Formed in 1961, the Zilber Family Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the well-being of individuals, families, and neighborhoods, with a primary focus on Milwaukee. Its current priority is the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative, which seeks to support the people who live and work in Milwaukee neighborhoods as they create and carry out plans for improving the quality of community life.
In 2008, with the personal involvement of real estate developer and philanthropist, Joseph J. Zilber, the Foundation identified local champions—nonprofit leaders trusted by their neighbors—and funded them to organize and involve people in neighborhood planning. We supported the organizations to develop attractive Quality of Life Plans that reflect the hopes and dreams of those most affected by local conditions. These QLPs also serve as blueprints for improving the social, economic, and physical conditions in defined areas, initially 110 blocks on the north side in Lindsay Heights and 35 blocks on the south side in Clarke Square. In 2010 the Foundation added 135 blocks to the Initiative’s footprint on the south side, working with local leaders in the Layton Boulevard West neighborhoods of Layton Park, Burnham Park, and Silver City to develop a third Quality of Life Plan.
The Foundation supports implementation of the QLPs in several ways. We award flexible multi-year funding to local lead agencies for staff and organizational development; provide seed money to get projects started; and spend approximately 75% of staff time in neighborhoods, assisting with project design and management issues and participating on local work groups. The Foundation also supports intermediary organizations, such as LISC Milwaukee and United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee, to work across communities. These citywide nonprofits are able to contribute public funds, expertise, and other resources. Taken together, the overall purpose of the Initiative is to strengthen citizen engagement and build the capacity of local nonprofits to achieve their goals, now and into the future.
Through public events, media outreach, talks to civic and community groups, other presentations, volunteer recruitment, and funding partnerships, the Foundation seeks to raise awareness of the many opportunities to participate in improving Milwaukee neighborhoods. We also aim to leverage our investments 3:1. Since 2008, the Foundation has awarded $17 million and helped organizations raise more than $43 million in additional resources; encouraged greater collaborative action to support neighborhood revitalization; and worked with a wide range of colleagues to tackle some of the political and logistical challenges affecting community development in Milwaukee.
The Foundation’s board and staff are ever-mindful of our collective responsibility to honor the legacy of Vera and Joseph Zilber. They loved Milwaukee, its neighborhoods, and its people. Joe Zilber believed in the city’s potential and wanted all of its people and places to prosper. He and those he charged to carry out his vision also understood that it was going to take a lot of money, a lot of hard work, and a lot of heart to get the job done.
Phone: (414) 274-447
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