Community-Based Organizations

Click the image to learn more. The Walnut Way Conservation Corp. transforms vacant lots into community gardens, many of them cared for by area students.

Although community-based organizations are active in cities around the United States, they have received relatively little attention from historians.[1] The historical scholarship that does exist about community-based organizations tends to treat them solely within their local contexts rather than as a larger phenomenon worthy of sustained study or comparison across places.[2] Community-based organizations is a broader category than “community organizing.” The term “community organizing” commonly refers to practices in the tradition of Saul Alinsky, who taught those he organized how to leverage power.[3]

This entry defines a community-based organization (CBO) as a group of people who share a common cause (other than making a profit) and collectively take an active role in accomplishing their goals. Such organizations are usually independent of any level of government and focus on a specific, local geographical area. Some CBOs push people to collectively improve life in their communities, and others are aimed at changing larger structures that affect local experiences.

Because research into CBOs is so sparse, this entry does not attempt to offer an exhaustive accounting of their history in Milwaukee. Instead, this entry considers representative examples of CBOs that focused on political, social, and economic issues. This entry concludes with histories of two organizations whose activities do not fit neatly into these categories. Several other prominent non-profit organizations in Milwaukee have separate entries elsewhere in this encyclopedia. A comprehensive history of community-based organizations in the Milwaukee area remains to be researched and written.

Political Community-Based Organizations

The purpose of politically oriented community-based organizations is to effect political change. In Milwaukee’s recent history, they have often sought to give representation to marginalized communities. The organizations highlighted here aspired to have a political impact, through taking an active role in electing representatives to government office or campaigning to influence the opinions of elected officials and particular public policies.

Sherman Park Community Association

The Sherman Park Community Association (SPCA) was founded in late 1970 in response to multiple issues of concern to residents of Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood. The area the organization elected to cover runs through the Sherman Park neighborhood, bordered by North Avenue, Capitol Drive, and 60th and 40th streets. Participants were dismayed by a proposal to build the Park West Freeway through the neighborhood. Their primary focus was combatting the deterioration of the local physical environment that they saw accompanying Milwaukee’s deindustrialization. In addition to the successful fight against the freeway extension, they worked against “urban blight,” kept tabs on vacant lots, and organized block clubs. In notable contrast to many neighborhood associations founded by white urban dwellers in this period, SPCA welcomed participation from African Americans, who were moving into Sherman Park. SPCA opposed blockbusting and redlining practices, which drove white homeowners out of neighborhoods and made housing more expensive for African Americans. It strove to make Sherman Park a racially integrated community.[4]

The SPCA survives in the twenty-first century, with headquarters in a Fond du Lac Avenue storefront. It continues to work to maintain Sherman Park’s diversity and counter the effects of the loss of family-supporting manufacturing jobs in Milwaukee. In addition, SPCA has expanded its work to include support for homeowners wishing to repair their houses and remove dangerous lead paint.[5]

Voces de la Frontera

Voces de la Frontera (sometimes referred to simply as Voces) is a CBO originally based in Austin, Texas, where it began as a newspaper. The organization relocated to Milwaukee in 1998, when the co-founder, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, moved to Wisconsin. The name Voces de la Frontera means “voices from the border”; the name refers to maquiladora workers voicing their demands for safe conditions in factories along the US-Mexico border.[6] After moving to Milwaukee in 1998, Voces focused on engaging immigrant and low-wage workers. The Voces worker center, opened in 2001, offers services like workers’ rights education.[7]

Since 2006, Voces has participated in the annual march called Day Without Latinos, which protests legislation that discriminates against immigrant and low-wage workers. The first Day Without Latinos march occurred after Wisconsin Congressperson James Sensenbrenner introduced HB 4437 in December 2005. The bill troubled undocumented immigrants because it would make “illegal U.S presence a crime.”[8] Voces responded to the bill by participating in a nationwide movement primarily led by immigrants. Approximately 70,000 people marched in Milwaukee on May 1st, 2006.[9]

