How Wisconsin Voices is helping to uplift communities across the state
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- During Black History Month, CBS 58 is looking at history in the making, highlighting influential people and organizations making strides in our area.
Wisconsin Voices is a local nonprofit making a long-term impact in communities across the state.
"Wisconsin Voices is a 501-C3 organization that basically uplifts smaller 501-C3s. Our three prime goals are to protect democracy, build community, and teach advocacy," said Tomika Vukovic, co-executive director of Organizational Empowerment.
Wisconsin Voices has more than 50 partners across the state. Helping support its partners gives the organization the power to make an impact year-round.
"A lot of times funders or different organizations want to tell an organization what to do. We want to go in there and say 'hey, what do you do?' And then say, 'how can we help you?'" Vukovic said.
Reimagining civic engagement is one of the core values. Wisconsin Voices is often busy during election seasons. A lot of their work is about educating and advocating.
"They want people to vote but they haven't told them why it's important to vote. There is a huge missing piece in that," Vukovic said.
The passion for community here is bigger than just politics. "We don't want people to feel like voting is the only thing our organization is about. Our organization is about building our communities, protecting our democracy," said LaToya White, director of Organizing and Partnership.
Wisconsin Voices recently launched a pilot youth program for young adults 17 to 24. "Wisconsin Voices means everything to me. They taught me so much about myself," said Cornelius Bobo, youth program participant.
Emmanuel Arevalo also participated in the youth program and says he enjoyed the experience. "I learned a lot about how to communicate with everybody when it comes to police, relationships, friendships, and pretty much just how to live overall," he said.
Wisconsin Voices has a strong network of partners. White says her favorite part of the job is working with their partners. "I just see their faces light up when they really see that change and that's the most powerful thing to me," she said.
Face to face community engagement is a big part of LaToya's role. "You're not going to connect with the community if you're not out there," she said. To continue to strengthen the mission of Wisconsin Voices, it's important to continue building its partnership network.
Bryan Sanders is the lead organizer in partnerships and development. He says the best way to build community is by going out and connecting with the right people. "Naturally, I've been pretty big into networking myself, so I believe in going out there and just being genuine," he said.
Born and raised in Milwaukee himself, Sanders says the work he does through Wisconsin Voices is personal. "Being able to work in your community and see organizations thriving and helping, whether it's mothers with gun violence or organizations trying to get fresh food and fresh vegetables out, or individuals that want to help young men become stronger professionals…it means a lot to me," he said.
It's that passion for community that runs deep within this team that'll ensure they continue to make a strong impact.
For more information on how you can help contribute to the mission of Wisconsin Voices, click here.