DOI / VISTA Team Projects

Groundwork Milwaukee

DOI / VISTA: Katelyn Budke
Supervisor: Mary Beth Driscoll
Address: 1845 N. Farwell #100, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
County: Milwaukee
Voice Telephone: 414-431-0919
Web site:
Congressional District: 4
Bureau: National Park Service (NPS)


The mission of Groundwork Milwaukee is to bring about the sustained regeneration, improvement, and management of the physical environment by developing community-based partnerships that empower people, businesses, and organizations to promote environmental, economic, and social well-being.

The DOI/VISTA project site Groundwork Milwaukee is sponsored by the National Park Service (NPS) whose mission is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

About the Surrounding Community

Milwaukee has the dubious distinction as the most segregated American City and ranks among the top ten most impoverished cities in the US. 94% of the participants in Groundwork Milwaukee service learning and job training programs are minorities from underserved areas. The Harambee neighborhood west through the 30th Street Industrial Corridor and the Kinnickinnic River watershed are highly impacted by unemployment, contaminated environments, and /or concentrations of vacant lots. The Corridor consists of approximately 9.5 square miles located 2 miles northwest of downtown Milwaukee. For over a century, it flourished as an industrial corridor that ran along the north-south railroad tracks.  Prior to the 1970s, these industries employed an estimated 40% of residents living in neighborhoods along the Corridor, but now, less than 15% of the local residents are employed there. The Corridor area is densely populated with more than 90,000 people or 15% of Milwaukee’s 596,974 residents. Residents in the Corridor are mainly African American (92%) versus 55% for the city as a whole. More than one third (37.6%) of the residents in the Corridor live below the poverty level with the average household income just below $30,000. Nearly 25% of adults are unemployed. By comparison, 21.3% of Milwaukee residents live below the poverty level with an average household income just under $41,000.  Employment and poverty are also significant issues in the Harambee neighborhood where the poverty rate was 33.1% in 2010. According to 2000 Census data, 31.4% of the population (25 years and older) in the 53212 zip code lacked a high school diploma or equivalency. This number climbed to 42.4% in the Harambee neighborhood. These numbers are much higher than those reported for the City of Milwaukee (25.2%) and the Metropolitan Statistical Area (15.5%).

Project Overview

DOI/VISTA Tracy Pollock is working with Groundwork Milwaukee in three primary areas. Tracy helps to build life and job skills for diverse youth (ages 9-17) and young adults (ages 18-25) by mentoring their Green Team members in their First Green Job program. She is also working to improve access to healthy foods and to healthy environments by supporting the Milwaukee Urban Gardens (MUG) Program Manager and mentoring young adults in Groundwork Milwaukie’s Urban Waters (Green Infrastructure) program. In addition, Tracy also assists in outreach through the River Ambassador program.

Sponsors and Partners

For more information please visit: