Northwestern Mutual

Inside View Shows Safe Neighborhoods

Learn how outreach by Northwestern Mutual is working to create welcoming, safe and healthy neighborhoods for more than 70,000 residents in three Milwaukee neighborhoods.

moody park 2

Sister Patricia Rogers works in a neighborhood that’s been called the area of least resistance, where median household income is less than $25,000 a year, homicide rates are the highest in the city and public school performance is among the lowest in the state.

“The view from outside the neighborhood is that it’s a dangerous place to live,” Rogers said of the Amani neighborhood on Milwaukee’s North Side. “The view from the outside is that people here don’t really want to do better.”

Rogers, the executive director of the Dominican Center for Women, acknowledges the challenges facing the area, but sees Amani through a different lens. “People here are invested in the neighborhood. They genuinely love where they live and they want to see it better,” Rogers said. 

Community Identification

The Northwestern Mutual Foundation has supported the nonprofit Dominican Center as it works with residents to solve problems affecting education, health, housing, safety and employment. The support is part of an outreach by Northwestern Mutual to create welcoming, safe and healthy neighborhoods for more than 70,000 residents in three Milwaukee neighborhoods, Amani, Metcalfe Park and Muskego Way. More than $3 million has been awarded to nonprofit partners throughout these neighborhoods.

But what’s impressed Rogers most about the Northwestern Mutual initiative is the work that’s gone on behind the scenes. “They came to sometimes mundane meetings so they could hear what issues were important to residents and their wishes for solutions,” Rogers said. “By listening to all of that they could align some of the monies for things to happen in the neighborhood and connect us with other organizations.”

Rogers points to a summer program sponsored by the Dominican Center, Northwestern Mutual and Hunger Task Force that provided food for 500 families. “That’s just one impact, and it’s a big one,” Rogers said.

“The greatest benefit of Northwestern Mutual’s involvement has been the relationships that have been built,” Rogers said. “I don’t know if the residents know what it means to have John Kordsmeier (Northwestern Mutual Foundation president) sit in on their meetings.”

The Dominican Center is a lead agency for the federal Building Neighborhood Capacity Program, a resident-led revitalization initiative. Northwestern Mutual stepped up with $50,000 of the $75,000 in matching funds the Dominican Center needed to secure the federal funding. “Northwestern Mutual understood right away that this wasn’t going to be something that happened overnight,” Rogers said.

But signs of change are evident. When a scheduled groundbreaking for revitalizing nearby Moody Park was called off, Amani residents decided to hold the event, with or without county officials. “They called the county executive and the parks division to say this isn’t acceptable,” Rogers said, noting that Kordsmeier, too, stepped in to help.

That show of unity among Amani residents isn’t the only shift Rogers has witnessed. “We are seeing more residents willing to come forward to be leaders in the community, reporting criminal activity, going to meetings, talking to each other,” Rogers said. “Some people have said this community has no identity, but that’s not true. It’s been lost, but there is one here.”

Making an Impact

Learn more about how we make an impact by giving back to the people and communities we serve.  

  • Leading by Example: Corporate Citizenship

    Brochure widget graphic
    Leading by Example: Corporate Citizenship

    Learn about Northwestern Mutual's commitment to building strong families and communities.