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Extreme Gerrymanderers

February 22, 2022

Gerrymandering is the intentional practice of manipulating the boundaries of congressional districts to provide an unfair advantage for a specific party or group. The practice has increasingly created barriers to representative democracy and allows politicians to select their voters, rather than allowing voters to pick their politicians.New maps that create the boundaries between congressional districts are drawn every 10 years, following each decennial census. In the wake of the 2020 Census, state legislators crafted a number of hyperpartisan and discriminatory gerrymanders. This report highlights a dozen of the worst.

Building the Relationships for Collaborative Governance: Case Studies from Across America

November 17, 2021

In recent years, a more collaborative form of democratic engagement has emerged, primarily at the local and state level, as well as internationally. Collaborative governance, or co-governance, refers to a broad range of models of civic engagement that allow people outside and inside government to work together in designing policy. This new form of engagement seeks to break down the boundaries between advocates and officials and is not only more democratic, but also more inclusive and open to those served by the government. How are co-governance relationships best developed, sustained, and supported? The clearest way to answer this question is not in theory, but from the learned experiences of co-governance, at the neighborhood, city, and state level. In this report, we highlight five of these cases in communities across the country where progress has been made to improve the quality of life and strengthen the bonds of community for all through the collaborative work of democracy.

Housing Needs for Older Adults in Southeastern Wisconsin [Two-Pager]

October 8, 2021

The Social IMPACT Research Center has conducted an assessment of the affordable housing needs of older adults in Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Racine Counties in Wisconsin. The report documents the affordable housing gap in Southeastern Wisconsin for older adults, and details the services that the growing aging population will most need. The full report can be found at:

Housing Needs for Older Adults in Southeastern Wisconsin

September 13, 2021

This report provides an assessment of the affordable housing needs of older adults in Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Racine Counties in Wisconsin. It documents the affordable housing gap in Southeastern Wisconsin for older adults, and details the services that the growing aging population will most need.

Concealed Carry Is Linked to Increased Gun Violence in Wisconsin

September 1, 2021

In November 2011, a new law went into effect in Wisconsin that dramatically changed the state's approach to public carry of firearms. For the first time, individuals in Wisconsin were allowed to carry concealed firearms in their community after obtaining a concealed carry weapons (CCW) permit from the Wisconsin Department of Justice. The law established relatively minimal eligibility requirements for a permit: Applicants must be a state resident; be at least 21 years old; not be prohibited from gun possession under federal and state law; and fulfill minimal training requirements, such as presenting a hunter education certificate or a current or an expired CCW license from another state. Permits are valid for five years and can be renewed without completing any additional training. Also, the law does not provide the state Department of Justice with any discretion in determining whether to issue a CCW permit: If an individual meets the minimum statutory eligibility requirements, the agency must issue the permit. According to data from Wisconsin's Department of Justice, from 2011 through 2020, 706,575 applications for concealed carry permits were issued and only 14,575 applications were denied after the applicant failed a background checkAlthough the law passed roughly a decade ago, there is a dearth of research addressing its potential effects on public safety in Wisconsin, in part because the law includes limitations on access to such data. However, an analysis of publicly available data from local agencies, the FBI, and other national databases suggests that the CCW law has led to negative consequences for safety in the state. Three categories of violent gun-related crime have increased since its implementation: gun homicides, aggravated assaults that involve a gun, and gun-related homicides and assaults against law enforcement officers. In addition, gun theft in Wisconsin has increased dramatically. The law is also associated with a significant rise in gun sales, particularly handguns, in the state, suggesting that it may have incentivized more Wisconsin residents to become gun owners.These data provide more than sufficient evidence for lawmakers in Wisconsin to take a second look at the CCW law and take action to strengthen it. Even as states across the country move to weaken laws related to carrying guns in public—with some going so far as to eliminate permit requirements altogether, whether for open or concealed carry--Wisconsin's experience provides an instructive example of the potential harms caused by such an approach.

Improving Community Safety Through Public Health Strategies: Lessons From Atlanta and Milwaukee

July 20, 2021

This report offers early lessons and recommendations from work the Annie E. Casey Foundation is supporting in Atlanta and Milwaukee to prevent gun violence. These communities are part of a national movement to increase safety and heal trauma by examining root causes and addressing these issues from a public health and racial justice perspective. Residents in both cities are shaping and leading safety strategies with the support of local nonprofits and other public and private partners. Their stories highlight the many ways that philanthropic and system leaders can help catalyze alternative public safety models and support their development and implementation — including helping to establish a new narrative about what it takes to keep communities safe and building and sharing evidence on effective public health interventions.As the work featured in this report shows, both public and private entities have roles to play in supporting a public health approach to safety. Residents in Atlanta, with funding and support from Casey and other investors, established a neighborhood-based advisory group and began implementing the Cure Violence model. In Milwaukee, another place where the Foundation is supporting Cure Violence, the movement to reimagine public safety is being driven by the city's Office of Violence Prevention. Each community developed strategies and programs based on local goals, needs and circumstances. One common thread underpinning their efforts has been the purposeful engagement and inclusion of people living in the areas directly affected by violence.

