Milwaukee Brighter Futures Initiative

This video features Deputy Director, Kari Lerch, discussing the Milwaukee Brighter Futures Initiative.

The Milwaukee Brighter Futures Initiative seeks strategies to prevent and reduce child abuse and neglect, youth violence and delinquent behavior, youth alcohol and other drug use and abuse, and non-marital pregnancy.

Milwaukee Brighter Futures is a network of people from Milwaukee organizations and neighborhoods who are committed to prevention and youth/family development strategies in Milwaukee.

Established in 1999, the network currently involves over 25 organizations in regular monthly meetings, work groups, and training initiatives, all centered on sharing best practices in youth, family, and neighborhood development.

Community Advocates, as state-funded Milwaukee Brighter Futures Lead Agency, brings together numerous networks and task forces to work collaboratively on building a strong community prevention system focusing on the issues of child abuse and neglect, teen pregnancy, youth violence, youth AODA issues, parenting and youth self-sufficiency.

We provide a community forum to identify best practices for youth-engagement, risky sexual behavior prevention, substance abuse prevention, child abuse and neglect prevention strategies, parenting support and family strengthening.

The Five Benchmarks

The Brighter Futures Initiative, as outlined in the Wisconsin State Statutes, sets five benchmarks for funded programs. The Initiative supports evidence-based, positive youth development and prevention strategies focusing on the following legislative outcomes:

  1. Prevent and reduce the incidence of youth violence and other delinquent behavior;

  2. Prevent and reduce the incidence of youth alcohol and other drug use and abuse;

  3. Prevent and reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect;

  4. Prevent and reduce the incidence of non-marital pregnancy and increase the use of abstinence to prevent non-marital pregnancy; and

  5. Increase adolescent self-sufficiency by encouraging high school graduation, vocational preparedness, improved social and other interpersonal skills and responsible decision-making.

Milwaukee Brighter Futures is one of ten Wisconsin counties and reservations funded through this program. The state funding flows through the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families' Office of Youth Services.

The Re-Granting Model

Community Advocates’ strategy to use Brighter Futures state funds to greatest effect, while addressing each of the five “benchmark” legislative outcomes, is to re-grant funds to community-based organizations. We issue a Request for Proposals to the community, have an independent review panel score the applications, and we generally award funds to between 8 and 15 agencies. We provide organizations with extensive technical assistance and capacity-building support, and train them in use of an integrated evaluation database system. A Program Monitor conducts regular site visits. By tracking each organization’s evaluation data at the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, we ensure accountability and can help organizations succeed when areas of difficulty are identified early. Re-granting allows us to maintain a broad reach across the community that is still highly monitored for compliance and effectiveness in helping young people reach success.

Read about the latest Brighter Futures news in our blog posts here.

Milwaukee Brighter Futures Sub-Grantee Organizations

We are currently funding 9 organizations and 10 programs in Milwaukee with the state contract. Each legislative benchmark is addressed by at least one agency. Please click here to learn more about our sub-grantees and how their programs are helping young people in Milwaukee.

Brighter Futures' Associated Projects and Programs

In addition to our re-granting to community-based agencies, we respond to community needs through the following programs associated with Brighter Futures: Minority Male Achievement Program, Coming Together Milwaukee, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Network (TPPN), and the Milwaukee Child Abuse Prevention Services Coalition (MCAPS).

On The Blog

Spotlight On: Youth Mental Health First Aid

Posted November 3, 2017

We routinely learn how to use first aid techniques in case of a medical emergency. So why not learn how ...

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Read all Milwaukee Brighter Futures Initiative Blog Posts

Project Publications

Milwaukee Brighter Futures 2013 Year-End Report

The 2013 Year-End Report provides the most recent data for the Brighter Futures Initiative programming. ...

Milwaukee Brighter Futures 2011 Year-End Report

This report summarizes the activities of 27 programs that were funded through the Milwaukee Brighter ...

Milwaukee Brighter Futures 2010 Year-End Report

In 2010, Milwaukee Brighter Futures opened the door to opportunity for 12,434 persons. Children, teens ...

Future Event




Motivational Interviewing Training


Community Advocates 2nd Floor Conference Room, 728 N. James Lovell Street, Milwaukee

Learn Motivational Interviewing an interactive two-day training with Shawn Smith, Co-founder of the Alma Institute and a member of ...

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