Northwestern Mutual Foundation 

northwestern mutual foundation 
Across the street and across the country, our goal is to create real and sustainable social impact in the communities where our employees and financial representatives live and work. Our giving and volunteerism are focused on improving education and revitalizing neighborhoods in the Milwaukee area, curing childhood cancer and helping families fighting the disease find happiness.

Childhood Cancer 

Our Local Community 

Employees and Field 

Application Process 



Join the Fight

Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children younger than 15 in the U.S. Last year, Northwestern Mutual launched a national philanthropic program through its employees and financial representatives to accelerate the search for a cure to childhood cancer and to provide support to kids and families facing the daily struggles of this disease.

combatting childhood cancerWatch this video to see the domino effect of a cancer diagnosis on a family and how we are stepping in to support families during these difficult times.

Together, we can help kids fighting cancer and their families forget about fear and find happiness. And, we can help accelerate the search for a childhood cancer cure.

We have partnered with two national nonprofit organizations, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Starlight Children’s Foundation to raise awareness and funds to help support families fighting childhood cancer.

See if we're holding an event near you:

Help Kids Fighting Cancer Find Happiness
Accelerate the Search for a Cure

Join the Conversation

One of the biggest obstacles to curing childhood cancer is the lack of research funding. We encourage you to share these infographics with your Facebook friends to help build awareness and support for the cause. Then leave a comment and share your story.

cure childhood cancer 12,500 1 in 330

Our Progress

  • Donated more than $6.3 million
  • Helped fund 41,000+ hours of research with Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation
  • Supported more than 3,000 children and families battling cancer
  • Engaged 70 hospitals
  • Provided 614 nights of lodging, 5,830 gas cards and 114 flights to families needing treatment outside of their community

(As of September 30, 2014)

brents place video

Leading the Charge

Our volunteers actively support the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, Starlight Children’s Foundation and other allied organizations in the fight against childhood cancer.

See our volunteer stories at:

Brent's Place in Denver, CO   video icon
John Theissen Children's Foundation in Melville, NY   video icon
Team Connor in Dallas, TX   video icon

stolen basesStolen Bases, Happy Faces

Each time the Milwaukee Brewers steal a base while at Miller Park stadium, the Milwaukee Brewers Foundation and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation will donate $1,000 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin – to help kids fighting cancer and their families find happiness.

Learn more


A Greater Milwaukee

A city thrives when its residents are given the opportunity to succeed. Through a variety of grants, programs and volunteer opportunities, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation is working to improve the lives of children and families in our hometown of Milwaukee by connecting the right people with the best solutions.


northwestern mutual foundation strives to improve education in milwaukeeThe Northwestern Mutual Foundation strives to improve the quality of life for children and families, and one of the key components to this goal is education. That’s why we are directing financial giving and volunteerism to community initiatives that are committed to two key times in students’ lives that determine academic success, including:

  • Third Grade Reading     
    According to United Way of Greater Milwaukee, students who are not proficient in reading by third grade are four times more likely to leave school before graduating than proficient readers. That’s why we’re supporting programming that builds fundamental literacy skills with students from pre-school to third grade.

    Specifically, we’re interested in investing in replicable, collaborative education efforts. For example, we are investing in a program at Gwen T. Jackson and Clarke Street School where teachers are being provided with one-on-one coaching to help them more effectively support students in need of supplemental reading intervention..

  • Post secondary completion
    In an effort to encourage more Milwaukee-area students to pursue and succeed in higher education, Northwestern Mutual awards grants to support scholarship opportunities for first generation college students. In addition, the company matches each scholarship recipient with an employee volunteer mentor to help the students succeed both in school and in making the transition to a career. Some of our past recipients have even become employees of the company and several are now serving as mentors in the program.

Outside of these two specific focus areas, we are also participating in several educational collaborative efforts, including:

  1. Milwaukee Succeeds, a cradle to career initiative focused on improving educational outcomes for children in the city. Milwaukee Succeeds recently released its Milestone Report, which lays out the challenges we face and the goals we expect to achieve along the way.
  2. Carver Academy collaboration with Teach for America, Schools that Can Milwaukee, and City Year Milwaukee aimed at supporting students, teachers, and school leaders in their efforts to drive greater academic success for students.

These are just some ways we are building a better tomorrow through our investment in education.