Public-Private Partnerships in Emergency Response: A Case Study of Milwaukee’s Civic Response Team

July 6, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic was an all-hands-on-deck moment. As communities were jolted into emergency response on many fronts—health, jobs, housing, education, childcare, food, and mental health—collaboration and coordination became essential. In Milwaukee, the Civic Response Team united local governments, philanthropy, and nonprofits to collectively manage response and recovery. In just weeks, they housed hundreds of people, delivered tens of thousands of meals, built and promoted a COVID-19 testing system, distributed hundreds of thousands of masks, provided families with technology to connect to school, rescued childcare providers, and soothed anxieties and grief.This paper studies how the public-private partnerships within the Civic Response Team worked during their first year, and shows what we can learn from them to support better partnership and emergency response in the future.

The Power and Problem of Criminal Justice Data: A Twenty-State Review

June 30, 2021

Despite accounting for a substantial portion of local, state, and federal budgets, our criminal justice institutions are among the least measured systems in our country. In an effort to bring transparency to this sector, MFJ has collected, standardized, and made public 20 states' worth of criminal justice data.The purpose of this report is to share what we have learned through this effort, including: (a) what we cannot see when data are missing, and (b) the value that data can provide when they are available and comparable. In particular, we identify patterns around the following:There is a substantial lack of data around pretrial detention and release decision-making, as well as individual demographics (particularly indigence).New data privacy laws are also making it needlessly difficult to obtain certain data. This poses challenges to understanding how individuals experience the system in cases that do not result in conviction.There is great variation in how counties dispose of and sentence nonviolent cases; how financial obligations are imposed on individuals; and the collateral consequences that individuals face when convicted.Across many of these findings, where demographics are available, we have an opportunity to identify and respond to significant disparities in group outcomes.This report challenges stakeholders and policymakers to dig deeper into these patterns and missing data. It also implores policymakers and legislators to improve criminal justice data infrastructure to ensure a more transparent, fair, and equitable implementation of justice.

Women’s Funds of Northeast Wisconsin COVID-19's Impact on Women in Northeast Wisconsin Study

June 28, 2021

This report is based on the responses of 1,050 women from the northeast region of Wisconsin that lived, worked, and parented through the COVID-19 global pandemic. This document summarizes data and analysis from a survey that covers multiple themes (e.g., employment, family, schooling, violence, mental health, etc.) as well as multiple demographic measures. The findings speak to the challenges faced by many during the pandemic, but our focus is to understand the unique challenges faced by women in Northeast Wisconsin. The goal of the following sections is to provide a narrative analysis that establishes broad themes and patterns in the data. A supplementary dashboard tool will allow for closer inspection of each survey item and analysis by discrete categories (e.g., age, county, income level, and more).

Ballots for All: Ensuring Eligible Wisconsinites in Jail Have Equal Access to Voting

June 23, 2021

Our democracy works best when all eligible Wisconsinites participate. The freedom to vote is central to building an America that works for us all. But too many Wisconsinites face needless and discriminatory barriers that limit this right. This is particularly true of eligible Wisconsinites in county jails.This report updates our July 2020 report, Ballots for All: Ensuring Eligible Wisconsin Voters in Jail Have Equal Access to Voting. In the past year, many jail administrators have taken small but important steps to increase ballot access for individuals in their care. Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions on who can support jail-based voter registration and absentee ballot application events in county jails, advocates and jail administrators found creative ways to ensure that eligible Wisconsinites could have their voices heard in the 2020 elections. While this is progress, troubling barriers remain. This report offers additional recommendations for state and local officials to protect the freedom to vote for every eligible Wisconsinite.

2021 Report to the Community

June 1, 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic was first making its impact felt in our region, we were able to assert our financial resiliency and be among the first charitable institutions in the nation to act boldly, quickly establishing a $50 million emergency fund through our subsidiary, Community Benefit Financial Company (CBFC). This platform was structured to provide desperately needed assistance to organizations as they worked to support those whose lives were suddenly buffeted by unprecedented health, economic, and racial justice challenges.Over the ensuing months, CBFC emerged as a trusted partner to a network of frontline agencies working in collaboration with other organizations to provide financial support and emergency services throughout the region, including community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and community development corporations (CDCs).Between our responsive grantmaking and emergency fund distributions, in 2020 OBT invested more than $71 million in 900+ organizations across the region.

Collective Impact in Emergency Response: A Case Study of Milwaukee’s COVID-19 Civic Response Team

August 17, 2020

Milwaukee's COVID-19 response has been a remarkable mobilization of resources and organizations to address needs for shelter, food, testing, Internet connection, and more. Necessity has forced such collective efforts in many cities, but Milwaukee's may be unique in the civic architecture that has been built and that may be sustained beyond the crisis.The experience in Milwaukee provides a window into a city's comprehensive response to the COVID-19 crisis that also offers six lessons for how collective impact initiatives can be most effective in both meeting emergency needs and pursuing systems changes.