Sherman Park Neighborhood Visioning Session
On Oct. 20, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation hosted its third Neighborhood Visioning Session at Parklawn Assembly of God. The event was facilitated by Piper Anderson, founder and president of Create Forward. The third Visioning Session featured a number of residents and key stakeholders who gathered to discuss possible solutions for the betterment of the Sherman Park community. Over the course of three hours, participants identified the following categories as focus areas: homeownership, community building and relationships, youth engagement, entrepreneurship, neighborhood schools and faith-based community involvement. Read more about the opportunities and challenges identified for each category.
The third and final session featured our highest turnout in overall youth involvement. This feat provided insight on a number of topics from a youth perspective. The youth provided insight on the neighborhood schools overall quality. The youth in the room provided real-life examples of how they feel the school system has failed them. Some examples they gave were old textbooks, teachers not being prepared with new material to spark interest and the overall lack of showing that they care. A recurring theme that the youth seemed to echo was an overall understanding between the youth the adults in the neighborhood. The youth showed that they are invested in Sherman Park and would like to see change, but it all starts with teamwork and an overall understanding of one another that crosses all age barriers.
“One of the major concerns right now with the Sherman Park area is finding a solution that drives positive outcomes for youth, those above the age of 13.”
“I’ve met some of the kids and I’d want them to know these children by name. They’re not just a number, know their dreams, know their faces – they are beautiful children.”
– Bishop Harvey, Parklawn Assembly of God
Throughout the session, residents expressed heartfelt testimonies and developed practical and wild solutions to address challenges in Sherman Park. One particular testimony touched on relationships between the youth and elderly. It not only sparked a meaningful conversation, but also forced residents to look at the challenges from multiple perspectives. The youth representative in the room offered insight on the lack of understanding that youth and elderly have about each other due to different generational values. These differences are what make a community, and the group concluded that Sherman Park has the spirit and perseverance to thrive by coming together as one.
The act of coming together as one sparked a conversation that involved a plan on how to build the community by offering residents more access to wealth. Participants proposed the creation of a centralized career center that would cater to Sherman Park residents and provide resources like transportation, child care and housing to help overcome barriers. It would also offer training and development opportunities geared toward promoting entrepreneurship, which would create an environment for more local businesses. Though this idea was wild and elaborate, it showed cohesion among residents.
Advisory Council Update
On Nov. 12, 2018 the advisory council met for the first time. Our goal is to support
community-driven change in neighborhoods that have experienced years of
disinvestment and lacked access to equal opportunity. The cool thing about this advisory council is everyone is a resident or actively working in the Sherman Park community. The council members reviewed and discussed the top three issues that rose to the top during the community engagement process: Youth engagement, housing and employment.
After much deliberation, the one big idea that was identified is youth engagement.
The next steps will be for the advisory council to develop the criteria for selecting
proposals from the community. The projects supported will be creative and innovative with the goal to help youth reach their full potential.
Challenges facing Sherman Park youth:
33% of Sherman Park residents are under the age of 14 and existing youth programming does not meet the demand for youth engagement in the neighborhood. 35% of Sherman Park East households are living in poverty. The Milwaukee high school rate of 64% for Black students is the second lowest in the country.
These stats show that we are taking a step in the right direction. So what’s next?
Identifying programs led by credible messengers who are:
- Experienced youth workers who are passionate about improving the lives of Sherman Park youth
- History of living and working in Sherman Park
- Trained in trauma informed practice
A sustainable program model that creates measurable change in the lives of 16-24 year old Sherman Park youth:
- Positive behavioral change
- Programs that lead to employment and/or employability
- Exposure to professional fields in which people of color are underrepresented
- Commitment to partnerships or a collective impact that leverages existing resources to youth as they transition into adulthood
“It’s been awesome to see our community come together as one, identify issues and curate ideas to work towards building a thriving community. The residents of Sherman Park consistently showed up and used their voices at the visioning sessions. We received great feedback from leaders in Sherman Park and some even agreed to join the advisory council. The people of Sherman Park are ready for change and they are willing to do the work to ensure it. It’s been a pleasure to serve as the Neighborhood Fellow for Sherman Park & I look forward to the outcome!
– Keaira Linyard, neighborhood fellow