Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Milwaukee Bucks Launch Foundation

It's been a busy, and very sad start to 2016. Deaths of celebrities (athletes and musicians) and many, too many, every day citizens, have dominated my experience so far. But last week I saw something that brightened my spirits, especially for Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Bucks have taken a positive step towards becoming more involved in the community with the launch of the Milwaukee Bucks Foundation.

I'll admit right off the bat that I am not a fan of the NBA, professional basketball, so I may have been a bit biased, but one thing I have noted personally and here is that the Bucks compared to other local teams - especially the Admirals, Brewers, and Packers - lacked a certain presence in the community. Maybe ts a basketball thing in general, as I said I wouldn't be as aware as if I was a bigger fan. Sure they have a smaller roster (well compared to Baseball and Football, but certainly not hockey) so I guess it makes sense that more players = easier to get a few of them involved. But then again, there's hockey, and the Admirals for an arguably lesser sport, in a lesser level league, seemed to have a bigger impact, or at least make a stronger attempt even with less resources.

Yet, the Bucks often wondered publicly why their support was less, but in turn they provided less support to the community. I always thought they went hand in hand. To get the support of Milwaukee they needed to better support us first. I am hoping this will be a step towards that.

The Milwaukee Bucks formally launched the team’s first-ever charitable foundation on June 6, 2016 in a special announcement at the Pieper-Hillside Boys & Girls Club in Milwaukee. The new Milwaukee Bucks Foundation, which launches with the mission of improving the quality of life for youth and families in Wisconsin, will focus its attention on three areas of critical need: youth education; youth health and wellness; and community betterment.

“Our entire organization is committed to making a difference in the community and we understand the responsibility we have to give back,” Bucks co-owner Jamie Dinan said. “We often talk about being champions on the court, but we strive just as hard to be champions for change in the community as well. There are so many great programs and initiatives working to make a difference that can benefit from our team’s involvement and resources. We look forward to building innovative community partnerships through the Milwaukee Bucks Foundation that will improve the quality of live for youth and families throughout Wisconsin.”

The Milwaukee Bucks Foundation’s focus on youth and families in the areas of education, health and wellness, and community betterment was borne out of a critical need for services to help address systemic issues of poverty and segregation, not only within the city of Milwaukee but across the entire state. The Foundation will develop and support initiatives ranging from literacy and school attendance (education), to anti-bullying campaigns and athletic clinics (health and wellness), to workforce development and neighborhood safety project (community development) in an effort to provide better outcomes for children and families in Milwaukee and throughout the state.

In conjunction with today’s launch the foundation announced three initial grants of $25,000 each to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Penfield Children’s Center and MKE Plays – three organizations who are representative of the three pillars of focus for the foundation. The Foundation will award future grants on an annual basis to organizations based in Wisconsin providing services that will further the Foundation’s mission in these areas of critical need. For more information on the Milwaukee Bucks Foundation’s grant guidelines, eligibility requirements and application process, visit www.bucks.com/foundation.

Additionally, the Bucks announced a new employee engagement initiative at the event. Dubbed “Volun-Deers,” the new program will encourage Bucks front office employees to make community involvement a regular practice. Each Bucks employee will receive 16 hours per year of paid time away from the office to volunteer in the community. The Foundation will identify opportunities throughout the year to mobilize Bucks staff to make a difference, while also assisting employees to identify causes and volunteer opportunities that align with their individual interests.

To be fair, all along many players, coaches, and other personnel have been involved in some manner, we just may have missed or overlooked their efforts. It is great to see the Bucks have a more public face to their efforts so that we can take pride in a team that takes pride in its community. We all hope they continue to give back to make up for what they are taking from us for their new arena. If they can show they support us as much as they want us to support them, the launch of the new arena can be a great thing for Milwaukee.