January Letter from the President
We had an exciting membership meeting in January, with Mayor Barrett and Reggie Moore highlighting Milwaukee’s plan for reducing and preventing violence within our communities through the Blueprint for Peace. They walked through the six goals and key strategies. I had the honor of serving on the Steering Committee for the Blueprint for Peace along with other GMC members, businesses, non-profits, and foundations. Now more than ever, we need to address the issue of violence in Milwaukee. Violence is a public health issue, and when it affects one of us, is affects us all -the economy, education, and the vibrancy of our communities, all issues we are extremely passionate about. This community-wide plan identifies actions to reduce violence and build stronger communities.
Goal #1 of the Blueprint is “Stop the Shooting. Stop the Violence.” The best way we know how to do that is to interrupt the cycle of violence our communities are experiencing. Based on the violence reduction strategies we have seen in large metro areas such as Chicago and New York City, The Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) deemed a violence interrupters program to be a first step in reduction in Milwaukee, called Ceasefire, one integral piece of the Blueprint. Utilizing violence interrupters, those who have experienced violence and trauma and are now willing to prevent it, work to interrupt a violent situation before it escalates.
This New York Times article quotes an interrupter as saying “You don’t go preaching — you build relationships and bond with them,” he said, “It takes time.” And, over time violence interrupters have proven to be successful in areas like Chicago, whose Cure Violence model has seen a 41-73% drop in shootings and killings in Cure Violence zones. Milwaukee’s Ceasefire program, modeled after the Cure Violence model, aims to do the same.
Ceasefire is currently planned to launch in two of Milwaukee’s most violent neighborhoods. Many of you have asked how you can support the Blueprint and its efforts. The City of Milwaukee Health Department’s Office of Violence Prevention is currently fundraising for the second site of Ceasefire. This program uses violence interrupters to deescalate heated situations before they become violent. For a better understanding on violence interrupters, please watch this PBS Documentary, called “The Interrupters”, highlighting their work. It truly is a remarkable and successful concept, having aided in the 16% reduction in violence in Chicago, overall.
The OVP needs $280,000 to facilitate a second site of interrupters. If you are inclined to give, gifts can be made to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation Violence Prevention Fund by contacting Mark Maurice at firstname.lastname@example.org or 414-336-7067.
Special recognition should be given to those who participated in and funded the planning process, including a grant from the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment, with partial funding from the Tides Foundation and ReCAST Milwaukee. We’d also like to recognize Bader Philanthropies for a gift of $100k, announced immediately following the release of the Blueprint, Google, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Baird, Priebe Family Foundation, Anon Charitable Trust and the Croens Foundation for their generous gifts to aid in the creation of the Blueprint. Additional thanks to the Common Council, the Office of Violence Prevention, Mayor Barrett and the City of Milwaukee, President Hamilton, Milwaukee Public Schools, Milwaukee County, and the community. I’d also like to thank the steering committee, including GMC members Ellen Gilligan, Peggy Troy, and Mary Lou Young, as well as Amy and Fred Croen, and Les Weil for their diligent and committed efforts towards this Blueprint.