Article by Milwaukee Magazine: https://www.milwaukeemag.com/give-back-to-city-on-a-hill-this-season/
City on a Hill is part of Giveback MKE 2023, which features local organizations are doing great work in our city – and they need your support.
Three Milwaukee zip codes have some of the highest poverty rates in the country – 53233, 53208 and 53205. City on a Hill is working to alleviate childhood poverty in those neighborhoods.
“A lot of change we’re tackling involves generational trauma for families,” says Art Serna Jr., the organization’s CEO. “We talk about the stark reality that children remain the poorest age group in cities like Milwaukee.”
City on a Hill’s ultimate goal is to break the cycle of generational poverty. To reach that, the Christian organization provides health care and social services, youth and family programs, and spiritual formation and growth. It also offers educational programs for the public on compassion and racial justice.
“We’re not just clinical intervention but social and emotional,” says Serna. “If people don’t have hope, they’re not going to take the steps to change. What are the components of neighborhoods that are moving their residents up to a path of economic mobility? One of the components is the level of religiosity or belief in God or prayer in their lives.”
City on a Hill launched in 2001, taking over a former hospital on Kilbourn Avenue. It’s a fitting next chapter for the space, as the building dates back to 1863, when Lutheran deaconesses converted it into a medical facility for the poor, with volunteer nurses.
“The facility has enabled us to dream big. We have a lot of components within this campus,” says Serna. For example, partners like the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Health Department have hosted focus groups there over the years, with the shared goal of advocating for access to quality health care in underserved communities.
In 2024, City on a Hill will open a dental clinic, funded by a capital campaign. Donations are still needed to renovate the organization’s existing medical clinic. The organization is also planning to expand its “social enterprise” programs for young people, encouraging work in the food industry and construction trades alongside industry employers. It is also hoping to establish a more holistic case-management program across 10 neighborhoods by the end of next year.
“We also encourage people to give by giving their time. Their time is super important,” says Serna. This includes literacy tutoring, staffing the medical clinic and maintaining the facility and grounds.
What We Do
- City on a Hill’s goal is to break the cycle of poverty in some of Milwaukee’s poorest ZIP codes. It aims to reduce childhood poverty by 50% in the neighborhoods it serves by 2033.
- City on a Hill extends a range of health services: behavioral health care, medical outreach, telehealth, nursing triage and enhancing health literacy. It also delivers youth, family and spiritual formation programs. These include an after-school youth center, life skills and employment readiness initiatives, and faith-fostering activities aimed at spiritual and communal growth rooted in Christian values.
Where Your Money Goes
- Donor support grows the holistic programs that help families reach economic self-sufficiency and restore neighborhood health. Recent donations are helping build a new dental clinic and upgrade the current medical clinic.
- City on a Hill also relies on volunteers, who help with meal prep, youth mentoring, medical clinic assistance and more.