The Big Impact
The Big Impact is a new program meant to change the way people engage with philanthropy by creating an engaging, crowdfunded pitch event. What is it? A micro-granting event supporting community, place-based and entrepreneurial projects that shape our city. Five pre-selected project submissions will be pitched to the audience by individuals, non-profits, and community organizations interested in utilizing the funding to carry out their project.
Chosen Projects to Pitch at The Big Impact:
– Alice’s Garden Urban Farm Rainwater Harvesting Project
– BeYou Mobile Career Networking Platform
– Farmfork – Wholesale Baked Goods Project
– Near West Side Storefront Build
– One Street Outreach
– Recre(ART)e in the Menomonee Valley
Find out more about these projects in the next tab!
Attendees pay a fee of $25 to attend the event and vote for their favorite project. The winning pitch will go home with all of the money raised through ticket sales. Complimentary appetizers and a cash bar will be available.
Gentleman Jack will also be on site and attendees will have the opportunity to try three Gentleman Jack featured cocktails from the cash bar and vote on their favorite. They will also be offering their virtual reality experience, responsibility station, and giveaways at the end of the program!
To make an extra donation or to donate to the event without attending, please go to the registration link and click on ‘tickets’. Any amount helps, we appreciate your generosity!
(Please note, this event 21+ and is non-refundable. If you bought a ticket and are no longer able to attend, your ticket fee will still be applied to the winner’s fund.)
Recre(ART)e in the Menomonee Valley
Menomonee Valley Partners
Construction was completed on the Menomonee Valley Community Park in 2006 and the community is still becoming familiar with it as an outdoor recreation space. Recre(ART)e in the Menomonee Valley uses art, outdoor furniture, and plantings to provide placemaking components that frame this as a public amenity for recreation. It also educates about nature and the first stormwater recapture project from a bridge in the city.
Current efforts activate this as a community amenity include paths, glass art panels, some benches, and events such as the recent Urban Candlelight Hike. Recre(ART)e will build awareness of this public space during summer events, eight Food Truck Wednesdays and various walk/bike tours, and during the first season of outdoor soccer programming, provided by the Milwaukee Torrent with the Boys & Girls Club. Community volunteers are vital to its success and ongoing community support: painting, planting, and building and painting the outdoor furniture.
This project includes painting two of the largest rain barrels in the city and constructing/painting outdoor furniture for the park.
Rain barrels – Two 1,200 gallon rain barrels were installed in 2012 and were the first in the city to capture rainwater from a bridge, keeping the unfiltered road pollutants from the 35th Street Viaduct from flowing directly into the river. They provide water for the plantings in the neighboring park, plants that were planted specifically to filter stormwater, and avoid wasting potable water. This is a demonstration project for green infrastructure. The problem is that the unsightly rain barrels don’t tell this great story! MVP proposes commissioning an artist to turn the rain barrels into art that tells their story, also encouraging the community to embark on their own sustainable practices. Plants around the rain barrels would enhance appeal and perception.
Outdoor furniture – Vibrantly painted Aldo Leopold benches or Jones Chairs will draw people’s eyes to the park, as well as provide places to sit during summer events and during the first year children will play soccer in the park. Plants around the furniture will welcome users.
This location is visible and accessible to thousands of residents and employees. Canal Street is used by 17,500 cars per day, 145,000 people use the Hank Aaron State Trail per year, 3 million people visit Miller Park each year, and 1,500 employees have walkable access to the area.
Alice’s Garden Urban Farm Rainwater Harvesting Project
Alice’s Garden Urban Farm
The overall project is to design, build, and install an innovative Rainwater Harvesting System at Alice’s Garden Urban Farm, a two-acre community garden, which will channel rainwater from Brown Street Academy’s playground, through a bioswale, and into underground storage located below the garden. From there, the water will be distributed by a solar powered pump to spigots that gardeners will use to access the water for their gardens. In an average season, this will keep hundreds of thousands of gallons of runoff out of Milwaukee’s wastewater treatment system.