In 2010, Voces participated in a nationwide movement of solidarity with immigrant workers in Arizona protesting SB 1070, a state bill to legalize racial profiling.[10] The following year, Arizona “copycat” law AB 173 was introduced in the Wisconsin state legislature; it would allow law enforcement to transport people who were arrested for a crime and deemed unlawfully present to federal immigration or border patrol agencies.[11] The 2011 Day Without Latinos march in response to AB 173 saw 100,000 in participants.[12]

Voces has participated in other political campaigns, including the movement to restore driver’s licenses to undocumented citizens, the New Sanctuary Movement, and Get Out the Vote campaigns in 2006, 2008, and 2018.[13] Voces de la Frontera continues to offer immigrant workers services through legal assistance, Know Your Rights programs, and English as Second Language and citizenship classes.

Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT)

Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) built its organization around empowering student leaders in Milwaukee neighborhoods. LIT aspires to restore equity to all members of the Milwaukee community by assisting youth leaders of today to address past mistreatment.

Dakota Hall formed LIT in Milwaukee during fall of 2017.[14] Before developing LIT, Hall organized with MICAH (Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope) to promote local social equity.[15] Hall registered LIT with the federal Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit entity permitted to participate in politics through lobbying and campaigning.[16] He aimed to build political and organizational change within Milwaukee neighborhoods by cultivating youth leaders.[17] LIT focused on creating economic, racial, and social justice through steady cultural advancement and political representation.[18]

Working on campuses and communities, LIT inspired student leaders at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, North Division High School, Milwaukee School of Languages, Milwaukee High School of the Arts, and others around the city.[19] Student leaders motivated their peers to advance political representation of their communities through several initiatives. One such initiative was the Youth Power Agenda, a fourteen-point plan designed to optimize the learning environment for all Milwaukee Public School (MPS) students. It analyzed the treatment of students in MPS as a school-to-prison pipeline, especially for students of color, and sought to change those conditions. Primary among the plan’s goals were creating opportunities for open discussion of reform, removing officers and metal detectors from schools, and ending suspensions and expulsions.[20] An additional program intended to develop and empower youth leaders was Black Hogwarts, a summer leadership program intended to develop youth leaders. It helped students explore intersectional anti-oppression work, civic engagement, political education, and community organizing.[21] LIT had a significant role in encouraging college youth to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. Members knocked on 6,500 doors, collected 5,000 pledge to vote cards, and engaged over 100,000 individuals on social media.[22]


Community-based organizations that are oriented toward economics try to influence the personal finances of individuals or the use of capital by businesses. Methods such groups use sometimes include a system of collective form of management, change, or bartering. The examples highlighted here reflect both top-down and bottom-up approaches to economic change.

The New Hope Project

In the 1990s, Milwaukee was at the center of a national experiment in rethinking the administration of welfare in the United States. Critics of the federal welfare program Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) regarded it as undermining recipients’ independence. As a response to AFDC, the Congress for a Working America (CFWA) developed the New Hope Project (NHP) in 1988 to pilot an alternative model. David Reimer,[23] co-founder of the New Hope Project, designed it to demonstrate that impoverished individuals had the desire to obtain financial independence through jobs. Under NHP’s approach, aid recipients had to work at least thirty hours a week to be eligible for benefits. At the same time, NHP[24] incentivized paid employment through structured aid in the job search; wage supplements; raising incomes to 150% of the poverty level without triggering tax penalties; and health care and child care. More than seventy-three agencies in the greater Milwaukee area participated.[25]

In 1992 NHP ran a pre-pilot group with fifty-two participants and received evaluations from several independent agencies.[26] Recruitment for participation in the full-blown project began in August 1994 in the North Side 53208 and South Side 53204 zip codes.[27] The full project ran from December 1995 to 1998. Advocates regarded the three-year project as a success. NHP served as a model for the reform of the federal approach to welfare. In 1996, the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act replaced AFDC with a program called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, which required recipients to work and limited lifetime eligibility for aid.

