The UEDA Story

By: UEDA Administrator  |  News & Events

Through the years, UEDA has transformed to fit the needs of our growing community and member base. We have grown into our role as a third-party intermediary, and have evolved with a focus on our members and our three c’s: collaboration, capacity building and connections.

UEDA’s membership network has over 300 individuals from more than 95 nonprofits, businesses and government agencies that represent the arts, disability, housing, small business, philanthropic, financial, corporate, local food, entertainment, and governmental sectors. Together, we work to invest in and support initiatives that strengthen Wisconsin communities and urban neighborhoods.

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We are pleased to share a new resource, www.NonprofitLift.org, for nonprofits in the Greater Milwaukee Region is now available!

Logo for Nonprofit Lift

This resource went live on May 3rd and is the product of collaborative work UEDA has been engaged with other intermediaries that work to support the capacity of nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit Lift’s website provides:

  • An easily searchable directory of 50+ consultants to nonprofits in the Greater Milwaukee Region (and beyond, in most cases)
  • Sources for nonprofit training and professional development
  • Resource lists for starting and for running a nonprofit
  • Resources for nonprofit sector data, research, and news

Many of these resources are also available to nonprofits throughout the state. Special thanks to the Nonprofit Management Fund for their financial and technical support, which helped create the platform for the website and consultant directory.

More About Nonprofit Lift

This collaboration of capacity-building intermediary and philanthropic organizations in Wisconsin formed last year in response to the challenges facing the nonprofit community in the Greater Milwaukee Region. In 2021 we held several town hall discussions with nonprofit and philanthropic leaders, after reviewing the results of the Understanding and Supporting Milwaukee Nonprofits study conducted by Project Pivot and the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2019.

The study and town hall discussions helped identify areas of need and nonprofit resource limitations in the Greater Milwaukee Region, leading to the development of Nonprofit Lift and the resources you can now find on their new website. We are continuing to work in partnership on additional steps to make capacity-building services and resources more accessible to nonprofits in the Greater Milwaukee Region.

Nonprofit Lift is a collaboration of the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management at UW-Milwaukee, Jobs That Help, Project Pivot, the Nonprofit Academy of Wisconsin, Nonprofit Management Fund, Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin, and Create Wisconsin (formerly Arts Wisconsin).

Held February 28 – March 4, 2022, our 14th annual Carnival Milwaukee fundraiser was a week-long virtual celebration that focused on giving back to the local businesses and partners that have supported UEDA and this event over the years. During the 5 Days of Carnival Milwaukee celebration we:

  • Partnered with 4 restaurants for Dining Deals (Amilinda, Antigua Latin Inspired Kitchen, Orenda Cafe, Sam’s Place Jazz Cafe).
  • Had 100+ attendees at our virtual “Fat Tuesday Fun Day” lunchtime event.
  • Distributed 90+ goodie bags featuring local products from Kilwin’s, Swaye Tea and our sponsors.
  • Provided 23+ hours of Carnival-themed content via email and social media.

Additionally, we recognized ArtWorks for Milwaukee as our fifth Carnival Milwaukee Bridge Builder, an award that “recognizes a community member or partner for their efforts to honor diversity and connect people and places through the expression of culture in food, art, music and space.”

A longtime member of the UEDA Community, ArtWorks for Milwaukee’s commitment to connecting youth to experiences that foster creativity and learning through people and place, while lifting up Milwaukee’s diverse neighborhoods, exemplifies the spirit of this award. They join previous Bridge Builder Awardees Diverse Dining, VIA CDC, Milwaukee Public Library, and 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, who are all shaping our community in creative ways!

Along with our Sponsors, nearly 60 individuals made contributions to UEDA, helping to support program areas that focus on stable rental housing, sustainable homeownership, financial inclusion, and small business support. also, through our Dining Deals, individual donations, and event sponsorships, we were able to invest more than $3,600 into 17+ local, small businesses that have supported this event in the past!

Throughout the 14 year history of Carnival Milwaukee, UEDA has had the privilege to work with many local food enterprises who have been an integral part of what makes this annual fundraiser so special. We hope you will continue to support them as they have supported UEDA!  View UEDA’s Carnival Milwaukee Food Tasting Feature Here



UEDA 2022 Carnival Milwaukee Sponsor images

At the end of 2021 we reflected on the inspiring work we were a part of in the UEDA Community, took the opportunity to thank our members and partners, and shared our optimism for what to expect in 2022.  View our New Year video message here.

