January 12, 2016

Happy New Year Friends!

Just two weeks into 2016, and we have made a big stride towards our 2020 goals.

Last Thursday our Operations Team used a new meeting format to increase engagement, commitment and accountability. It was a big hit! Thanks to leadership from Paul Schmitz, we have clearer roles and responsibilities for the team, and provided important feedback to advance the work of Goal 1 (kindergarten readiness), Goal 3 (college/career access and success), and the Communications Team. 

More on this at a later date, but I want to introduce our guest columnist for this week’s “Hey it’s Danae!” – Ellen Gilligan, President and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. The Foundation launched Milwaukee Succeeds and serves as our backbone organization. In case you didn’t know, the GMF Board has fiduciary responsibility for Milwaukee Succeeds, and Milwaukee Succeeds staff (and yours truly!) are GMF employees.

Ellen has really helped make Milwaukee Succeeds a true manifestation of GMF’s commitment:  addressing critical needs and issues including education, neighborhood and community development, race relations and safety net services. Thank you Ellen for kicking off 2016 with a message to the team!

See you soon,


Ellen GilliganIt was only last spring that I enthusiastically welcomed Danae as the new Executive Director of Milwaukee Succeeds. Eight months later, I have this fabulous opportunity to thank her for her leadership and to reflect on the journey of Milwaukee Succeeds and the importance of our work together.
Five years ago, there was no Milwaukee Succeeds. Dedicated teachers were still teaching. Community leaders were still interested in improving educational outcomes. Volunteers still donated their time and skills. The assets and desire were there, but coordination and adherence to common goals and strategies were unrealized.
Recognizing that helping all children succeed requires a community-wide response, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation convened key stakeholders and partners across all school sectors, government, nonprofits, business, philanthropy and civic organizations to introduce a new approach to improving education outcomes in Milwaukee.
It was a pivotal moment when the Foundation launched Milwaukee Succeeds in 2011 to provide that organizing force and begin to align needed resources. The Foundation has served as the backbone organization for Milwaukee Succeeds ever since, and the effort is standing tall and taking root thanks to the power of partnership. The most inspiring part is that as we recruited our co-chairs, volunteer leadership and partners, not one person said “no.” There was urgency and agreement to work together to make a lasting difference for kids in our city. Because everyone was willing to come to the table, we have a success story in the making.

Through Milwaukee Succeeds, hundreds of individuals and organizations are utilizing best practices, striving toward common goals and measuring progress. Together, we’ve help set a course to help all children succeed, from cradle to career.

Milwaukee Succeeds embodies the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s commitment to education, rooted in 100 years of history. We believe in ensuring all children in our community can reach their full potential. Where there are barriers, we must overcome them. Where there are resource needs, we must meet them. Where there are limited opportunities, we must expand them.

This is not the work of one institution, one foundation, one sector, one school.  It is our community’s work. At the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, we believe we are Greater Together.
Milwaukee Succeeds is at the heart of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, and you are at the heart of Milwaukee Succeeds.Thank you for all you do.

Ellen Gilligan, President and CEO
Greater Milwaukee Foundation


If someone forwarded you this “Hey it’s Danae” message and you would like to receive it directly, please send your email address to Kia Towns. Thanks!


Milwaukee Succeeds is a broad-based, communitywide collaboration that aims to improve educational outcomes for every child in Milwaukee, in every school, cradle to career.
Copyright © 2016 Milwaukee Succeeds, All rights reserved.

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