Walnut Way Conservation Corp.

Walnut Way was an integral part of the Bronzeville neighborhood during the unofficial mayorship of J. Anthony Josey following World War II.[28] Milwaukee faced an economic decline that reached its lowest point in the late 1990s and drove much of the neighborhood into poverty. In 2000 a group of residents led by Sharon and Larry Adams formed the Walnut Way Conservation Corp. (WWCC).[29] It was originally inspired by boarding houses, where local homeowners welcomed and assisted people too poor to rent an apartment on their own.[30] WWCC developed a deeper understanding of how to best serve their community through meetings with Boston’s Dudley Street Neighborhood Association and the acclaimed community organizer, Mel King.[31] Some of the approaches gained from these trips were the utilization of community gardens, housing initiatives, and the importance of drawing on the individual strengths of its members. They aspired to rebuild an economically prosperous community without displacing low-income residents.[32]

Although the WWCC mission statement has changed over the years, its core ideals have remained consistent. As of 2018, their mission was to “to sustain transformation by advancing an economically diverse and abundant community through civic engagement, environmental stewardship, and creating venues for prosperity.”[33] They are best known for their community gardening program, through which they transform vacant lots into flourishing vegetable gardens. Residents sell their produce and funnel the funds back into the neighborhood’s economic development. Students often take on important roles in fostering these gardens. Through this process, they learn important business skills and build confidence. In the original spirit of togetherness, WWCC hosts an annual Harvest Day Festival every October to celebrate the hard work conducted by community members.[34]

They also have a “community-driven, cooperatively funded multi-use commercial development” called the Innovations and Wellness Commons that provides jobs and wellness services to residents. Their offerings include healthy food options, workforce training, educational and community programming, and health and wellness services.[35] Phase I of this project, providing “food focused services,” was completed in October of 2015.[36] Construction of Phase II was planned to start 2019. It will provide space for social gatherings and physical activities, health and wellness practices, and workforce development services.[37]

Bader Philanthropies

Bader Philanthropies is a charitable foundation that allows the Bader family to provide private support to a variety of groups. Alfred Bader, a Jewish refugee who fled Vienna as part of the Kindertransport just before the Second World War, founded the Aldrich Chemical Company in 1951.[38] The Baders established their family philanthropic organization in 1992.[39] Its two major arms, the Helen Daniels Bader Fund and the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund, focus on the philanthropic interests of its founders. The Helen Daniels Bader Fund provides grants that support research on Alzheimer’s disease and facilities for Alzheimer’s patients throughout the world.[40] The Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund aims to improve the lives of low-income Milwaukeeans and support Jewish education in Milwaukee.[41] The organization entertains Milwaukee-focused proposals in the areas of Workforce Development, Youth Development, Community Initiatives, and the Arts.[42] By 2018, Bader Philanthropies had made over 6,200 grants since its founding,[43] dispersing approximately $250 million. They planned to distribute another $14 million annually.[44] In October of 2018, Bader Philanthropies established a footprint in one of the neighborhoods it aspired to serve by opening a new headquarters building at 3300 North Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.[45]


The purpose of a socially driven community-based organization is to improve relationships among people through communication and better the community through social changes. CBOs sometimes approach these goals by creating common spaces where people with similar concerns can discuss topics relevant to them.

Mayor’s Beautification Committee

To cultivate social connection in Milwaukee in the 1960s, one group focused on the physical environment. In 1965, during his fifth year in office, Mayor Henry Maier created the Mayor’s Beautification Committee, a civic arm of his political activities. This group was comprised of one hundred women, with his wife serving as honorary chairwoman.[46]

Because its goal was to highlight Milwaukee’s innate beauty, the group focused on enhancing the physical environment. Their noteworthy projects included planting flowers on the Summerfest grounds, developing green spaces, and, most famously, turning Milwaukee into a “city of fountains.”[47] Minding their lakeside location, one member boasted that “when people in other cities can’t even drink a glass of water, we have this great supply and we ought to show it off.”[48] After surveying sixty potential sites, they decided to restore four preexisting fountains and watering troughs left from the days when horses dominated Milwaukee’s streets.[49] Each site had enough room for surrounding green space.[50]