We also invite you to view our 2021 UEDA Impact Report and our UEDA 2021 Year in Review Slideshow, which summarizes last year’s programs, activities, and events. We helped increase collaboration, capacity, and connections in the community and economic development sector through:

  • Growth of our membership network by 8% and more people and groups participating in our programs and events.
  • A 42% year-over-year increase in outreach and educational webinars/events across all programs, reaching 1,100 people and connecting them to information and resources related to critical housing, community and economic development issues.

After experiencing program and staff growth for 2+ years, two of our staff transitioned to pursue new opportunities with State partners. We are excited to watch Johanna Jimenez continue shepherding the launch of Take Root Wisconsin and Jessica Wetzel supporting the growth and impact of the State of Wisconsin’s College Savings Program. We truly appreciate all they’ve done to support UEDA!

In November we welcomed Kat Klawes as our Communications & Events Coordinator and hope to add our next Take Root Milwaukee Program Director by the end of February 2022.

Be sure to mark your calendars and join us for Carnival Milwaukee Week, UEDA’s annual fundraiser, which will be held February 28-March 4, 2022

While 2021 continued to bring its challenges, it also offered up many moments of inspiration.

We THANK YOU all for your interest, engagement, and support of UEDA!

The Staff and Board of Directors at UEDA

Milwaukee’s homeownership racial disparity rate is one of the largest gaps in the country and a reflection of decades of systemic, institutionalized racist policies and practices most commonly referred to as “redlining.” In 1975 Congress enacted the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), which required certain financial institutions to provide mortgage data to the public on an annual basis. This data helps show whether lenders are serving the housing needs of their communities, gives public officials information that helps to develop policies, and sheds light on lending patterns that could be discriminatory.

Since 2012, UEDA’s Take Root Milwaukee (TRM) program has performed an annual analysis of HMDA data to assess trends in the local mortgage lending market, who the top lenders are, the types of loans made, where loans are being made, to whom loans are made, and how this changes from year to year. 

In 2020 the TRM Education & Advocacy workgroup developed an educational series based on what we’ve learned, looking at additional tools in the HMDA data set to inform our work in sustainable homeownership, and encourage our members and partners to work to advance racial equity when it comes to accessing credit and the opportunity of homeownership. 

Thank you to our workgroup co-chairs, Bethany Sanchez and Lamont Davis, and other TRM members Bill Kopka, Maria Prioletta, and Irma Yepez Klassen for their support to plan the series. Stay tuned as this series will continue into 2022!

you will find a brief recap and links to resources for each session, ancheck out this tip sheet for suggestions on increasing loans to people of color and in low and moderate income neighborhoods which was shared during our 2021 sessions.

What We Can Learn From Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data | 12/3/20
The first session explored 2019 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data for Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee, discussed how this information can be used to increase access to credit for non-white and low- to moderate-income borrowers, and reviewed lenders who appear to meeting the needs of their community with their loans. View the session recording here and presentation slides here.

HMDA Lending Disparity Profiles | 10/8/21
Our next presentation focused specifically on borrowers and reviewed loan applications, originations, and denials by race. We also discussed strategies to ensure all lenders, not just CRA staff, are doing everything possible to get potential borrowers to the table and close on a home loan. View the session recording here and presentation slides here

2020 HMDA Analysis & Credit Access | 12/3/21
The third session in this series focused on the release of 2020 HMDA data for the City of Milwaukee. We looked at top lenders, types of loans made, where and to whom loans were made, and changes from 2019 to 2020. We broadened our discussion to how racial disparities continue to persist in credit indicators that impact mortgage lending, and talked about strategies to increase access to credit for non-white and low- to moderate-income borrowers. View the session recording here and presentation slides here.

This recent blog from the Urban Institute Housing & Housing Finance provided important context to this year’s HMDA analysis: Closing the Homeownership Gap Will Require Rooting Systemic Racism Out of Mortgage Underwriting (October 2021).

Since 2018, UEDA has hosted the Emerging Topics in Economic Development Series to provide frequent and intentional opportunities for our members and partners to connect, learn new ideas, and feature best practices in the sector.  