Healthy, educated and compassionate people make a community thrive, which is why we’ve committed to more than $725,000 in grants to nonprofits in three specific Milwaukee neighborhoods – Amani, Metcalfe Park and Muskego Way. The program creates welcoming, safe and healthy neighborhoods through strong nonprofit partners, improving the quality of life for more than 70,000 people. Read recent media coverage about the company’s commitment to these three neighborhoods.

  • Auer Oasis
    One new project, resulting from the national Building Neighborhood Capacity Program, was a partnership with Hunger Task Force to bring food to the Amani neighborhood during the summer months. The area has a lack of grocery and convenience stores, so the Auer Oasis project provided lunch and dinner to area residents at the Auer Elementary School. In partnering with Milwaukee Public Schools and the Milwaukee County Parks system, this project highlighted the type of collective impact that can be created through collaboration.

  • United Community Center
    Northwestern Mutual has been a proud partner of the United Community Center (UCC), a comprehensive service agency serving the predominantly Latino families of Milwaukee’s Southside, including residents of Muskego Way. UCC has operated Bruce-Guadalupe Community School (BGCS), which offers a multitude of culturally responsive supportive services outside the regular school program to address student needs and promote high expectations. The Foundation has supported the UCC’s future expansion plans, which will take the school's capacity to approximately 1,300 by the 2020-2021 school year. Last year more than 75 Northwestern Mutual employees volunteered at the UCC in either one-time or on-going activities, including numerous employees who serve as mentors in the company’s Time to Read program.

milwaukee art museum's mam after darkMaking Milwaukee Great

Visitors to Milwaukee are greeted with not only Midwestern warmth, but with a vibrant arts scene and activities for the whole family. We’re committed to enhancing our community by ensuring it is a stable and an attractive place to live, work and play.

  • Prominent Destinations
    The Foundation has been the presenting sponsor of The Milwaukee Art Museum's MAM After Dark for the past five years. This extremely successful audience development program provides an after-hours look at the museum. Designed by young adults for young adults, MAM After family farmDark is attended by a broad audience and allows guests to mix and mingle with new and old friends alike, while enjoying some of the best art in the country.

    Northwestern Mutual Family Farm
    Providing fun for the whole family, the Northwestern Mutual Family Farm at the Milwaukee County Zoo allows children to be up close with some of their favorite animals. Recent grants have helped to renovate the farm’s main entrance, the raptor building and the Munchkin Dairy Farm.

  • Record Setting UPAF Campaign
    business committee for the arts hall of fame Northwestern Mutual is a long-time supporter of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) – a group that helps fund 32 member organizations throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. During this year’s campaign, our company raised $1.6 million, a record for the single-highest combined corporate donation. In 2013 the company was recognized with both the UPAF Epic Award and earned a place in the Business Committee for the Arts Hall of Fame of the Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America.

  • live unitedUnited Way of Greater Milwaukee
    We’ve been a valued partner of United Way for more than 100 years, and we’re proud to show our support for the 2014 campaign. Last year, Greg Oberland, President, served as a community co-chair and many of our employees serve United Way and its partner agencies in many capacities year-round.


Strengthening Communities Where We Live and Work

Northwestern Mutual employees spent over 26,000 hours volunteering in 2013 and collected over 17,500 items in food, hygiene items, backpacks and books for local nonprofits. In addition, our financial representatives and staff volunteer thousands of hours in their local communities across the country. Together, we’re committed to strengthening families and building vibrant communities.

Community Service Award

Volunteers are rallying their communities across the country in support of nonprofits that are shaping the world for the better. To recognize this, the Community Service Award identifies 16 financial professionals from our field offices that demonstrate outstanding volunteerism in their local areas. Three winners per region are awarded with a $15,000 grant for their nonprofit, and an additional recipient is named the most exceptional earning their organization $25,000.

Celebrating its 20th year, the program has donated more than $4 million to nonprofits around the country since its inception.

See the touching stories of the 2014 most exceptional Community Service Award winners.

Brad Vick, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Minnesota Chapter (Mendota Heights, Minn.) video icon
Rebecca McSwain, YoungLives of Manatee County (Tampa, Fla.) video icon
Sharon Zimmerman, Social Advocates for Youth (Santa Rosa, Calif.) video icon
John Carr, Junior Achievement of Northeastern Pennsylvania (Moosic, Penn.) video icon

days of caring winnersDays of Sharing

Every year our employees nominate favorite local charities to receive a donation. Our Northwestern Mutual Foundation chooses 25 at random and then notifies the nominating employees. This year we added Employees Choice awards, letting employees vote for charities to receive larger gifts. Recipients were: Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, $35,000; ABCD (After Breast Cancer Diagnosis), $30,000; Walker’s Point Youth & Family Center, $25,000; Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin, $20,000; and Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity, $15,000.

