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What is the Milwaukee Rescue Mission?

Since 1893, the Milwaukee Rescue Mission has tackled Milwaukee’s poverty and homelessness issues head‐on by serving the community with compassion, care, excellence and expertise all in Christ’s name. We offer food, clothing, shelter and transformative programs that equip those who are homeless to get off the streets and turn their lives around.  We offer short‐ and long‐term assistance, education, counseling, help in overcoming substance abuse, job training, spiritual development and enrichment on the good news of the Gospel which we believe is the key to lasting change.  In essence, we take a cradle‐to‐career approach in the present to give hope for the future.

What is Cross Trainers Academy?

In 2006, the Milwaukee Rescue Mission opened Cross Trainers Academy (CTA), a school on MRM’s Main Campus, for at‐risk children in Milwaukee. CTA provides low‐income children with an excellent, Christian‐based education that will equip them with academic, social, emotional and spiritual tools for life. Since its inception a decade ago, CTA has grown from 29 students in grades K4 through second grade to almost 350 students in K4 through 12th grade.  Originally located at MRM’s Main Campus, CTA is now located at MRM’s North Campus.

Where does MRM receive its funding?

The Milwaukee Rescue Mission receives its funding from private donations, including financial gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations and churches; employer matching gifts; planned gifts; honors and memorials; donated items of need; and special event fundraisers. The Milwaukee Rescue Mission receives no government funding for its shelter programs and depends on the support of friends from the community to serve those who are poor and homeless in Milwaukee. CTA participates in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which allows eligible low‐income students to enroll in participating private schools. CTA receives state aid payments for each eligible student, as well as payments for school meals and transportation. However, there is an annual operating gap between these payments and what it costs to educate each child. This gap is supported through the fundraising activities of the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.

What is the Thrive Capital Campaign and why is it necessary?

The Milwaukee Rescue Mission’s Thrive campaign is a building campaign to transform lives, families and community in zip code 53206, otherwise known as the Lindsay Heights neighborhood.  This neighborhood faces serious challenges for its residents—poverty, high rates of unemployment and incarceration, inadequate housing, limited opportunities, and general brokenness and despair.

The Milwaukee Rescue Mission believes that education is essential to break the cycle of poverty, violence, substance abuse and homelessness. Education has always been a core component in MRM’s long‐term rehabilitation programs for men and women who are homeless.  We have the infrastructure, resources, expertise and calling to help this community thrive. Capitalizing on our experience, it is natural to transfer the successes of our shelter and educational programs at our Main Campus to expanded services at our new North Campus.  

The Thrive capital campaign will support a 48,510 square foot expansion of the CTA North Campus addressing the needs of residents of all ages.  The expansion will offer infrastructure improvements to the current campus and allow MRM to be an institutional anchor for ministry to the neighborhood that will provide everything from affordable grocery options to a high‐quality vocational high school.  In short, it will be a central resource hub for this struggling community.  The cost of the entire project is $17 million.  MRM has invested $4.7 million to the overall project leaving $13 million to raise in charitable support. The Thrive capital campaign fundraising timeline is from April 2017 through December 2018. 

How is MRM sharing its mission with community partners and the neighborhood to build awareness and engagement in the services offered at the North Campus?

MRM has partnered with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Milwaukee and area businesses (coffee shops and restaurants) in the neighborhood in an effort to educate the residents about the services available at MRM’s North Campus.  We also have partnered with Parenting Network, Children’s Hospital and Sojourner Truth Family Peace Center to offer seminars and presentations to our school parents on parenting, trauma, domestic violence, time management and developing organizational skills, among other topics.  As more services are offered at MRM’s North Campus, we will continue to reach out to make the community and our partners aware of the available resources.

How will MRM’s high school succeed for kids in this community where others have failed, and how is success measured?

One thing that makes CTA unique is its caring staff that has a specific calling to serve at‐risk children. CTA administrators and teachers recognize that many students face significant barriers to education, with more than one‐quarter of CTA students having experienced homelessness. As a result, a high percentage of CTA students have chronic learning disabilities and special education needs.  The CTA high school is tailored for this low‐income, at‐risk student population and works with struggling students to reach their full potential.  The staff encourages improved attendance, homework completion, after‐school tutoring sessions, credit recovery options and regularly communicates with parents about the importance of these areas in students' overall success. 

