Common Ground started in 2008, and St Paul’s joined that year thanks to Jim Gramentine’s leadership. Our parish has been a strong supporter of this organization’s work in Milwaukee and the communities surrounding us. Last year was no different.
We fund our organization three ways–by member dues, which we pay from our Outreach budget, a Friends of Common Ground campaign, and loans or grants. This year, we have eleven parishioners who made very generous donations to the organization. It is much appreciated because it makes possible all we do.
This year, we started Forward Scholars LLC, a tutoring program in MPS schools. We heard over and over from our members that their children/grandchildren were struggling with reading literacy post-pandemic. We have teachers in our membership and soon it became apparent that one-on-one tutoring would be an approach we could take. We formed Forward Scholars, hired a director, elected the Board, and got MPS to dedicate $400,000 from the monies they receive from the pandemic CARES Act. We asked for and got over 120 volunteer tutors and started this past fall. Each person I have talked to who tutors has been so positive about their experience. Feel free to ask Becky Hensley about her experience with her student. Kudos to her for stepping up to volunteer.
For the fall election, CG was asked to help turn out the vote. We have done big campaigns in the past around voter turnout–never partisan but yes, political. A common theme we heard from our city members was that if they could find their polling place, usually a school, they did not know which door to use. We had worked before with The Milwaukee Election Commission. We talked to Claire Woodall-Vogg who said she would print directional signs for all 170 polling places if CG could get volunteers to put them in. Well, we asked for 30 volunteers, got 50, and so the Monday before the November election found Chris Krueger and Pat Ruttum placing signs in 4 southside schools, directing voters where to enter on the next day.
We continue to meet in Assemblies twice a year and St Paul’s can turn out about ten to fifteen folks. Sometimes just showing up is what we ask because it shows our power!
Going into 2023, Common Ground is strong, financially stable, and ready to continue the work. I thank the Vestry and the people of St Paul’s for their loyal support of this great organization.
Core Team Leader