Watch how we surprised our 2013 Days of Sharing winners.

Giving Back

Contributions to the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) and United Way of Greater Milwaukee make a direct and immediate impact on the Greater Milwaukee community. Driven largely by employee volunteers and donations, Northwestern Mutual continues to be a leading corporate donor to both UPAF and United Way. More than $5.5 million was raised this fiscal year from employee, retiree and foundation contributions – a new record.

Other Ways We Strengthen Communities

Our Volunteer Support Program recognizes employees who volunteer 40+ hours a year through a $500 donation to a local nonprofit.

Matching Gifts supports quality educational institutions by matching dollar-for-dollar contributions made by our field force and employees. Since 1995, the foundation has matched $40 million in support of well over 30,000 accredited schools across the country.

Our Disaster Relief Program supports rescue, recovery and rebuilding efforts following a natural disaster through a $500,000 grant to the American Red Cross.


Application Process

We require all applications to be submitted online. Fiscal year 2015 began July 1, 2014 and continues through June 30, 2015.


For fiscal year 2015, we will be accepting funding requests via a two-stage application process. These grants are limited to programs and projects in Milwaukee, WI. There are no open national application opportunities for funding.

Likewise, we will only be accepting proposals for two focus areas this fiscal year: Neighborhoods and Third Grade Reading.  (Scroll down for more information on our funding priorities in these focus areas).

The first stage is to submit an online Letter of Inquiry (LOI), designed to give us a basic overview of the project for which you are seeking funding. The LOI should demonstrate how your organization will deliver maximum impact through sustainable change on third grade reading and our targeted neighborhood outcomes.

The link for the LOI will be available on November 15th and the deadline to submit your online Letter of Inquiry (LOI) is December 15, 2014.

Once submitted, the online LOI will be reviewed by a program officer. Select nonprofit partners will be asked to return to the online system at a later date to submit a more comprehensive grant application.

Grant determinations are typically announced three to four months after the full proposal has been received.

Event and Table Sponsorships

For fiscal year 2015, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation is funding events on an invitation-only basis. Organizations we intend to support this fiscal year have been sent the appropriate link. Questions about our event sponsorship process can be submitted through the Contact Us link (found in the upper right hand corner on your account page).

Access your account to do any of the following:

  • Return to an application you have saved but not submitted
  • Access record of your previous submissions
  • Access requirement forms
  • Contact us with any questions

Our Milwaukee Focus areas include:



  • Amani
  • Metcalfe Park
  • Muskego Way

See our Neighborhood Map for locations and parameters of these neighborhoods.

Making Milwaukee Great

  • Prominent Destinations (Invitation Only)
  • United Way of Greater Milwaukee
  • United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF)

Childhood Cancer Program (Invitation Only)

  • We partner with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Starlight Children’s Foundation.

What We Fund

To be eligible for funding, an organization is required:

  • To be a qualified 501(c)(3) organization with a valid IRS tax ID number.
  • To be a U.S.-based organization.
  • To be located in and/or serving clients in Milwaukee, WI, with a preference towards serving clients in our targeted neighborhoods of Amani, Metcalfe Park and Muskego Way.

What We Don't Fund

  • Organizations that are not tax-exempt under paragraph 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service code.
  • Individuals for any purpose.
  • Nonprofit organizations located outside of the U.S. or that primarily serve clients located outside of the U.S.
  • Grants that would represent more than 10% of a nonprofit organization’s annual operating budget.
  • Endowment, debt-reduction or debt-retirement campaigns.
  • Capital campaigns unless invited to apply by Foundation leadership based on alignment with strategic philanthropic interests and priorities.
  • Groups or organizations that will re-grant Foundation support to other organizations or individuals (except for those approved on an exception only basis).
  • Schools or community athletic events or teams, bands or choirs (including requests for equipment, uniforms, travel and any requests for in-kind donations to support special events).
  • Labor, religious or fraternal groups that do not provide services to the community at large.

Missed Deadlines

The Foundation’s deadline for fiscal year 2015 is December 15, 2014.  If the deadline is missed, an organization will have to wait until the next fiscal year to submit an application.
Questions? Please reference our FAQs.

Learn More