Milwaukee – Thirty-one donors committed more than $182,000 in funding to 13 grantee partners at Siebert Lutheran Foundation’s fourth annual Collaborators’ Event on Nov. 9 at the Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin Milwaukee food distribution warehouse.

Part of the Siebert Serves initiative, the Collaborators’ Event is an innovative gathering designed to build a community of donors that can jointly increase their philanthropic impact by bringing greater resources to Lutheran churches, schools and nonprofit organizations.

At the event, donors — including individuals, families and foundations — had the opportunity to listen to grantee partners pitch their organizations via video interviews, making a case for why they should receive funding. Donors then were able to identify where their contributions would have the most impact and give directly to them.

Thanks to a generous gift from a private donor, five students from Journeys Lutheran School participated in the event as grant-makers, enabling them at a young age to understand the impact that philanthropy can make on a community. Five students representing Wisconsin Lutheran College also participated as grant-makers thanks to a gift from the college.

Journeys Lutheran School student Natalie G. said: “This was exciting because we are helping people and also making opportunities for people. These organizations are worthy of this support because they are dedicated to helping and making a difference in people’s lives. I learned that there are so many organizations to help people and to change things in so many different ways.”

“It was inspiring seeing the generosity of other donors,” said donor Lori Lorenz, who participated for the second year. “The Collaborators’ Event inspires you to give more, and in fact we gave more than what we had planned to when we arrived. As the event progressed, we thought ‘Let’s hit the mark.’ I’m glad we did.”

A bell rang each time a donation for a grantee reached $12,000 to mark a goal that was set at the start of the event. In just two hours, the event raised $282,850, including a $100,000 matching grant from Siebert Lutheran Foundation.

Building, Stronger Healthier Communities

The 13 grantee partners who received funding will use it to build stronger and healthier communities through their collaborative efforts, impactful initiatives and innovative approaches, including Project RETURN. Project RETURN works to help individuals who have experienced incarceration make a positive, permanent return to community, family and friends. They successfully introduced peer-led Circles of Support, with one of the most active circles serving at Hephatha Lutheran Church in Milwaukee’s 53206 ZIP code, which has the highest percentage of incarcerated Black men in the country.

Other organizations who received funding were:

• ATK Ministry

•The Center for Urban Teaching

• Christian Family Solutions

• Cross Lutheran Church

•Ebenezer Stone Ministries

  Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin

• Institutional Ministries

• The International Lutheran Church of Zion

• JobsWork MKE

• Kingdom Prep Lutheran High School

• St. Marcus Lutheran School

  Serenity Inns

Siebert Foundation President Charlotte John-Gómez said, “The Collaborators’ Event is a true testament to our mission in action and the shared belief that our community is better when we work collaboratively to invest in our neighbors so they are able to fulfill their full potential.”

“It’s remarkable how one day can have such a big impact, and I’m proud to be part of this organization,” said Dr. Joan Prince, board chair of Siebert Lutheran Foundation. “We are recognizing organizations that are genuine change-makers and fostering a new, collaborative approach to giving that is a model for the future of philanthropy.”