In 1996, eight years after Henry Maier left office, his Beautification Committee transformed into a new non-profit organization, Greening Milwaukee.[51] The organization’s goal is to encourage greening efforts in Milwaukee through community effort. One of its biggest projects was planting trees to repair damage from Dutch Elm Disease, which wiped out thousands of trees in Milwaukee.[52] Since its creation, Greening Milwaukee has absorbed many branches of the Mayor’s Beautification Committee and continues to enhance Milwaukee’s allure through community initiative.[53]

Cream City Foundation

The goal of the Cream City Foundation (CCF) is to support smaller nonprofit organizations that focused on LGBT+ issues. Recognized by the US government as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity, the foundation aims to provide LGBT+ affiliates with resources to help them grow and have an impact in their area.[54] Although based in Milwaukee, per their bylaws, they serve recipients throughout Wisconsin.[55]

The organization was founded by the Cream City Business Association in 1982 with $500.[56] The foundation struggled for its first several years and considered disbanding in 1986.[57] But the members decided they wanted to continue with their mission of helping others, starting what became known as “Operation Boot Strap” to get back on track.[58] The CCF’s reboot succeeded. In 1987, the organization ran a cable television program and opened an office and community center. By the 1990s, CCF was stable enough to hire a full-time executive director.[59]

The foundation worked with organizations across Wisconsin, including groups on college campuses. For example, in April 1984 they co-sponsored and donated $375 to the Gay Spring Weekend at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.[60] They also educated members on topics such as non-profit management, handling donations, and other resources supporting the organization’s goals. Since 2015, CCF has run a scholarship program for students pursuing post-secondary education.[61] By 2018, the Foundation had given “more than $1.5 million to life-affirming, life-sustaining and life-celebrating programs for the LGBTQ+ communities of southeastern Wisconsin.”[62]


Some community-based organizations cross the social, economic, and political boundaries delineated above. In some cases, organizations are founded on multiple purposes; in others their focus changes over time. The histories of two groups illustrate this point.

Eastside Housing Action Coalition

The East Side Housing Action Coalition (ESHAC) grew out of East Side Focus, a small group of leftist activists opposed to the war in Vietnam who worked on local housing and health care issues. Their housing committee, ESHAC, initially focused on organizing renters to fight exploitative and abusive landlords on the city’s East Side. ESHAC sought to radicalize the East Side’s tenants. They created a tenant’s bill of rights, helped residents document the problems in their buildings and their relationships with landlords, and helped them start their own tenants unions. When East Side Focus closed in 1973, ESHAC merged with the Milwaukee chapter of the Wisconsin Alliance.[63] ESHAC moved its offices to Riverwest, where rent was more affordable than on the East Side.[64] The organization also took over a storefront and turned it into a cooperative grocery store.[65]

In November 1974, ESHAC shifted its focus to oppose a city plan to widen Locust Street into a boulevard. As ESHAC members saw it, in addition to demolishing their own new headquarters in a Locust Street storefront, the project would have displaced existing residents and businesses from Riverwest and channeled profit from new developments to already-wealthy businessmen. Additionally, the issue provided an opportunity to mobilize and organize Riverwest’s residents. After much effort, ESHAC managed to get the plans changed and in the process found a base of support. They celebrated their success in 1978 with the Locust Street Community Festival, which continues in the twenty-first century as an annual event.[66]

In the late 1970s, ESHAC moved toward a community economic development orientation and broke with the socialist Wisconsin Alliance. By 1977, ESHAC shifted its focus from grassroots organizing to electoral and reformist politics and obtained federal 501(c)(3) status.[67] At the same time, ESHAC lost control of its co-op on Locust Street, their main source of income. The co-op no longer wanted to be political.[68] Functioning as a Community Development Corporation, ESHAC sought new sources of funding, including support from the United Way and a share of Milwaukee’s federal Community Development Block Grants.[69] In the 1980 mayoral election, ESHAC unsuccessfully supported Mayor Henry Maier’s opponent, Dennis Conta, the architect of a rejected plan to integrate Milwaukee Public Schools with suburban districts.[70]

