President's Challenge - Past Winners

2020 - COVID-19 Response Grant

The 2020 President's Challenge, developed in partnership with American Family Insurance and Johnson Controls, provided funding for innovative, interdisciplinary, collaborative work that addresses needs in Milwaukee’s community that have been created or magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic and represent critical areas in the community’s recovery efforts.

The program supported proposals up to $50K for one year and was selected from the following community-informed focus areas:

Mental health and wellness

  • There is a need to better understand COVID-19’s current and future effects on mental health and wellness as Milwaukee endures and ultimately recovers from the pandemic.
  • Includes, but not limited to: impact on psychological trauma, economic trauma, mental health, behavioral sciences, food insecurities, models for recovery, impacts on healthcare workers and their families

Economic revitalization

  • According to a recent study, Milwaukee is estimating the economic fallout from the pandemic will cost the city $6.7 million in revenue in March and April alone. How can and does Milwaukee revitalize its economy and communities?
  • Includes, but not limited to: innovations, models for recovery, anticipated changes, public policy, monetary policy, fiscal policy, government operations, public services, small business support

Health services

  • This pandemic has highlighted strengths and opportunities within Milwaukee’s healthcare services.
  • Includes, but not limited to: healthcare analytics, healthcare delivery, population health, health communications, disproportionate impacts on minoritized-groups, pandemic preparation


  1. Dr. Walter Bialkowski“Empowering Those Who Seek to End Hunger through Collaboration and Innovation” 
    Solutions to optimize public food service distribution to meet the growing need brought upon by sudden unemployment.
  2. Dr. Andrea Schneider“When Safer-at-Home is Not Actually Safe: Supporting Intimate Partner Violence Survivors during Quarantine” 
    A study on the impact of safer-at-home orders has on intimate partner violence
  3. Mr. Patrick Kennelly, “Promoting Resiliency & Improved Coping in Education (PRICE)”
    An online toolkit resource for teachers to assist students from disproportionately affected populations with the effects of COVID-19 and systemic racism

Learn more about the 2020 winners. 


2019 - Inaugural President's Challenge

In 2018, President Mike Lovell, with the Johnson Controls Foundation, "committed to awarding a $250,000, two-year grant to one interdisciplinary, collaborative proposal that seeks to change the trajectory of lives in the greater Marquette community by addressing one or more of the critical areas in which neighborhood inequities exist: health, education, safety, housing, transportation and economic prosperity." Read more about the first President's Challenge. 


Dr. Amy Van Hecke, "Next Step Clinic"
The Next Step Clinic is community clinic meant to address the mental health and developmental needs of underserved children and families in Milwaukee. Read more.