The Milwaukee Debate League trains students for rigorous academic debate to help them strengthen their mental faculties and improve their self-esteem. Completing research in preparation for debates informs them about the world, and engaging in debates with their peers builds communication skills that translate to future careers. The centerpiece of the program, seven citywide debate tournaments, pits students against other teams to debate a specific policy topic and share their ideas about social issues. The Milwaukee Debate League also hosts other opportunities for students to learn research and articulation skills, including a summer institute, a leadership council, and the MDL Scholars Program, which engages high-school students in high-level research at Marquette University. Following a period of declining participation, the Milwaukee Debate League relaunched in 2011 and now works with 14 high schools in the area.
Meta House, a nationally recognized, gender-responsive residential treatment facility, supports women and their children through the process of recovery from substance abuse.
As one of the only treatment centers in Wisconsin that allows children to reside with their mothers as they undergo treatment, Meta House aims to support children, rebuild families, and end the cycle of intergenerational substance abuse. While mothers undergo treatment—including parenting courses and health education—children up to 10 years old learn interpersonal skills and receive interventional services if necessary in a facility next door. When not in class, women are responsible for preparing meals for their children, giving baths, and delegating chores, to ensure they are able to establish the basis of a healthy family routine.
Make A Difference – Wisconsin trains students to become financially literate to help ensure that they make sound decisions as adults. The organization recruits volunteers from the business community and teaches them how to interact with the students during educational sessions held throughout the school year. Volunteers teach the students a variety of money-management skills during seminars on budgeting and saving, understanding checking accounts, and understanding credits cards, reports, and history. Make A Difference has delivered its program to 26,000 students in the last six years. The results it has collected from the last three years include reports from graduates who have been inspired to open savings accounts and who share tips from the program with friends and family members.
With the help of hundreds of volunteers, The Gathering of Southeast WI, Inc. serves 10 free meals each week to those who might otherwise go hungry. In 2011, the breakfast program—the only service of its kind in the area—gave away more than 50,000 meals from three inner-city locations. The sites also serve dinner twice a week, as well as lunch on Saturday. All food is prepared fresh daily. All told, The Gathering provides meals to approximately 100,000 people experiencing homelessness or hunger each year.
Two young participants of the PAL program pair off with a shelter dog, which they train to become a well-mannered member of an adoptive family. During training, children are empowered with the responsibility of caring for the animals, learning to respect them and better understand their behavior. Children can then teach their peers about the need to prevent animal guardians from practicing cruelty and neglect. WHS requires additional funding to purchase supplies for dog training, as well as transportation and snacks for PAL participants.
On Saturday, September 22, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett will gather local businesses, community leaders, and citizens between the two bridge houses of the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge. There, he will ceremonially raise its steel structure and announce a mission to revitalize the street. Following the ceremony, more than 20 motorboats and sailboats will surge down the river and under the bridge, each decked out in Milwaukee-themed decorations and bright colors. Near the bridge, Historical Society members will stage a reenactment of the Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845 and initiate a game of tug of war across the street; on the bridge, meanwhile, trainers from Gold’s Gym will lead lightly sweating groups through yoga poses.
Visitors drink and dine to the sounds of live music and multicultural dance performances as well as the sights of a one-act play on two stages on the Riverwalk. They can browse local vendors at a craft market, explore permanent sculpture installations, and stroke their chins while gazing at art pieces in paint, photography, blown glass, and other media from more than 50 local artists at booths along both sides of the river. As the crowd mills about throughout the event, artists from the Plein Aire Painters’ Association make art live, painting the beautiful city skyline and buzzing groups of people. A complimentary water taxi runs between both Riverwalks throughout the day’s festivities.