a perfect position to manage new refugees arriving in Milwaukee. He took the job and has been working at the IIW since. “It’s been good because I feel good helping people,” Masudi says. “We see people are coming here, and they need a lot of things, and the International Institute is providing that assistance.”

What We Do:

  • The International Institute of Wisconsin (IIW) offers refugee resettlement services, like providing safe and secure housing, medical and transportation support, and connection to legal and government resources.
  • The IIW offers interpretation and translation services for hospitals, schools and other organizations.
  • The IIW works to promote better intercultural relations in Milwaukee.

Where Your Money Goes:

  • The nonprofit Institute depends on donations to provide housing, furnishings and other needs and programs for refugees and immigrants.

1110 N. Old World Third St.,
Suite 420

Photo courtesy of Life Navigators

Supporting Those in Need


Find out more on the MilMag Facebook livestream on Dec. 6 at noon. 

Since its founding in 1949, Life Navigators has delivered thousands of emergency bags to people with disabilities in need.

“Basic living needs are so important to the individuals we serve, especially with costs going up,” says Vicki Wachniak, executive director. “We just had someone who had to move, and they had absolutely no supplies. We were able to use gift cards to get sheets and bedding.”

Life Navigators relies on drives and individual donations through the group’s Emergency Needs Fund to continue to provide emergency items. And that is just part of the extensive work the organization does to support people with disabilities and their families. Life Navigators offers individualized support, including social groups and volunteer opportunities for the people it serves. It also offers the Guardianship Program, which monitors the health and safety of people

who don’t have a family member to provide this essential support. The organization also offers emergency in-home care when needed. “We have a team who can go out and assess and stabilize the situation,” says Wachniak. “We saw the number of families we serve increase throughout COVID.”

Cindy Bentley is one of the Wauwatosa organization’s many success stories. She was born with an intellectual disability and spent much of her youth at the Southern Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally Disabled. After leaving the center in her 20s, Life Navigators helped her develop skills to be out and active in the community and live in her own apartment. She now is a member of the Life Navigators Women’s Group and serves on Life Navigators’ board. As executive director of People First Wisconsin, an organization advocating for individuals with disabilities, she has traveled to the White House twice and met several U.S. presidents in her continued fight to ensure resources remain available to people with disabilities.

“I needed some help in how to help myself better,” Bentley says. “If I see somebody in a situation and they can’t get out of the situation, I refer them to Life Navigators. Unfortunately, a lot of people with disabilities get taken advantage of. Life Navigators treats every consumer with respect and dignity. We have to be the voice of people who cannot speak for themselves.”

What We Do:

  • Life Navigators’ mission is to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families.
  • The organization provides kids and adults with disabilities with comprehensive services and individualized support to ensure safe, happy and healthy lives.

Where Your Money Goes:

  • The Emergency Needs Fund provides critical support services and basic living items to individuals with disabilities. Donations are used to help meet the growing need for emergency items. Life Navigators accepts financial donations on its website, as well as direct items purchased off its MyRegistry list at

7203 W. Center St.,

Photo by © Steve S. Meyer, courtesy of the Nature Conservancy

Connecting People With Nature


Find out more on the MilMag Facebook livestream on Dec. 1 at noon. 

Corinne Doblar spent the summer before her senior year of high school wading the banks of the Mukwonago River, pulling invasive plants like yellow sweet clover out of the dirt. As an intern with The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin (TNC), she was learning about the watershed, while also working to keep it pristine.

“Our supervisor was a wealth of stories and knowledge about environmental science, and he would inspire us to keep pursuing our dreams,” Doblar says.

She went on to study environmental science and biology at UW-Green Bay, and then held several jobs in forestry services, and is now teaching environmental science to high school students in Lake Geneva.

“Our intern program is just one of the ways we are engaging more people, including the next generation, in protecting nature,” says Elizabeth Koehler, Wisconsin director of The Nature Conservancy.

The organization also invests heavily in land and water conservation.

One of Koehler’s proudest moments was acquiring 1,280 acres on St. Martin Island beyond the tip of the Door Peninsula, protecting it as a refuge for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.

And in October of this year, TNC collaborated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to add 300 acres of protected land to Devil’s Lake State Park.

Addressing the threat of climate change is a major focus for TNC. As part of that effort, the group launched a new program in Milwaukee to help people and neighborhoods withstand and manage environmental challenges related to climate change and the urban environment.

“We want to become part of the community of organizations and individuals who are helping create a more resilient and equitable Milwaukee,” says Koehler.

What We Do:

  • The Nature Conservancy works to create a world where all people and nature can thrive.
  • It uses science to develop innovative solutions to challenges from climate change and habitat loss, to growing healthy food and keeping water clean.

