Urban Leagoe of Greater Madison Capital Campaign
Touching everyone

By Jonathan Gramling

      During the course of its 41 year history, the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) has provided youth and adult
education and employment and training services to thousands of people, particularly in the African American community.
Now as it is embarking on a new era in its history with the building of its Center for Economic Development and Workforce
Development on S. Park Street in the parking lot of the Villager Mall, the Urban League is counting on the community to
give back to the Urban League so that it can prepare to adequately meet the needs of future generations.
“For most folks in the African American community, someone in their family, either personally or through family, has been
touched by the Urban League and its services,” said Annette Miller, ULGM’s board chair, during an interview with The
Capital City Hues. “I think those individuals need to reflect on what their lives would be like if the Urban League were not
here. How would their cousin, brother, sister, mother or father have been helped out? It’s when you have those types of
thoughts is when you need to pull out the checkbook and write that check for whatever amount, no matter how modest or
how generous.”
      The Urban League is in its last stage of raising funds for the $2.7 million of their share of the building project and $1.3
million in operating funds to help them reach the next level of their service to the community. In order to close out the
capital campaign, the Urban League needs to raise $650,000 by October 1 in order to provide the match for a $370,000
Kresge Foundation grant.
      “The campaign is on,” Miller emphasized. “It’s an opportunity for the community to really step forward and demonstrate
their commitment to the Urban League. It’s important that you make that gift because the Urban League wants to meet
those expectations that the community and our other community partners have of the Urban League. And the reality of it is
we can not do it without financial support.”
      With the current economic recession, the Urban League’s services are in more demand than ever. And with the
changes that the economy is currently undergoing to a “green,” high tech economy, expanding the employment and
ULGM Board Chair Annette Miller
addresses a groundbreaking
gathering in March.
training capabilities of the Urban League is more important than ever.
     Ultimately, the Urban League is committed to raising the economic status of the African American community and those who are economically challenged.
“Our goal is to really create the road to economic success for every individual, whether they are a child or an adult,” Miller emphasized. “We need the financial
stability and support of the community in order to make that happen.”
     While most other capital campaigns in recent memory in the Madison area have been anchored by sizable naming gifts, to date the biggest source of funds
has been the city of Madison with its $1 million in grants. The Evjue Foundation, CUNA Mutual and others have also made sizable contributions. But as it stands
now, it is the community that can be the second largest provider of funds to make the center possible.
     In Miller’s view, a grassroots campaign can be done here to make this dream a reality. “Just like Obama was able to win the presidency with average gifts of
around $25, the Urban League could really do the same thing,” Miller emphasized. “We’re not asking people for six-figure gifts. We’re asking people for a stretch
gift, whatever that may be: $25, $50, $100 and of course we would welcome a stretch gift of $5,000, $10,000 or more from the community. But the reality is we
want this community to say ‘We want the Urban League. We believe in the Urban League. And we believe in the Urban League so much that we are willing to
put our own money on the table to do it.’ I know our family has personally done it. We gave a significant stretch gift for a family of five. I’m just looking for others
to do what we’re doing and what the board is doing.”
      The community campaign has been divided into four initiatives: a lawyers appeal, in-kind construction and furnishings contributions, a Founders Campaign
and a Guild Campaign. The Founders and Guild Campaigns are at the heart of the initiative. Members of the Urban League board contributed $125,000
collectively. The Founders Campaign is hoping to match that amount. It will be seeking contributions from former board members, families and friends. The
Guild Campaign will be seeking to match the $50,000 contribution from Marshall Osborne.
      “This is a grassroots process,” Miller emphasized. “If people want to do a bake sale, if kids want to sell candy, if they want to do fun run/walks, if people want
to have house parties, if they just want to do a letter-writing campaign to the five closest people whom they know; all of those efforts are going to be what makes
the difference in the Urban League meeting its goal. We need each and every person to see that they have the capacity to be a part of helping the Urban
League meet its fundraising goal. Whether you’re five or 100 years old, everyone has somebody that they have influence with, a child to a parent, a parent to a
sibling or other family members, a business to a community relationship, community to business, peer to peer, all of those networks are what need to come into
play to help the Urban League meet its goal of $650,000. I honestly believe we can do it. I just don’t think that people in the community have been asked to step
forward and demonstrate the power they have in them to give. I don’t think anyone has asked the community. As the board chair, I want to ask the community to
think about what they could personally do to help the Urban League fulfill its potential.”
      For Miller, the capital campaign is about community involvement and everyone can make an important contribution. “The easiest thing that people can do
is write a check to the Urban League of Greater Madison, note that it is for the capital campaign and mail it to Urban League of Greater Madison, 151 E.
Gorham Street, Madison, WI 53703,” Miller said. “Another thing they can do is be active in the campaign. There is nothing wrong with having your own
fundraiser and sending the proceeds to the Urban League.
Like an old-fashioned barn raising, the community must be involved to place the new center on a solid foundation.

For more information or to get involved, call Ed Lee at 251-8550 or visit the Urban League website at