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Citizen Action of Milwaukee
CLC Position Paper print | PDF

Teresa Thomas-Boyd CAM Organizer speaks at rally

Teresa Thomas-Boyd

CAM Leadership Training Summary

Citizen Action of Milwaukee managed to motivate and agitate people to join CAM on a beautiful Saturday morning, on a Holiday weekend, for a leadership training. We identified 9 new leaders out of a group of 17 people. The training included how to have successful one on one meeting and showed them the importance of relationship building.  We trained them on how to organize people and get more people involved, and how to turn out people for events.  At the end of the training we had people fill out evaluations.  100% of the evaluations we got back said that the overall rate of the training was “Excellent”.   Other comments people wrote were Please have this if you can every 3 to 6 months, its worth more than I thought”.   We also asked them on the evaluation, what did you get out of this training? One person said “I learned how powerful one can be”.  Another person said; “I educated my self on how to become a greater leader”. Our training was from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. but it didn’t end till 12:45.   One of the latter questions on the evaluation asked, One thing that I would like to see different? More than one person replied; More time”.  So that just tells me that people really enjoyed our training.

State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster at a CAM meeting

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In 2001, Citizen Action launched a new citywide, resident power base in Milwaukee to increase social capital, civic participation and power for low-income residents.  Using a school-based organizing model to provide a voice for city residents to win social change, Citizen Action is building a diverse base of unorganized leaders in targeted neighborhoods.  We are currently organizing around efforts to strengthen after-school care.   Community Learning Centers (CLCs) are an after-school care program that provides important educational benefits as well as organized activities for children and working families.  But the funding for them will run out soon.  Citizen Action of Milwaukee will use issues like CLC funding to build an urban power base by engaging and training parents and residents to identify their interests, research issues, build relationships, work in collaboration, initiate action, and to wield their power in public settings.  Contact Teresa Thomas-Boyd  

"The Lights Will Stay On" Ceremony Celebrates New Funding for 18 Milwaukee Community Learning Centers

State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster announced at a Citizen Action of Milwaukee event on August 20, 2002 that the WI Department of Public Instruction’s Community Learning Center Review Committee has recommended $100,000 in funding for 18 Community Learning Centers in Milwaukee to keep their doors open this next school year.  Parents representing each of the 18 schools walked down the aisle of the main auditorium with a light that Superintendent Burmaster symbolically switched on. 

The new grant to be formally announced September 1st, takes over from expired federal funding commitments that would’ve forced these 18 after-school safe havens and resource centers for students and families to shut down, affecting more than 12,000 children in Milwaukee. 

“I’m pleased and excited to announce that the “Lights Will Stay On” at the 18 existing Community Learning Centers,” Burmaster said.  “These programs have continued to raise student academic levels and close the achievement gap throughout the public schools in our state.  I’ve personally witnessed the enormous impact these after-school programs are having in the lives of Milwaukee students and their families, and those results show up in 3rd grade reading scores, improved attendance, and a host of other areas.  I want to congratulate the parent and clergy leadership of Citizen Action of Milwaukee whose advocacy and leadership helped make this possible,” Burmaster said.

Over the past year, Citizen Action of Milwaukee organized parents and staff in each of the schools, along with churches and community groups, to coordinate the advocacy work to secure additional funding to sustain the Community Learning Centers. 

Building Citizen Power for Change:  Citizen Action of Milwaukee and the Community Learning Center Sustaining Funds Campaign

Citizen Action of Milwaukee has been building a political powerbase of residents in Milwaukee, using a leadership-driven, school-based organizing approach.  Our first campaign has centered on the need for continued funding for Community Learning Centers (CLCs).   The CLCs are currently funded by a federal grants program, which is due to expire this summer.  A state supplement of $8.6 million over two years is needed is to sustain Wisconsin’s CLCs.

Community Learning Centers meet the needs and interests of the diverse population of Wisconsin’s rural, urban, youth and adult residents.  CLCs are a permanent and integral part of the school and community cultures, and provide a safe place for children during the crucial after school hours and year-round learning centers for the entire community.

Since January, parents from 20 schools have been meeting to plan a public forum with their state legislators to advocate for statewide funding for CLCs.   On April 9, 278 parents, educators, coalition partners, and CLC coordinators gathered to show their support for, and to challenge their legislators to, fund Wisconsin’s CLCs.  Four legislators, Senators Burke and George, and Representatives Riley and Young, attended the forum.  Six parent leaders conducted the meeting and many parents spoke on behalf of their local CLC.  During the forum, Senator Burke, Co-chair of the legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee, pledged his support for the statewide funding proposal presented to him. 

Parent leaders have been continuing the effort for sustained funding, and held a rally in front of the state office building in Milwaukee on May 9.   Four buses of parents, children, educators, coalition partners, and CLC coordinators from 12 schools showed their collective support by rallying and testifying on the positive results their children gained by attending CLC afterschool programs.

  • Children attending Community Learning Center programs derive very positive advantages for their education:

  • Students in quality afterschool programs have better academic performance and school attendance and greater expectations for the future

  • Students in afterschool programs exhibit fewer behavioral problems, better ability to handle conflicts and have improved self-confidence

  • Students in afterschool programs show better achievement in math, reading and additional subjects.


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