Journey House empowers families on Milwaukee's near Southside to move out of poverty by offering adult education, youth development, workforce readiness, and family engagement.
Every individual and family in Clarke Square will be given the tools and resources to succeed and contribute personally, professionally, and civically to the neighborhood and our greater Milwaukee community.
Each year, Journey House expresses its gratitude and celebrates its accomplishments through an annual report. We provide a transparent and concise overview of our revenue sources, participant demographics, and program offerings. We hope this report provides you with the information you need, but if you find yourself looking for more details, we are always open to inquiries. Enjoy!
Facts & Figures
In the News
Good news! That's the kind of news we like to see, and Journey House has been fortunate to have the positive attention of the media in a number of different ways over the years. Here are some stories to help you better understand our mission of empowering families to move out of poverty.
Since 1969, Journey House has been transforming lives in and around Milwaukee's near south side. Over time, the organization has grown from a small start-up founded by VISTA volunteers to a highly-visible community asset located physically and figuratively in the center of Clarke Square. Journey House continues to serve as a premier catalytic agent of change for the individuals and families that utilize its resources.
Where We Were
The Happy Moon Journey House derived its name from the United States' successful lunar landing in 1969. VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) workers established Journey House as a community service operation staffed 100% by volunteers. The goal was to help youth and families living in poverty to overcome obstacles and attain a higher quality of life. The primary focus of the agency was on local youth and young adults. With ping-pong and pool tables, a soda machine, and plenty of open space for volunteers to engage youth in activities such as arts and crafts, leather work, and photography, the facility offered a safe place for youth to get away from urban and peer pressures. Supplies and materials were provided thanks to the generosity of Zion United Church of Christ (S. 14th St. and Greenfield Ave.).
Journey House received its first grant in 1970 from the Social Development Commission (SDC) Youth Development Institute. The Center's first Director (Frank Miller) and Assistant Director (John Gurda) were hired, and volunteers continued to drive Journey House's programming. Additional funding was acquired throughout the 1970s as Journey House demonstrated a capacity to engage with the community in meaningful ways. In addition to administrative staff, Journey House was able to hire adult educators and youth workers who could offer more consistent programs to residents of Clarke Square and the surrounding community. As is the case today, volunteers continued to play an integral role in the everyday happenings of Journey House, as four different directors oversaw the agency during this decade.
History of JH Directors: Frank Miller (1971-1972) | Bill Arndt (1972-1973) | Sandy Lardinois (1973-1978) | Tom Williams (1978-1986) | Steve Peterson (1987) | Todd Loe (1987-1991) | Nicolette Pump (1991-1998)
Youth programming became more formalized in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Journey House youth center took on the name of Kids Korner and included Youth Employment and Training Programs (YETP). The mid-1980s were challenging times at Journey House, as several grants ended. The remaining staff and center were forced to relocate to 1538 W. National Ave in 1986. Things began trending back upward in 1987, however, as Journey House purchased a church at 1900 W. Washington Street in order to better position itself to serve the needs of the community. The church was retrofitted to serve the agency's programs, and the primary activities at this location revolved around adult education programs.
Dr. Michele Bria joined the Journey House staff in 1996 as Education Director. Just over two years later, she assumed the role of Executive Director. She continues to lead Journey House today, now under the title of CEO. Dr. Bria envisioned great things for Journey House, and one of those visions included world-class facilities. While Journey House was fortunate to have multiple spaces to house its diverse activities, that space did not always serve the needs of the neighborhood to its fullest. Ceiling tiles falling on GED students' heads, water-logged carpets from leaky roofs in the youth center, windows that would not open. It was space, yes, but it was not the kind of space that made participants believe they were valued and appreciated as part of the community. While the staff always made tremendous use of very limited resources and cramped, dim gathering spaces, there was the sense that Journey House could be something more, that it could offer even more to the community than it could in this space.
The new millennium brought with it a new era for the Journey House. Beginning in the early 2000s, the agency embarked on an ambitious capital campaign with the goal of building a single facility to house all of Journey House's programs and improve staff efficiency. Through a unique public-private partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools, the agency secured a relationship with Longfellow Elementary School to build a new facility on part of the school's large playground. Construction of Journey House's current facility began in 2010.
In the midst of Journey House's capital campaign, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arose to receive the turf from the Green Bay Packers' Ray Nitschke practice field. Wisconsin's beloved football team had acquired new turf and removed, rolled up and stored the old practice field. When the team learned of Journey House's youth football program, they graciously offered to donate their former practice field. Journey House again secured a new public-private partnership, this time with Milwaukee County Parks, and the field would be installed in Mitchell Park behind the Mitchell Domes in 2012. The entrance to the Journey House Packers Stadium stands on Pierce Street at South 22nd Street in Milwaukee County Mitchell Park.
Where We Are
Located on Milwaukee's near south side, Journey House serves a population comprised primarily of Latino and African-American youth and adults. Participants in Journey House's programs come principally from the neighborhoods directly surrounding the agency, but individuals and families from 14 different zip codes around the city regularly take advantage of the services and resources Journey House offers. Here are the principal programs and activities the agency provides:
Journey House has experienced tremendous growth since its new facility opened its doors in May 2012. The organization serves over 6,000 different individuals annually through its core programs of adult education, youth development, workforce readiness, and family engagement. Journey House is a proud member organization of the United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee (UNCOM) and eagerly participates in partnerships and collaborative relationships with for-profit and not-for-profit organizations throughout the Metro Milwaukee area.
As Journey House continues to grow, careful fiscal oversight and financial sustainability remain a prominent focus in order to ensure that the promises the organization makes to its participants can be upheld now and into the future. With a diverse funding stream and a focus on securing local dollars, the agency works diligently to provide the highest quality of services without becoming too dependent on any particular source of support.
Where We Are Going
Journey House has demonstrated tremendous capacity for growth as an organization. More importantly, Journey House's growth has been accompanied by a profound impact on the Clarke Square neighborhood and the greater Milwaukee community. When other agencies have needed to discontinue services or close their doors due to limited resources, Journey House has stepped forward to ensure that the community would not be negatively impacted by the change. Journey House has embraced the challenges that come along with serving a diverse clientele in a challenging neighborhood, and the results have shown that community investments pay off in the form of reduced violence, increased community engagement, and more people employed.
As time marches on, Journey House is focused on enhancing current programs and seeking ways to have an even more profound impact on current and prospective participants. The Journey House facilities--both the organization's central building, as well as the Journey House Packers Stadium--represent the investments of a committed Board of Directors, hardworking staff, and eager participants. The next step is to take what exists and make it even better through a commitment to retention and onboarding of high-quality staff who effectively deliver Journey House's programs in a professional manner unparalleled for a community organization anywhere throughout the country.
Journey House is eager to see what the future holds. Milwaukee residents living in poverty respond ambitiously to the opportunity to increase their quality of life. Journey House has played a significant catalyzing role in this process since 1969. We are committed to long-term impact and ensuring that the services we offer meet the needs and wishes of the community we serve. To accomplish this, Journey House will continue to collaborate with organizations throughout the greater Milwaukee community. We look forward to what the future holds!
Our 5-year Vision
(Created in 2013)