Next, ESHAC chose to moderate its political activism and took up housing rehabilitation in its portfolio. They invited their former antagonist, Mayor Maier, as their keynote speaker at their annual meeting in 1981.[71] ESHAC decided to create a project focused on the buying and redevelopment of properties.[72] Inexperienced in the housing area, they had difficulty procuring sales and soon found themselves in debt. Their work in housing also conflicted with a new initiative against redlining in Milwaukee.[73] Under new leadership, ESHAC undertook a flurry of new programs in the 1990s. The other programs were ultimately unable to generate enough income to cover financial difficulties associated with the housing redevelopment program. ESHAC disbanded in 1998.[74]

Organization of Organizations (Triple O)

The Organization of Organizations, sometimes referred to as Triple O, also resists exact categorization. It was formed in the mid-1960s from a proposal of the Northcott Neighborhood House, a settlement based near the Hillside Housing Project.[75] As a “militant antipoverty program,” its purpose was to instruct low-income Milwaukeeans how to organize according to their social and economic interests. To assure the organization was connected to the people it taught, Triple O’s board of directors were low-income residents themselves.[76] Many of its members were trained under Saul Alinsky, considered to be the founder of modern community organizing.[77] However, they viewed his teachings as strategy instead of strict rules.[78] They instead combined Alinsky’s conflict-based approach with methods from the federal Model Cities Program.[79]

Triple O’s membership consisted of both organizations and individuals. At its peak, it had thirty-eight member organizations.[80] It also fought for social change on its own. Triple O was involved in Civil Rights activism in Milwaukee, helping organize two hundred consecutive days of marches to support Alderwoman Vel Phillips’s call for fair housing.[81] In addition, it promoted two-way integration by organizing public schools into clusters to increase parental involvement.[82] Other notable achievements include gaining a poverty-representative majority in the city’s Model Cities advisory committee and sponsoring the “Blac-a-vention” to select Milwaukee Public School (MPS) board candidates.[83] Though Triple O no longer exists, its achievements have left permanent imprints across Milwaukee’s social justice landscape.

Footnotes [+]

