When it was announced that Milwaukee business and civic leader, Joseph Zilber, was giving $50 million to fund neighborhood initiatives the response, as expected, expressed gratitude and hope.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called the action "an unbelievably generous gift from Joe Zilber to this city."
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article focused on something just as important as the size of the gift, it's scope:
The Zilber Neighborhood Initiative, as the effort will be called, will work with local organizations to support specific efforts to improve the quality of life in up to 10 neighborhoods...
...A key early step will be creating or selecting a "central intermediary," an organization to oversee the effort and make decisions on where money should go, while giving neighborhood organizations and representatives a strong voice in what goes on.
The gift to the people of Milwaukee measured in dollars is obvious. Not so obvious is the thought and planning that went into the structure of the gift. As Zilber noted:
...There are a great many individuals and foundations prepared to invest resources to strengthen our community. For months I have worked behind the scenes with these entities. My mission is to mobilize them with good ideas, strong proposals and the promise that our shared commitment to our great city will yield positive results...
Joseph Zilber and his advisers gave careful thought to the structure of neighborhoods, how neighborhoods change, and the importance of building upon neighborhood assets:
We can (and must) act quickly and decisively to support programs that work, replace those that don't, bring proven and promising solutions to scale, sustain them long enough to gain traction and provide them with sufficient resources to get the job done.
The selection of Susan E. Lloyd of the Program on Human and Community Development to direct the effort is just one more indicator that this is a well planned gift. The money is important, but the context makes it even more valuable.