The project we are presenting for the Big Impact is the landscaping of the bioswale once the earthmoving is complete. The landscaping will involve layers of materials that will collect and bio-filter rainwater and funnel that rainwater into the underground cistern. Bio-filtration is a passive process done by plants, engineered soil media, and coconut fiber mats.
An incredible coalition of community stakeholders, including Alice’s Garden gardeners, has worked together to bring this project from a seed of an idea to having design plans and bids from contractors. Project partners include: Brown Street Academy, City of Milwaukee Health Department, Fund for Lake Michigan, HNTB, Fox Point Lutheran Church, GZA GeoEnvironmental, Lake Park Lutheran Church, Milwaukee Area Spiritual Leaders and Healers, Milwaukee County Parks, Milwaukee Public Schools, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Milwaukee Water Commons, Reflo Sustainable Water Solutions, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, The Table, Thrivent Financial, and UW-Milwaukee – Conservation & Environmental Science.
Farmfork – Wholesale Baked Goods Project
Neu-Life Community Development
Farmfork – Wholesale Baked Goods Project is an extension of the existing Neu-Life Farmfork urban agriculture and culinary arts program that will allow teens to supply wholesale baked goods to businesses in the Milwaukee area. A background on Farmfork: Neu-Life’s Farmfork program is a hands-on, urban agriculture and culinary arts program addressing issues of health and the environment while exposing teens to entrepreneurial opportunities through after-school programming. We employ an experiential approach that also develops 21st century “soft skills” for 150 youth in Milwaukee’s near north side neighborhoods.
Farmfork provides a combination of experiential opportunities to grow, cook, and develop food products for sale combined with traditional, classroom-based lessons that provide context to food systems with an emphasis on issues of health, equity and the environment. For example, youth compete in “Iron Chef” like competitions throughout the year and the program culminates with a four course plated meal prepared and served by the youth and open to the public, the Farmfork Feast. Farmfork has received generous funding from Impact100 to make renovations bringing the educational kitchen up to commercial code.
With the renovation phase finished, Neu-Life seeks $7000 to complete final licensing and inspections as well as to purchase commercial grade mixers needed launch the Wholesale Baked Goods Project. Once these steps are complete, the youth can begin offering wholesale baked goods to businesses year-round, increasing the revenue generating capacity of the Farmfork program and increasing the opportunity to gain entrepreneurial training and skill. With this Project being 92% funded and complete already, we feel that the Farmfork – Wholesale Baked Goods Project has the successful track record and capacity for growth to be an excellent candidate for this award.
Near West Side Storefront Build
Near West Side Partners
We all remember ‘Extreme Makeover Home Edition’ from the early 2000s. Now it is time to introduce Milwaukee to a new makeover challenge: the storefront edition, also known as the Near West Side Storefront Build. The Near West Side Partners Executive Director and Associate Director have been working alongside the Commercial Corridor Working Team to bring this concept to life.
Specifically, we aim to engage businesses and residents along the Vliet and 27th Street corridors in projects that improve the appearance and viability of commercial storefronts, including the development and implementation of a day-long corridor and storefront improvement project (modeled after the Near West Side mini-Block Build for residential homes, completed in November 2017). This project will transform a block along the commercial corridor by targeting property owners of underutilized and/or vacant storefronts in need of improvements. Improvements may include facade work, new signs, landscaping, or interior improvements to prepare the building for tenants. Working with a team of local business owners, Near West Side residents, and volunteers, the buildings will be rehabbed during a one-day event.
By focusing on a single block, the improvements will have a greater visual impact and help those interested in opening a business see the potential along the corridor. By including Near West Side residents and volunteers in the effort, we hope to build a greater sense of community and ownership of these public spaces.
The Near West Side Storefront Build is a legacy project capable of creating a BIG impact in the Near West Side and more importantly, creating a model for how other neighborhoods can activate vacant or underutilized spaces and build community in the process. Near West Side Partners has had success in bringing in new businesses and creating buzz worthy programs (ie: Rev-Up MKE) and this is the next frontier….so, to 27th Street and beyond!
