By Karen Stokes

Markasa Tucker-Harris, Executive Director African American Roundtable (Photo/African American Roundtable)

The Milwaukee-based African-American Roundtable has received the $500,000 True Reformer Institutional Grant from the Public Welfare Foundation (PWF).

Seven True Reformer Grants have been awarded to organizations nationwide advancing restorative, community-led, and racially just approaches to justice to honor the Foundation’s 75th anniversary.

The Public Welfare Foundation has supported efforts to advance justice and opportunity for those in need. Over its 75-year history, the Foundation has awarded more than 5,700 grants totaling more than $700 million.

Institutional grants are one-time injections of capital intended to strengthen the operational and programmatic infrastructure of an organization so that it can continue its work into the future.

The African American Roundtable (AART) is a black-led, black-serving coalition in Milwaukee.

“We organize the community around issues to help support prosperous living and a prosperous community in which to live. We build and develop leaders to do the work that organizers do so that we develop people to act as community advocates for the things they need to thrive here in the city of Milwaukee,” said said chief executive Markasa Tucker-Harris.

The organization was founded in 2011 after some black organizers and nonprofit leaders wanted to have an organization where the money was funded by a black organization to support black leaders and their work and the issues they were working on.

Candice C. Jones, President and CEO, Public Welfare Foundation
(Photo/Public Welfare Foundation)

In 2017, Markasa Tucker-Harris became the director. At that time, the organization was working on police reform. In 2019, the organization moved from police reform work to creating a campaign called LiberateMKE.

“We’re asking for a $25 million divestment from the police and investing that money in the community,” Tucker-Harris said. “We organized around that and people started coming out and showing up at city budget hearings demanding that they wanted the money to go somewhere else and not so heavily into policing.”

Other True Reformer recipients include:

Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition: Denver, Colorado Michigan Center for Youth Justice: Ann Arbor, Michigan, Operation Restoration: New Orleans, La., People’s Advocacy Institute: Jackson, Miss, Voices for a Second Chance: Washington, DC Women on The Rise : Atlanta, Georgia.

“The African American Roundtable is leading the way for a transformative new approach to justice in Milwaukee that is community-led, restorative, and racially just. They deserve not only our praise, but also our investment to ensure they can continue to take this work forward in the years to come,” said Candice C. Jones, President and CEO of the Public Welfare Foundation. .