Lead2Change, Inc.

Social Share



Mission - To empower and inspire youth to be catalysts for change in their communities.

Vision - A community strengthened through constructive youth engagement in all aspects of society.


Brief History

Lead2Change is a youth leadership program that uses philanthropy as a tool to develop young leaders committed to creating change in the greater Milwaukee area.  Led by a majority youth board of directors, Lead2Change engages youth and adults in opportunities to partner and devise strategies to effectively manage Lead2Change, Inc. programs.  Lead2Change is a result of program growth and a comprehensive needs assessment conducted in the summer of 2009 by Youth Advisory Council members.  As stated by Milwaukee’s youth in the needs assessment, it was evidenced that the

 greater Milwaukee area was in need of additional youth leadership and service opportunities.  Lead2Change, Inc. is prepared to fill this gap as it envisions a community strengthened through constructive youth engagement in all aspects of society.  




Youth Advisory Council

Our grant programs are guided by a Youth Advisory Council (YAC). YAC members are young people ages 13-18 representing private and public schools, and varied socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Council members advise the board of directors on the expenditure of grant dollars for youth-led service projects in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties.  The group meets weekly to determine ways to advocate for youth service and leadership.  YAC members review submitted grant proposals and select those that they think are creative, viable, well organized and best meet the guideline criteria. These organizations are then asked to make presentations before YAC members. After these presentations, YAC makes the final recommendations to the board of directors of which projects to fund.  YAC members are recruited between 8th and 10th grade and maintain involvement until they graduate from high school.  The YAC participates in all facets of the organization from board meetings to varied fund development activities.  YAC members and youth grantees engage in programs and activities that aim to achieve core program outcomes.  Goals are measured through the development and maintenance of Individual Development Plans devised by YAC members and through pre and post assessments for youth leaders of funded projects. 


Youth In Service Fund

The Youth In Service Fund (YISF) is Lead2Change’s signature program and a valued resource to the greater Milwaukee community. This program provides grant dollars ranging from $50 - $2,500 to youth-led community service projects. Since its inception in 1996 by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the fund has dispersed over $570,000 to youth groups for the purpose of empowering young people in the areas of youth leadership and philanthropy.


The Youth In Service Fund supports community service projects developed by young people and involves youth in community decision-making and philanthropy.  Youth grantees prepare the grant application and interview with Youth Advisory Council members who decide which projects best meet grant guidelines and criteria based on our rubric system.  Funded projects have addressed a wide variety of focus areas, including: service, nature, education, arts, youth development, elderly, health, poverty, special needs, violence, animals, drug prevention, and sports.  This grant program is offered twice annually.



This annual grant program disburses two $5,000 grants to youth groups who respond to the question, “What would you do with a $5,000 grant to make Milwaukee better?”  DreamBig! challenges young people to devise a project idea that will positively impact their community.  Youth groups submit an application, present their project idea to the YAC and grant recipients are announced at our annual DreamBig! in August. 


Girls Leading Change

Youth Advisory Council teen girls partnered with the Women’s Fund and assisted with raising grant dollars for Girls Leading Change.  This grant program is designed to engage girls in developing projects that promote social change around issues that are important to girls.  In 2011, Lead2Change funded The Beauty Within project led by teens at Shorewood High School.  This project promoted self-esteem, positive health related choices and social skills.


Summer Youth Grant Making Initiative

In an effort to inform the community about youth


-advised grant-making, the YAC solicited relevant information from the greater Milwaukee area youth through a summer survey project. For eight weeks, the YAC utilized the Milwaukee county transit system to gather information from their peers related to current community issues, needs, and ideas. Twenty-three hundred surveys were collected from 74 youth-serving organizations from our four counties we service.  Survey results ultimately drove funding decisions for the respective three years. This initiative was recognized by the Council of Community Foundation in Michigan as a best practice and will be conducted again in 2012. 




James A. Marks Legacy Award

This most prestigious award named after Jim Marks, founder of the Youth In Service Fund and long-time supporter of youth engagement, recognizes individuals or groups who have made substantial and long term impact in youth programming within our four counties we service.  The individual or group recognized exemplifies excellence in the youth development field and has a noted reputation for operating in integrity.  The recipient is selected by the YAC and is announced at the annual Dream


Big! event.



Association of Fundraising Professionals Youth In Philanthropy Award

In partnership with the Association of Fundraising Professionals, this award recognizes a young person or youth group who has made great contributions in the philanthropy field in the past calendar year.  Lead2Change was the inaugural recipient of the award in 2011 and will select the winner from 2012 and beyond.



Contact Information

Lead2Change, Inc.

735 N. Water Street, Suite 727

Milwaukee, WI 53202

Office: 414.226.2410

Email: info@lead2changeinc.org

Web: www.lead2changeinc.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lead2changeinc 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/lead2changeinc


Youth Scroll


Social Share

Lead2Change, Inc.