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Who We Are

About Us

Community Advocates established the Public Policy Institute in 2008 to work toward preventing and reducing poverty while improving the quality of life for individuals and families in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin. Our varied programs and projects are united in their view that poverty is Milwaukee’s biggest problem. 

The Public Policy Institute targets poverty in a number of ways – we try to reduce it through nonpartisan changes to relevant public policies and laws; we try to prevent its effects through public health efforts; and we work to increase opportunity and wellness for low-income people by fostering factors related to success, resilience and well-being. 

We pursue our goals through the following strategies and approaches:

Analyzing and Advocating for Policy Changes

Public policies can alter what is possible for individuals and families. Policy change happens in stages, and can require advocacy at all levels of government. First, we ask questions, analyze, and develop nonpartisan, evidence-based policy alternatives. Secondly, we advocate for and assist with implementing the new policies. What sometimes starts as lists of numbers and laws becomes a plan to engage legislators from both sides of the aisle, raise awareness, and foster opportunity for families. Click here to learn more.

Coordinating Coalitions and Convening Citizens

It’s important to get people talking. We bring partners and community leaders together to more powerfully impact issues related to poverty and public health. Through our coalition work, we manage collaborations, ensure efforts aren't duplicated, and keep the work moving forward. Through our convening work, we help local and state leaders and citizens address pressing issues like gun violence, health coverage, and poverty.

One of the Public Policy Institute’s strengths is the ability to get the right people at the table. Our coalitions and programs with a focus on convening include: Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance, Healthy Workers, Healthy WisconsinMilwaukee Brighter Futures Initiative, the 53206 Drug-Free Communities Project, the Milwaukee Child Abuse Prevention Services Coalition, the Milwaukee Reentry Council, the Milwaukee Transitional Jobs Collaborative, the Southeast Wisconsin Region of the Alliance for Wisconsin Youth, and Conversations with Policy Leaders.

Helping Community-Based Agencies Impact Poverty Through Prevention Work & Promoting Achievement

Local organizations can do more to prevent and reduce the harm of poverty with evidence-based programming and the right support. The Public Policy Institute receives funding to coordinate processes of strategically distributing grant awards to local programs related to the funding source’s goal. When we grant funds to community-based agencies to impact specific needs, the award is accompanied by training and technical assistance to boost the agencies’ effectiveness and organizational capacity. In addition, customized program evaluation support and regular monitoring site visits are included. 

Training the Next Generation of Prevention Advocates

To grow our region's human services professionals' capacity, we offer a variety of training opportunities throughout the community. Our trainings include Mental Health First Aid for adults and youth; Question Persuade Refer Gatekeeper Training to prevent suicide; Drug Impairment Training for Education Professionals; and Substance Abuse Prevention Skills Training. We provide trainings in our Brown Deer Training Center as well as in community settings. Learn more about our training opportunities here.

Internships & Fellowships

Please click here to learn more about internship opportunities in the Public Policy Institute.