MILWAUKEE (BUSINESS WIRE), September 29, 2011 - The Northwestern Mutual Foundation – the largest corporate giver in the state of Wisconsin – is announcing $532,000 in arts education grants to benefit 17 best-in-class nonprofit organizations. The grants build upon the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to “Secure Future Generations” and reduce achievement gaps by providing local children with hands-on experiences with the arts.

“Our goal is to help ensure kids in Milwaukee have access to the arts. Research shows that students who participate extensively in arts programs score higher on standardized tests, are more well-rounded and exude more confidence than those not exposed to the arts,” said Deanna Tillisch, Northwestern Mutual Foundation vice president. “By investing in arts education, communities become stronger, more culturally diverse and vibrant for the long term.”

One recipient of a Northwestern Mutual Foundation grant is the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO), which provides training and enrichment in orchestral and ensemble musicianship to children and teens in Southeastern Wisconsin. Funds will help the nonprofit continue to run music education programs such as the Community Partnership Program. The MYSO’s Community Partnership Program imparts financial aid and support services to low-income families to enroll their children in music programs.

“By giving children living in underserved areas the tools and attention to succeed, we see how the gift of music can change lives,” said Fran Richman, executive director, MYSO.

The Milwaukee nonprofit has been awarded the Governor’s Award in Support of the Arts, largely in recognition of their extensive and successful diversity initiatives, as well as UPAF’s Northwestern Mutual Management Excellence Award for having attained the highest management score among UPAF’s numerous groups.

Other organizations receiving a Northwestern Mutual Foundation arts education grant include:

Organization     Program
Arts @ Large     Gallery @ Large
Art 180     Turning Lives and Communities Around
Boston Ballet     Citydance
Creative Alliance Milwaukee, Inc.     Awareness Advocacy Campaign
Danceworks     Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap
Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin     The Art & Archeology of Me
Express Yourself Milwaukee     Arts in Collaboration
First Stage     First Stage Community Partnership
Milwaukee Ballet     Relevé
Milwaukee Children’s Choir     Harmony Program
Milwaukee Repertory Theater     Reading Residencies
Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra     Community Partnership Programs
Orange County Performing Arts Center     Artsconnect
Pius XI High School     Pius XI Performing Arts Academy
Skylight Opera Theatre     Enlighten
String Academy of Wisconsin     Urban Students in Arts Scholarships
VSA Wisconsin     Educational Artist Residencies

About the Northwestern Mutual Foundation

The mission of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation is to build strong, vibrant communities that serve as a legacy to future generations. The Foundation’s giving is designed to create an impact on the communities where the company’s employees and financial representatives live and work. In fiscal year 2011, the Foundation contributed more than $15 million to nonprofit organizations across the country.

About Northwestern Mutual

The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company – Milwaukee, WI (Northwestern Mutual) – “World’s Most Admired” life insurance company in 2011 according to FORTUNE® magazine, has helped clients achieve financial security for more than 150 years. As a mutual company with $1.2 trillion of life insurance protection in force, Northwestern Mutual has no shareholders. The company focuses solely and directly on its clients and seeks to deliver consistent and dependable value to them over time. Northwestern Mutual and its subsidiaries offer a holistic approach to financial security solutions including: life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance, annuities, investment products, and advisory products and services. Subsidiaries include Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member FINRA and SIPC; the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company, limited purpose federal savings bank; and Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company; and Russell Investments.