Our 2021 series featured recent housing development and planning efforts in Milwaukee, highlighting different yet collective approaches to affordable housing work. Below you will find a brief recap and links to resources for each session.

We’d like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to the following sponsors for their support of this educational series.


UEDA 2021 Emerging Topics Series Sponsors are Chase, US Bank, We Energies, Associated Bank and PNC Bank


Session 1: Revitalization Through Preservation | July 13
Husch Blackwell and the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance joined us for an informative session on how to approach different types of historic preservation projects, the benefits of using historic tax credits, and also received an in-depth look at the Milwaukee Soldiers Home restoration project. View the session recording here. And more recently, the Soldier’s Home project was recognized in December 2021 with an award for Excellence in Historic Preservation by HUD and highlighted in a recent story on WUWM.

Session 2: City of Milwaukee HUD Consolidated Plan Navigators | September 15
This session took a deep dive into the City of Milwaukee’s HUD-approved 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan, sharing what types of data are included, how to find and use that data, and how community-based organizations and private sector partners can align their work to complement the goals and outcomes outlined in the plan. The UEDA team created 10 topic “navigators” designed to help people easily access information in the plan. View the session recording here and find the full plan and Navigator tools at www.ConPlanMKE.org

Session 3: Milwaukee’s Collective Affordable Housing Strategic Plan | October 22
Our last session featured Milwaukee’s Collective Affordable Housing Strategic Plan (released in September 2021), and was held in partnership with the Community Development Alliance (CDA) and City of Milwaukee. It was an active, virtual session with attendees providing feedback on how to best structure implementation of the three top approaches that have been identified as priorities for 2022. View the session recording here and presentation slides here.

In August of 2021, Take Root Milwaukee (TRM) celebrated 10+ years of helping Milwaukee citizens purchase, repair and maintain their homes. The celebration, which was postponed from 2020, brought together participants from over 50 organizations to reflect on the progress of the program and envision what the future of homeownership in Milwaukee could look like.

Take Root Milwaukee was launched in 2010 as a partnership with the City of Milwaukee and Freddie Mac. It is a collaborative effort, from a diverse group of organizations, to preserve and promote sustainable diverse neighborhoods by encouraging and maintaining homeownership.

“The birth of Take Root Milwaukee came out of the foreclosure crisis,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “It allowed realtors, counselors, neighbors and community groups to work with the city to stabilize housing in Milwaukee.”

The celebration welcomed Joaquin Altoro, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), who provided guests with inspiring opening remarks, and Mayor Tom Barrett, who has been a strong advocate and supporter of the network since its launch in 2010.

Krisit Luzar, UEDA Executive Director, and Johanna Jimenez, Take Root Milwaukee Program Manager, shared insight into how this network was formed and how it has continued to grow and evolve over the years to meet the needs of the community. It is currently a program of UEDA.

Additionally, members of the TRM Resource & Oversight Committee recognized both Kristi Luzar and Jessica Wetzel of UEDA with a Certificate of Recognition for their commitment to Take Root Milwaukee and the success it has brought to the Milwaukee-area residents it serves.

Over the past decade, Take Root Milwaukee has brought together 54+ organizational members, representing homeownership counseling agencies, financial institutions, realtors, local government, neighborhood organizations and other community partners.  Together, they have helped 7,600+ individuals and families become homeowners, and nearly 7,000 individuals and families complete critical repairs in their homes.

To learn more about Take Root Milwaukee, check out our 10 Year Impact Report and watch our Anniversary Celebration video below.

On September 16, 2021 Bank On Greater Milwaukee (BOGM) celebrated their two-year anniversary with a virtual awards ceremony that recognized six local entities for their efforts to improve the overall financial health of the Milwaukee community.

As a program of the Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin (UEDA), Bank On Greater Milwaukee serves as a collaboration between financial institutions, community-based organizations and local governments to provide residents safe, affordable, and certified banking accounts.

“A basic transaction account is an important first step to participating in the financial mainstream”, said Constance Alberts, Bank On Greater Milwaukee Program Manager. “We are extremely fortunate to engage a coalition of community organizations, banks, credit unions, and governmental entities who are dedicated to ensuring more households belong to the financial mainstream by developing low-barrier accounts and providing supportive financial education services.”

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