Where Your Money Goes:

  • Donations support the protection and care of Wisconsin’s lands, waters and wildlife, and help promote positive environmental and climate change policies. Funds support farmers who are implementing conservation practices. Donations are also funding a new program in Milwaukee that uses nature-based solutions to more equitably improve people’s lives and enhance the city’s natural environment.

633 W. Main St.,

Photo courtesy of Shepherds College

Fulfilling Potential


Find out more on the MilMag Facebook livestream on Dec. 10 at noon. 

Brian Page’s youngest son, Benjamin, was born prematurely with a bleed in his brain.

“He’s our miracle child,” Page says about Benjamin, now 25 years old. “He wasn’t expected to make it. The doctors literally said he would probably never walk, talk, sit up or roll over.”

That was far from the case. Benjamin grew up with vision issues and learning disabilities, but “one day he said to me he would like to go to college like his [older] brother,” says Page.

In 2016, Benjamin began studying at Shepherds College in Union Grove, a post-secondary school created to meet the needs of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He graduated in 2020 after completing the curriculum, which includes life skills (like learning to do your own laundry) and an occupational field training (culinary arts, horticulture or technology). A significant number of grads live independently after graduating.

“We didn’t realize how much we were helicoptering his life,” says Page, who was amazed one day when he called home and Benjamin was in the middle of washing his clothes, a task he learned at Shepherds College.

Page, who has a background in college administration, joined the Shepherds College team as its senior vice president of advancement in 2017. Now he advocates for the power of Benjamin’s education and experience at Shepherds College to potential students and donors.

“It’s a revelation for students to say, ‘I’m going to college with other kids who are like me,’” says Page.

Students at Shepherds College have hailed from 34 different states and eight different countries. In the students’ third year at the college, they are placed in jobs related to their chosen field, working up to 20 hours a week, and the college has a 79% placement rate.

Within the last year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s stay-at-home orders, the school launched a new online learning program, which it plans to continue offering as a means to further expand its reach.

What We Do:

  • Shepherds College provides a uniquely designed learning environment for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • The college offers job, social and living skills training as well as specialized occupational training in the areas of culinary arts, horticulture and technology, on a residential campus.

Where Your Money Goes:

  • Donations are used for student scholarships, operations and development of new programs such as Shepherds College Online. The Shepherds College Annual Scholarship Fund assists students with financial need. This school year, 61.8% of students are receiving a scholarship.

1805 15th Ave.,
Union Grove


Find out more on the MilMag Facebook Livestream on Dec. 3 at noon.

What We Do:

  • YWCA Southeast Wisconsin’s (YWCA SEW) mission is to eliminate racism and empower women, promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YWCA SEW envisions a thriving, inclusive and just Southeast Wisconsin defined by racial and gender equity as the foundation for healthy communities. It serves Southeast Wisconsin individuals and families, businesses and sister organizations in the social sector.
  • YWCA SEW programs are integrated deliberately, providing a network of services including personal financial management, adult education, women’s professional development and racial and gender equity programming. Programming is available to all, but the majority of participants are women and their families.
  • 2022 initiatives include expanded racial justice community classes and blueprints for next steps, as well as digital skill-learning opportunities in the economic empowerment programming, assuring that adult learners have greater job opportunities and can be engaged in all aspects of life from personal financial management to supervising children’s homework.

Where Your Money Goes:

  • Donations fund YWCA SEW’s economic empowerment and racial/gender justice programs, including personal financial management, adult education and women’s professional development. Many of YWCA SEW’s program grants require matching funds from donors – together your gifts make an impact.

YWCA Southeast Wisconsin
1915 N. Martin Luther King Dr.

Photo courtesy of Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin

Feeding  America  Eastern Wisconsin

Find out more on the MilMag Facebook Livestream on Dec. 2 at noon.

What We Do:

  • Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin is the largest hunger-relief organization in the state, with locations in Milwaukee and Appleton. The organization works with over 400 hunger-relief programs, including food pantries, meal programs and shelters to provide more than 53 million pounds of food annually to more than half a million people across 35 counties in eastern Wisconsin. The food bank meets 66% of the state’s food need.
  • “We were founded in the heart of Milwaukee and we are still located in the heart of Milwaukee,” says Patti Habeck, president and CEO. “It’s bringing that work to the people who are closest to those in need and who know them best.”
  • The organization facilitates large-scale donations from food suppliers and grocers. “We act as that collection arm to do work that a small pantry would not be able to do on their own,” says Habeck. “By working together, we’re able to access more product and achieve more than we would on our own.”

Where Your Money Goes:

  • Donations help to feed the one in seven people in eastern Wisconsin facing hunger.
  • Every dollar donated translates to four meals for families due to the organization’s ability to purchase food in bulk. There’s particular need for “shelf-stable and healthy foods,” says Habeck.
  • Volunteers sort and inventory food donations. Families are welcome to volunteer. (Children must be at least 10 years old.) Check the website for upcoming dates.

Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin
1700 W. Fond du Lac Ave.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s December issue.

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