Annual Urban Initiatives Conference


Registration and Logistics


Register online here.

If you need to pay with a check, download the registration form.


Italian Community Center
631 East Chicago Street, Milwaukee, WI


Jarad Parker
For special arrangements, please contacted the Center for Urban Initiatives and Research at 414-229-6616.

Conference Details

Collective impact initiatives have been a rapidly growing trend in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Typically such efforts convene all of the groups who can affect a community-wide outcome and coordinate their strategies and work to achieve them. Several efforts around the country, including in Milwaukee, have utilized this approach to move the needle substantially on issues like teen pregnancy prevention, high school graduation rates, and recidivism among ex-offenders. Many others are finding it challenging to collaborate in a more comprehensive way and achieve progress.

 The 17th Annual Urban Initiatives Conference will explore collective impact and how it fits in the Milwaukee tapestry of initiatives. A morning kickoff with Paul Schmitz, Senior Advisor to the national Collective Impact Forum and former CEO of Public Allies, will provide attendees with the foundations of collective impact work. Following the kickoff, experts in the topic from foundations and nonprofit organizations will facilitate in-depth conversations about the promises and challenges inherent in taking this approach. Michael Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for My Brother's Keeper, will deliver a luncheon presentation on applying a racial equity lens to collaborative work. Afternoon sessions will be dedicated to understanding how Milwaukee and surrounding communities can move forward for greater social impact given a complex environment that includes multiple initiatives. This exciting conference is appropriate for those new to or already involved in collective impact work, and will address opportunities and concerns specific to private, public, and philanthropic sectors. Join us and help Milwaukee move forward!

Download the conference brochure.


7:30 - 8:30 am:        Registration
8:30 - 8:45 am:        Welcome
8:45 - 10:00 am:     Opening Plenary with Paul Schmitz
10:10 - 11:30 am:   Morning Breakout Sessions

  • Collective Impact: Digging Deeper
  • Funding Collective Impact
  • Collective Impact Backbones: What Works?
  • Engaging Community in Collective Impact
  • What it mean to be a Nonprofit Partner in Collective Impact

11:30 - 12:15:       Lunch
12:00 - 1:00 pm:  Lunch Plenary with Michael Smith
1:00 - 1:50 pm:    Mapping Moving Trains
2:00 - 3:20 pm:    Afternoon Conversations
3:30 pm:               Closing Remarks

Making Connections Reception to immediately follow the closing remarks.


paul  head group2Keynote Speaker: Paul Schmitz

Paul Schmitz is CEO of Leading Inside Out, a nonprofit and philanthropic advisory group. He also serves as Senior Advisor to The Collective Impact Forum, an initiative of FSG and The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions; and is the first Innovator in Residence at Georgetown University's Beeck Center for Social Innovation and Impact. Paul is the author of Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up (Jossey Bass, 2011), and the former CEO of Public Allies where he spent 21 years helping more than 5,600 diverse young leaders turn their passions to make a difference into careers working for community and social change.

 Paul is a faculty member of The Asset-Based Community Development Institute; a board member of Independent Sector, The United Way of Greater Milwaukee, The Corps Network, and the NYU Leadership Initiative; and the former co-chair of Voices for National Service. Paul co-chaired the 2008 Obama Presidential campaign’s Civic Engagement Policy Group, was a member of The Obama-Biden Transition Team, and was appointed by President Obama to The White House Council on Community Solutions.
Paul is an honors graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he received their Graduate of the Last Decade Alumni award. He has been recognized by The Rockefeller Foundation as a Next Generation Leadership Fellow, by the Nonprofit Times three separate years as one of the 50 most influential nonprofit leaders in America, and by Fast Company Magazine with their Social Capitalist Award for innovation. He lives in Milwaukee with his partner and five children.

Michael SmithLuncheon Speaker: Michael Smith

Michael is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for My Brother’s Keeper at the White House. In this role he manages the president’s initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.

Prior to joining the White House team, Michael served as director of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a key White House initiative and program of the Corporation for National and Community Service that combines federal and private investment to help scale and replicate evidence-based solutions to complex social challenges. Before joining the Obama Administration Michael served as Senior Vice President of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation, where he oversaw the Foundation’s giving and program strategy, and guided numerous sector-building initiatives and public-private partnerships, such as the Startup America Partnership.

Prior to the Case Foundation, Michael helped build national initiatives aimed at bridging the “digital divide” at the Beaumont Foundation of America and PowerUP, served as a senior program and communications staff member at a the Family Center Boys & Girls Club in Springfield, MA, was an aide to U.S. Congressman Richard E. Neal and received a B.A. in Communications from Marymount University. Michael also served for many years on the boards of Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE), and Public Allies prior to his government service.






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Previous Urban Initiatives Conferences

Attended by hundreds each year, the Annual Urban Initiatives Conference creates dynamic dialogue about issues facing the greater Milwaukee community.

Recent conferences include: