All for One and One for All

Written by Ken Leinbach
    Tuesday, 07 November 2017
All for One and One for All

We talk a lot about the impact of the work you help us do, as we should, because it’s impressive. Together we’re improving academic performance in our students. Community pride abounds. Crime is diminished. Land is healed. Jobs are created and a whole lot of learning happens. Kids, who would be inside watching a screen are outside in nature laughing, learning, and playing.

I am incredibly thankful for all we have done together, and while I can talk all day of our accomplishments, this article is a little different.

This time, I'd like to focus on being transparent about how we make ends meet. How we pay our high quality staff and continue to invest in making an impact. And most importantly, what we need from our community to help our aspirations for Milwaukee come to fruition.

Right now we serve three regions of the city well, but we'd like to be serving the whole city. We have a long-term vision to see every kid in Milwaukee have the opportunity to participate in Urban Ecology Center-style programming every school year. We envision every family having easy access to the kind of environmental education that we provide.

Ours is an entrepreneurial nonprofit, meaning that we have created something unique. It works due to a mix of revenue sources: your donations, school contracts, memberships, service fees, building rentals, grants, fundraisers and corporate sponsorships. Our revenue almost exactly matches our expenses. We run a tight ship. To pull off this larger vision for all of Milwaukee, however, will require additional revenue streams to enhance our economic model. Specifically, we intend to grow our endowment, investigate public finding revenue and social entrepreneurial partnerships, and capitalize on the ever-growing national and international interest our Milwaukee-born model is earning.

So here is where the transparency is needed. As we look forward, we recognize that it's going to take a few years for these new revenue streams to bear fruit. In the meantime, we still need to match our annual expenses to continue making an impact. Recognizing this fact, our board, leadership, and staff have all pledged a deeper commitment to roll up our sleeves and work our hardest, anticipating that the next few years will be critical for the Center.

In short, we have high aspirations for Milwaukee. Aspirations that are possible to realize. To do so, however, will require a few years of added support from everyone. Are you in?

We work from a “Three Musketeers” philosophy of one for all and all for one. When I say "all" I mean all of us -- board, staff, volunteers, members, schools, business supporters, donors, neighborhood groups and YOU. Everyone. As such, I hope you will consider pitching in. Here are three things you might consider:

Soon you will receive our fall fundraising request. Consider increasing your support this year. Your support makes a big difference.

Think about your place of work, your places of faith, the social groups you are involved with, your network. Can you think of three people to whom you could make an introduction on our behalf? Consider sharing our newsletter, website, emails or our newly released book, Urban Ecology: A Natural Way to Transform Kids, Parks, Cities and the World book (now available for sale at our Centers).

Inspire change by encouraging friends and family to donate to the Urban Ecology Center for your birthday, anniversary, special event and more. Under the “Donate” section of our website you’ll find a “Create your own fundraiser” link to make this easy.

Our mission came out of the east side community over two decades ago and we serve many more communities now. We have become a model that is showing Milwaukee-pride to people all over the world. We are asking for your additional help during this critical time in our growth to keep it going and growing into the future. Thank you for thinking with us and giving of your time, treasure and talents. We wouldn't be here without you. All for one and one for all!

Ken Leinbach

Ken Leinbach

Ken Leinbach is a nationally recognized science educator and leader in community-based environmental education. From a trailer in a high-crime city park, Ken has had fun facilitating the grassroots effort to create and grow the Urban Ecology Center which is the topic of his first book.

Striving to live with as little environmental impact as possible, Ken lives in the community in which he works and, not owning a car, commutes by bike, unicycle, roller blades, and occasionally even by kayak on the Milwaukee River.


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