  1. ^ This entry was written collectively by a class of undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the fall semester of 2018. For more about how this process unfolded, click on the Explore More button below and read the Understory.
  2. ^ For an exception, see Patricia Mooney Melvin, ed., American Community Organizations: A Historical Dictionary (New York, NY: Greenwood Press, 1986).
  3. ^ Sanford D. Horwitt, Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky, His Life and Legacy (New York, NY: Knopf, 1989); Saul D. Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1945); Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1972).
  4. ^ For overviews of SPCA’s history, see Sherman Park Community Association, Inc.: 25 Years of Neighborhood, 1971-1996 (Milwaukee: The Association, [1996?]); Juliet Saltman, A Fragile Movement: The Struggle for Neighborhood Stabilization (New York, NY: Greenwood Press, 1990); and Finding Aid, Sherman Park Community Association Records, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Archives, Golda Meir Library, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, last accessed July 23, 2019.
  5. ^ Sherman Park Community Association, Inc. website, accessed July 23, 2019.
  6. ^History,” Voces de la Frontera website, accessed December 3, 2018.
  7. ^History,” Voces de la Frontera website.
  8. ^ Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, H.R. 4437, 109th Congress (2005-2006), accessed July 31, 2019.
  9. ^ Georgia Pabst, “A Mass Appeal for Immigration Reform,” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, updated May 1, 2006, accessed through the Internet Archive.
  10. ^May 1st Marches across the United States,” Voces de la Frontera, May 2010, last accessed September 6, 2019.
  11. ^ 2011 Assembly Bill, A.B 173, Wisconsin State Legislature (2011), accessed July 31, 2019.
  12. ^¡La Fuerza de 100,000! 100,000 Strong!,” Voces de la Frontera, May 2011, last accessed September 6, 2019.
  13. ^Campaigns,” Voces de la Frontera website, accessed December 3, 2018.
  14. ^Leaders Igniting Transformation,” About Us, LIT MKE, accessed December 3, 2018.
  15. ^ Andrea Waxman, “‘I Am 53206,’” Urban Milwaukee, updated June 28, 2016, last accessed September 6, 2019.
  16. ^ 501(c)(4), Ballotpedia website, accessed July 5, 2019.
  17. ^Leaders Igniting Transformation,” LIT MKE, accessed December 3, 2018; “Types of Organizations Exempt under Section 501(c)(4),” Internal Revenue Service, updated April 2, 2018, last accessed September 6, 2019.
  18. ^Leaders Igniting Transformation,” LIT MKE.
  19. ^Leaders Igniting Transformation,” LIT MKE; “Campus Leadership Project,” LitMke, accessed December 3, 2018.
  20. ^ Dean Bibens, “Student Group Calls on MPS to ‘Take Racial Discrimination Seriously,’” Neighborhood News Service Milwaukee, updated March 30, 2018, accessed December 3, 2018.
  21. ^Black Hogwarts,” LitMke, accessed December 3, 2018.
  22. ^ LITMKE (@LitMke), “With the polls now closed in Wisconsin, we want to share with you the impact that youth of Leaders Igniting Transformation had on this election. In this defining moment, change has come to Milwaukee,” Twitter, August 14, 2018, 6:33 p.m.; Bruce Murphy, “Young Voters Could Decide Election,” Urban Milwaukee, updated November 6, 2018, accessed December 3, 2018.
  23. ^ “David Reimer,” Public Policy Institute,, accessed December 3, 2018, now available at, last accessed September 6, 2019.
  24. ^ New Hope Project Records, 1985-1999, New Hope Project (Milwaukee, WI), Biography/History, UWM Manuscript Collection 158, UW-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives/Milwaukee Area Research Ctr., last accessed September 6, 2019; Mark A. Rice, “The Creation and Evolution of the New Hope Project” (MS thesis, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2009).
  25. ^ Finding Aid, New Hope Project Records, 1985-1999.
  26. ^ Finding Aid, New Hope Project Records, 1985-1999.
  27. ^ Finding Aid, New Hope Project Records, 1985-1999.
  28. ^ Genevieve G. McBride and Stephen R. Byers, “The First Mayor of Black Milwaukee: J. Anthony Josey,” Wisconsin Magazine of History 91, no. 2 (2007): 2-15.
  29. ^Our History—Walnut Way,” Walnut Way, last accessed September 6, 2019.
  30. ^ “Caring Neighbors Make Good Communities: The Walnut Way Story Project, 2010,” Box 1, Folder 3, Walnut Way Conservation Corp. Records, 2001-2010, Milwaukee Mss 190, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department (hereafter WWCC records).
  31. ^ “Caring Neighbors Make Good Communities: The Walnut Way Story Project, 2010,” WWCC records.
  32. ^ “Good Neighbors Make Good Communities: Walnut Way Development Guide,” Box 1, Folder 5, WWCC records.
  33. ^Walnut Way—Our Mission Is to Sustain Economically Diverse and Abundant Communities through Civic Engagement, Environmental Stewardship, and Creating Venues for Prosperity,” Walnut Way, last accessed September 6, 2019.
  34. ^ “Annual Report: 2007,” Box 1, Folder 1, WWCC records.
  35. ^The Commons—Walnut Way,” Walnut Way, last accessed September 6, 2019.
  36. ^The Commons—Walnut Way.”
  37. ^The Commons—Walnut Way.”
