“My Brother’s Keeper” Tour: Showcasing programs that improve the lives of black men in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — It was an effort to showcase programs being implemented to help improve the lives of black men in Milwaukee. On Tuesday, August 26th, Milwaukee Alderman Ashanti Hamilton and Mayor Tom Barrett hosted a special site tour, called “the My Brother’s Keeper – Black Male Achievement Advisory Council Site Tour.” The tour continues Wednesday.

The Milwaukee site visit began Tuesday with the groundbreaking for the new Northwestern Mutual Life (NML) Tower and Commons project.

Construction crews will soon begin building the $450 million NML headquarters in downtown Milwaukee. As a result, many jobs will be created, at least 40% of which will be reserved for city of Milwaukee residents.

“Kicking our tour off at NML is not only indicative of Milwaukee’s economic growth prospects, but provides a direct visual link to the training and employment opportunities our visitors will witness throughout the day,” Alderman Hamilton said.

A news conference was held later Tuesday afternoon during the “Milwaukee Builds” graduation ceremony.

The "Milwaukee Builds" program connects workers in Milwaukee with job opportunities in government, not-for-profit agencies and the private sector.

The 45 people graduating from the program on Tuesday have completed the program, and are ready to take on jobs in the community. Some of the dozens of people graduating have earned certifications that make them eligible for jobs at the Northwestern Mutual construction site.

"None of this seems possible. It seems surreal right now. It's a privilege and a blessing to be be talking to you right now and to share my words with the community and somebody who watches this TV station tonight and I can inspire them and I can look forward to the future," Milwaukee Builds graduate Lushion Chappell said.

Alderman Hamilton said the Milwaukee Builds graduation, marking the successful end of an intensive construction jobs training initiative, was a fitting setting for the news conference.

“There are a number of best practices recognized by the (National League of Cities) and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and the city of Milwaukee is attempting to expand on our own local initiatives that follow the strategic practices recognized by those nationally-recognized and successful programs and efforts,” he said.

Other key stops during the site tour included:

  • Milwaukee Builds. Milwaukee Builds is administered by the city in collaboration with the Milwaukee Christian Center and Northcott Neighborhood House. It provides skilled apprenticeships to the building trades, utilizing on-the-job training and a Department of Labor approved educational and certification curriculum. The program trains on average 80 low-income residents annually, and 93% of participants are people of color.
  • Department of Public works Community Work Partnership. This program will be a jobs model focusing on both training and employment (potentially transitional) similar to The Dombrowski Landscape Training Initiative (DLTI). Named after a former city employee who donated his estate to the City, the DLTI offers paid on-the-job training and an opportunity to earn special certifications in urban forestry. Launched in 2014, DLTI plans to recruit 30 participants who will be training on city tax foreclosed lots. After training is completed, there is an opportunity for seasonal employment.
  • Men’s Health Center. The City of Milwaukee Health Department offers a one-stop shop for Milwaukee’s men. Services include assistance and referrals for a broad range of issues, from blood pressure to housing. A Public Health Nurse is available to deliver health promoting check-ups to individuals and prevention education to groups.

On Wednesday, August 27th, the site tour will include the meeting of the Black Male Achievement Advisory Council (BMAAC). The committee will hear presentations from the city’s Homicide Review Commission, the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative and the Be the Change/Safe Sons Collaborative.

In 2013, the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families selected Milwaukee and 10 other cities from a pool of 28 applicants to receive assistance as the cities work to reduce disparities between black males and their peers.

Over the course of the past 16 months, the NLC has provided technical assistance to assist city leaders as they’ve worked to develop and implement focused, cross-sector plans that are targeted toward meeting the needs of disadvantaged black male residents.

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