Because a sizeable portion of CTA’s student population has experienced homelessness or faces significant barriers to education, standardized test scores are only one measure used to define growth.  When comparing test scores of CTA students to other schools serving similar at‐risk student populations, CTA students compare favorably.  More helpful indicators of success are the STAR assessments, which are used to measure individual student achievement levels in the areas of math and reading.  The STAR assessments are administered multiple times a year and demonstrate the academic growth of each individual. CTA’s goal for its students is 1.5 years of growth during one school year.  Additionally, staff members look for spiritual, emotional and social growth to help determine success.  Growth in these areas is measured by assessing the number of referrals to the office during the course of the year and through informal assessments of student progress. Because our class sizes are small (generally no more than 20 students in a class), teachers and other staff members are able to know students well, deal with issues that are impacting growth and celebrate success when it is achieved.  Additionally, for students receiving services from Aurora through a trauma grant, counselors use an emotional rating scale to track progress in these areas.

Our goal for students at CTA is that more than 80% of students will graduate and enroll in a post‐high school program, whether it is in a vocational program for a trade or technical career or postsecondary education. Another goal for CTA students is that 80% would be taking one or more classes at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) while enrolled at CTA. 

With such ambitious planning and growth, leadership succession is going to be very important. What is the plan for this?

Organizationally, MRM has experienced significant growth over the past decade.  The need in the community continues, the program offerings have increased, and the budget has grown significantly.  In response to continued need and organizational growth, a leadership restructuring was implemented in 2015.  A layer of top leadership was added to the organization in order to address the increased operational needs as well as the need to have a succession plan in place. 

How are the expansion plans addressing safety issues both inside North Campus buildings and across the entire campus grounds?

MRM shelters up to 400 men, women and children every night.  Due to the safety demands of sheltering this population, MRM staff is well‐versed in handling differing security issues on a regular basis.  MRM will continue to partner with neighborhood organizations and maintain a visible presence in the community in order to build relationships with neighbors in an effort to enhance security.  Regarding safety at CTA, MRM plans to add additional leadership staff, including assistant dean staff positions.  These new hires will focus on maintaining a strong student culture.  Students want to be at our school because they know that expectations for appropriate behavior and academic effort are high.  Additionally, security staff will continue to play an important role in maintaining a safe campus.  As we make changes to the physical campus, close attention is also being paid to entrance and exit procedures and parking options for both staff members and visitors. 

What happens to our gift if we do not reach our goal?

In the unlikely event the campaign does not reach its ultimate goal, the funds raised toward that goal will be used for the most necessary priorities to expand the North Campus.

How will the Thrive campaign impact the annual fund?

The annual costs associated with MRM programs, services and resources we provide to those we serve can be as much as $13,000,000 each year.  These ongoing costs require that annual fund efforts also continue in order to support the overall MRM mission.  Therefore, support of MRM’s Thrive campaign must be over‐and‐above regular annual giving.  MRM will continue to rely on donations from individuals, businesses, churches and foundations to fund regular operational expenses. 

How can I help?

The Milwaukee Rescue Mission has enjoyed a long history of support from individuals, businesses, churches and foundations.  We ask that you consider supporting the Thrive campaign. Your gift to this project will help ensure that hundreds of men, women and children in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood of Milwaukee will have access to necessary resources to help them step out of poverty into hope.  Monetary gifts and gifts‐in‐kind will make this project possible.  You can support the Thrive campaign with a one‐time gift, a multi‐year pledge, a planned gift or a gift of stocks/securities.  Also, you can consider our Named Gift Opportunities.  If you would like more information on any of these gift options, please contact Amy Halcomb at (414) 935‐0238.

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How will you maintain operating costs once the North Campus Expansion is complete?

To continue providing cradle‐to‐career support for those we serve, the Milwaukee Rescue Mission has raised an operating surplus of $1,000,000 each of the last six years.  Through God’s provision and the generosity of our faithful friends, we have been blessed with this surplus and will continue the fundraising strategies that helped make it possible.  This surplus provides MRM with the capacity to expand programs at the North Campus.  One of these programs is our state‐licensed, YoungStar‐rated Child Enrichment Center, which serves children from 4 weeks to 4 years old, and will generate $300,000 ‐ $400,000 net revenue per year when completed.  Beyond the $1,000,000 operating surplus and Child Enrichment Center net revenue, another boost to operating revenue is the additional estimated $2,000,000 through vouchers from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. A five‐year proforma has been completed to account for all estimated costs and requisite funds going forward to 2021.