The Greater Milwaukee Foundation has pledged $15 million to kick off a 5-year, $30 million effort to invest in businesses, affordable housing and education, and combat the city’s racial disparities.

That money could serve as starter loans to small businesses founded by people of color in Milwaukee neighborhoods, or up-front investments in real estate developments with a positive social impact, for example. Some of the money to be deployed in the near term will help communities of color recover from economic damaged caused by the pandemic.

“The Covid-19 outbreak coupled with large-scale civil demonstrations for racial justice have only heightened the need for greater action and investment in our local communities,” said Ellen Gilligan, foundation president and CEO.

The foundation has committed $15 million in resources toward the investment pool, and is seeking additional donors to raise an equal amount, said Kristen Mekemson, Greater Milwaukee Foundation vice president of development and philanthropic services. It builds off the foundation’s 2016 commitment to promote racial equity and inclusion.

“This is a financial investment, but it is also for the neighborhood a community investment to say someone from the community is creating a business, is rehabbing a building, and it’s the kind of investment that spurs other investment,” Mekemson said. Read the full story here.