BeYou Mobile Career Networking Platform
Targeted at Gen Z, BeYou is a mobile career networking platform that empowers high school and college students to define, visualize and accelerate their career path by connecting them to professional mentors and companies who intend to hire these students. Additionally, BeYou provides value to companies seeking to build their employment brand with the future workforce by facilitating a more effective means to connect with and attract emerging talent that share similar passion and values.
From thousands of interactions, we’ve witnessed how driven high school and college students are for things that matter—including their future success. Millions of students are building valuable skills every day with no way to aggregate their experiences, build credibility and make critical career connections. BeYou solves that for this underserved audience. High school seniors and college undergrads will be early users as they have the most pressing need to convey their skills, build their network and and land their first internship job.
Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative
One-Street Outreach (OSO) is a hyperlocal community engagement strategy that aims to build and strengthen community relationships and empower Clarke Square Neighbors (residents and business owners). OSO leverages and maximizes existing resources, putting decision-making and community building in the hands of the people most impacted by the resources available.
Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative (CSNI) staff will collaborate with Safe & Sound Community Organizers and Children’s Hospital Community Health Navigators to build relationships with and between Clarke Square neighbors in the area of S 25th Street between W Pierce Street and W Greenfield Avenue.
Staff from these organizations will begin mail and door-to-door outreach to residents and property owners in March. Through a mutual exchange of knowledge, the staff from these organizations will learn more about how Clarke Square neighbors see their community and what types of projects they would like to bring to fruition in their area. Neighbors will learn about resources available to them. In addition, they will not only learn about opportunities to engage with other residents and business owners in the neighborhood but also create these opportunities themselves.
CSNI and its partner organizations will present a variety of opportunities and ideas for how the Big Impact grant dollars could be utilized. Rather than pre-determine the project or projects to be completed in this area, we want to ensure that the neighbors choose for themselves.
Neighbors will likely come up with their own ways they would like to apply the grant dollars, but a few possibilities include block parties, block unity projects (e.g. address plaques), green infrastructure projects (e.g. streetside landscaping), forming an exercise group, community gardens, and public art. Several other partner agencies of CSNI are prepared to support this effort through their organizations’ work, including Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, the City of Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office, and Artists Working Education, among others.
Long-lasting community engagement and community building efforts such as this typically happen over a long period of time. We are hopeful that the resources made available through the Big Impact grant will serve a catalytic purpose in achieving some early “wins” that translate in the long term into more social cohesion among neighbors in the area. A few of the desired outcomes of this effort include the following:
• Strengthen relationships between Clarke Square neighbors themselves, and between Clarke Square neighbors and organizations working in Clarke Square
• Increase the familiarity of organizations working in Clarke Square with neighbors through focused and intentional engagement
• Grow and mobilize the leadership and organizing capacity of neighbors
Note: The 25th Street area was chosen as a focus of this outreach strategy based in part on existing momentum from 2017 (e.g. neighbors beginning to mobilize, two problem properties addressed), existing assets (e.g. business owners on and near 25th Street, art studio and newly-stalled mural at 25th and National), and the needs/challenges that remain (sex trafficking and the related drug activity).
There are approximately 243 residential units on 120 residential and mixed-use properties in the neighborhood. Just under half of these properties are owner-occupied, a ratio consistent with the entire geography of Clarke Square.
OSO is designed similar to Revitalize Milwaukee’s Block Build MKE, a home improvement initiative that focuses on making necessary repairs for homeowners who are veterans, disabled, over the age of 60, or low-income. The purpose of Revitalize Milwaukee’s Block Build MKE is to concentrate services on a focused geography in order to have the greatest social and visual impact.
Similar to Revitalize Milwaukee’s Block Build MKE, OSO seeks to have a significant impact on a specific geography while simultaneously building social cohesion and affirming residents’ dignity. Block Build MKE focuses on necessary home repairs for the target population, whereas OSO will present a variety of resources and opportunities that neighbors may want to pursue. The direction of the initiative will be guided by the energy of the neighbors. This may include, but will not be limited to, necessary home repairs.