  38. ^ Bill Glauber, “Alfred Bader: Chemical Company Magnate, Milwaukee Philanthropist Dies at Age 94,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 24, 2018, accessed July 17, 2019; “Alfred Bader, Milwaukee Philanthropist and Art Collector, Dies at 94,” Washington Jewish Week, January 10, 2019, , accessed through ProQuest.
  39. ^A New Path Forward,” Bader Philanthropies website, accessed December 3, 2018.
  40. ^Change Is Powered by Compassion,” Bader Philanthropies website, last accessed July 23, 2019.
  41. ^Change Is Powered by Compassion,” Bader Philanthropies website, last accessed July 23, 2019.
  42. ^Projects That We Fund,” Bader Philanthropies website, accessed July 8, 2019.
  43. ^A New Path Forward,” Bader Philanthropies website, accessed December 3, 2018.
  44. ^A New Path Forward,” Bader Philanthropies website, accessed December 3, 2018.
  45. ^News & Events,” Bader Philanthropies, accessed December 3, 2018; Tiffany Nesbitt, “Bader Project Makes Heart of Milwaukee Beat,” The Daily Reporter, May 15, 2019, accessed through ProQuest, July 17, 2019.
  46. ^ “About Greening Milwaukee,” Greening Milwaukee,, accessed November 12, 2018, now available at, accessed September 6, 2019; “Milwaukee Hopes to Be ‘City of Fountains,’” New York Times, November 28, 1965, accessed through ProQuest Newspapers; “The Mayor’s Beautification Committee Collection,” Milwaukee County Historical Society, accessed August 3, 2019.
  47. ^About Greening Milwaukee,” Greening Milwaukee; “Milwaukee Hopes to Be ‘City of Fountains.’”
  48. ^ “Milwaukee Hopes to Be ‘City of Fountains.’”
  49. ^ One idea was to build a 400-foot jet fountain, which would cost about $1,739,230 in today’s money; “Milwaukee Hopes to Be ‘City of Fountains.’”
  50. ^ “Milwaukee Hopes to Be ‘City of Fountains.’”
  51. ^About Greening Milwaukee,” Greening Milwaukee.
  52. ^About Greening Milwaukee,” Greening Milwaukee.
  53. ^About Greening Milwaukee,” Greening Milwaukee.
  54. ^About Cream City Foundation,” Cream City Foundation website, accessed December 5, 2018.
  55. ^ Cream City Foundation, a.k.a. C.C.F., History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, last accessed July 19, 2019.
  56. ^ About Cream City Foundation, Cream City Foundation website, last accessed July 19, 2019; Cream City Foundation, a.k.a. C.C.F., History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, last accessed July 19, 2019.
  57. ^ Annual Reports and Financial Statements, 1982-1995, 1997, Box 1, Folder 1, Cream City Foundation Records, Milwaukee Mss 205, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department (hereafter CCF records).
  58. ^ Annual Reports and Financial Statements, 1982-1995, 1997, CCF records.
  59. ^ Cream City Foundation, a.k.a. C.C.F., History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, last accessed July 19, 2019.
  60. ^ Annual Reports and Financial Statements, 1982-1995, 1997, CCF records.
  61. ^ Scholarship Program, Cream City Foundation website, last accessed July 19, 2019.
  62. ^About Cream City Foundation,” Cream City Foundation website, accessed December 5, 2018.
  63. ^ Michael R. Grover, “The End of Politics: The Rise and Fall of the East Side Housing Action Coalition (ESHAC), 1970-1998” (PhD diss., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2004), chapter 1.
  64. ^ Grover, “The End of Politics,” 34, 79.
  65. ^ Grover, “The End of Politics,” 107.
  66. ^ Grover, “The End of Politics,” chapter 2; Locust Street Festival of Music and Art, last accessed July 19, 2019.
  67. ^ Grover, “The End of Politics,” 106, 164.
  68. ^ Grover, “The End of Politics,” 112-113.
  69. ^ Grover, “The End of Politics,” 120.
  70. ^ Grover, “The End of Politics,” 156-157.
  71. ^ Grover, “The End of Politics,” 161-162.
  72. ^ Grover, “The End of Politics,” 158.
  73. ^ Grover, “The End of Politics,” 214, 181-182.
  74. ^ Grover, “The End of Politics,” chapter 6, 219.
  75. ^ Mark Edward Braun, Social Change and the Empowerment of the Poor: Poverty Representation in Milwaukee’s Community Action Programs, 1964-1972 (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2001), 124.
  76. ^ Braun, Social Change and the Empowerment of the Poor, 125.
  77. ^ Reverend Lucius Walker, interview by Jack Dougherty, 1996, box 3 folder 6, transcript, More Than One Struggle Oral History Project Records, Milwaukee Mss 217, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department, 4.
  78. ^ Adolphus Ward, interview by Jack Dougherty, 1995, box 3 folder 7, transcript, More Than One Struggle Oral History Project Records, Milwaukee Mss 217, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department, 2.
  79. ^ Ward interview, 9.
  80. ^ Braun, Social Change and the Empowerment of the Poor, 129.
  81. ^ Braun, Social Change and the Empowerment of the Poor, 132.
  82. ^ Monroe Swan, interview by Jack Dougherty, 1996, box 3 folder 3, transcript, More Than One Struggle Oral History Project Records, Milwaukee Mss 217, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Archives Department, 6.
  83. ^ Braun, Social Change and the Empowerment of the Poor, 136.

For Further Reading

Braun, Mark Edward. Social Change and the Empowerment of the Poor: Poverty Representation in Milwaukee’s Community Action Programs, 1964-1972. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2001.

Saltman, Juliet. A Fragile Movement: The Struggle for Neighborhood Stabilization. New York, NY: Greenwood Press, 1990.

Explore More [+]




Writing an Entry Collectively

This entry on the history of Community-Based Organizations in Milwaukee was written by a group of undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) in the fall of 2018. How did this entry come into being?

UWM Professor Amanda Seligman waged an unsuccessful search for an established scholar to write the proposed entry. Although there was some scholarship on groups such as the OOO and the Sherman Park Community Association, she could not find someone to take on the daunting task of synthesizing the existing literature and conducting extensive new research to write a comprehensive history. Unwilling to let the entry go altogether, Seligman considered whether she could get a group of students to write it collectively. She approached UWM’s Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) about sponsoring a Course-Based Research Project in the fall semester of 2018.[1] Based on the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee’s (EMKE) track record of training undergraduate researchers through OUR’s Student Undergraduate Research Fellows program,[2] OUR agreed to facilitate the course.

Because this course was going to be offered one time only, no one knew how many students might be attracted to it. Three different sections of the class—one for freshmen and dual enrollment students, one for sophomores, and one for juniors and seniors—were advertised in the Schedule of Classes and other outlets. Approximately a dozen students ultimately accepted the challenge of researching and writing this entry. In the spirit of the subject of community organizing, Seligman crafted a syllabus that guided students through the research process but allowed them to make most of the choices about the learning opportunities. The UWM Libraries offered extensive support as well. A course-embedded librarian provided opportunities for the class to learn to use resources such as the Archives Department and search tools available through the library. Students worked all semester to learn about the history of community organizing and manage their work collectively. They conceptualized, research, wrote, and revised the entry together. Then the entry went through the EMKE’s normal editorial workflow, including fact-checking and editorial revision.

In addition to the usual course evaluation process, students also engaged in reflections on their work process. Several students presented their research at OUR’s inaugural Freshman Seminar Symposium in December 2018. One student and the librarian embedded in the course participated in the 2019 Teaching and Learning Symposium, sponsored by the UWM Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. They presented an overview of the process and shared what they had learned from the collaboration.

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Amanda I. Seligman

Footnotes [+]

  1. ^ Course-Based Research Projects, UWM Office of Undergraduate Research, last accessed September 6, 2019.
  2. ^ Support for Undergraduate Research Fellows, UWM Office of Undergraduate Research, last accessed September 6, 2019.