Whether it be a mural, mosaic, music, poetry, or dance; creative expression comes in many forms. We’re challenging neighborhoods to discover and creatively express what JOY means to their community.
The Joy Engine Community Challenge provides small grants to fuel creative expressions of joy within our diverse Milwaukee community. Applications are accepted for projects to improve public spaces and civic engagement, support diversity, equity and inclusion; and pursue innovative ideas that support your neighborhood.
True Skool is a youth organization that empowers students through transformative creative arts and hip hop culture. They’ll partner with the Historic King Drive BID to work with emerging and established artists to create unique artworks infused with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, images, and teachings to display throughout the BID in celebration of Dr. King’s 95th birthday.
The Middle Ground is a community organization whose mission is to engage youth, families, and communities to break the poverty mindset and reduce violence and unemployment. To showcase joy, the group will enhance Antoine’s Garden, a double-wide city lot located on 39th Street, by building an arts pavilion for events, decorated garden beds and bird boxes, and a water system. The space will be used for intergenerational programming, community chess games, healthy living workshops, and other events.
The Harbor District BID, which leads the revitalization of Milwaukee’s harbor district, will highlight the area’s rich history by partnering with historians, community members, and organizations to host a five-day Indigenous History celebration in June 2024. The event will include water and walking tours, a fashion show, featured work by local indigenous artist Sabrina Lombardo of Native Nation Designs, and other programming showcasing both land and waterways.
Cosecha Creative Space is a collective focused on building cultural and human connections through art. The members seek to use the grant funds to create “La Marquesina: Comida, Cultura y Cariño/La Marquesina: Food, Culture and Joy,” a temporary installation of a “marquesina,” a makeshift space used for parties in Puerto Rican culture. The group plans to showcase the structure along with programming that resonates with the essence of Puerto Rico, including a domino tournament, a new mural depicting the island’s history, and a community dinner complete with music and dance.
Entrepreneur and owner of the Milwaukee Makers Market, Ryan Laessig, is gearing up to produce the first-ever Milwaukee Makers Market Festival in July 2024. The fest will showcase art, music, small business and all forms of Milwaukee talent, rather than a traditional festival focused on eating and drinking. The market will feature local art and music, along with designers, painters, bakers, jewelers, soap and candle makers, Milwaukee merchandise vendors, and more.
Throw with the Flow, led by yoga and mindfulness practitioner Haley Furh, will create 2-hour workshops incorporating yoga, meditation, art-making, and reflection. The workshops will include a warm welcome followed by a playful yoga practice that focuses on releasing expectations and rediscovering joy and play and a body mapping exercise that uses symbols, images, and colors to depict emotions, as well as group interaction.
Angela Laughinghart of YMAA Tai Chi, a branch of Yang’s Martial Arts Association International, will hold an event for World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, the last Saturday in April. Besides being healing and relaxing, Tai Chi is a creative art favoring individual expression while strengthening the mind, body, and spirit. The practice includes body movements and hand motions, all while coordinating with your breath. “One World, One Breath” is one of the themes of the event.
Lion’s Tooth is a bookstore and art space supporting local artists and authors in the Bay View neighborhood. Owners Cris Siqueira and Shelly McClone-Carriere will host a series of comic labs at the shop. The “Comics Lab” invites first-time comic artists, experienced artists, and zine makers to attend its Sunday classes from 2-4:30 p.m., which will feature a guest lecturer and time for a hands-on session with live DJ performances.
We can’t wait to see their projects come to life across a diverse array of Milwaukee neighborhoods in 2024. Stay tuned for updates!
Grant Recipient Eligibility
Your project must:
- Take place in the neighborhood in which you live or work
- Be publicly accessible without admission or entrance fees
- Include documentation both during the process and of your completed project (i.e. photos and/or video, written materials, flyers)
- Be in the City of Milwaukee
This application is open to the following:
- Artists working in visual, performing arts or creative placemaking (individuals must partner with a lead organization)
- Students, student organizations (if under 18 must partner with a
lead organizer or your school)
- Government entities, neighborhood associations or neighborhood improvement districts, schools, cultural centers, community organizations
- 501(C)(3), 501(C)(4), and 501(C)(6) nonprofits
- Other types of artists and organizations will be considered on a
The following projects are NOT eligible for funding:
- Partisan, political or election-related activities
- Planning activities and assessments and surveys of communities without tangible engagement
- Studies with no follow-up action
- Publication of books or reports
- Acquisition of land and/or buildings or a vehicle purchase
- Sponsorship of other organizations’ events or activities
- Research and development for a nonprofit endeavor
- Research and development for a for-profit endeavor
- The promotion of a for-profit entity and/or its products and services
Joy Engine is looking for projects that engage the arts, are inclusive, mobilize volunteers, and aim to create JOY in your community. We encourage applicants to creatively explore ideas that improve open spaces or design innovative and tangible projects that increase neighborhood pride and facilitate a greater sense of inclusion.
Joy Engine Community Challenge can be used for:
- Permanent physical improvements in the community
- Temporary demonstrations, art installations and performances
- New, innovative programming, events or services
The project types described above will be prioritized over those that support ongoing programming or events.
Five Grants with a maximum of $10,000 each will be awarded.
Applicants who receive one year of funding may be eligible for additional grant dollars for year two, however, there is a match requirement with a separate application process. Please email Steph at email@example.com for information.
Applicants can apply for the same grant two years in a row but must take the third year off.
Grant Selection Process:
- Inspirational (50 points): The project reflects what represents JOY to you and your community.
- Execution (30 points): Applicants demonstrate the capacity to deliver the JOY project on time and within the awarded budget, effectively engaging residents and key stakeholders and leveraging volunteers in the execution.
- Inventive (20 points): The project demonstrates creativity, unique design or engagement elements that will contribute to its impact on community.
Application & Notification
- Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements.
- The deadline for applications is Wednesday, November 1, 2023.
- No late or incomplete applications will be accepted.
Grant recipients and unselected applicants will be notified by email no later than November 20, 2023. Grantees must execute and email a binding Memorandum of Understanding after acceptance. If chosen, your project must be completed by December 31, 2024. Noncompliance with this deadline may result in disqualification or delayed funding.
*If your project is located within a public space, Joy Engine will facilitate the connection between the applicants and the City of Milwaukee for any permits and/or liability insurance required.
Submission Terms & Conditions
If you submit this application, you agree on behalf of yourself and your organization to release Joy Engine Inc and its affiliates and their respective officers, directors, employees, contractors, agents and representatives from all liability associated with sharing the Project Information with potential funders.
By applying to Joy Engine, the applicant agrees that:
- The decisions of Joy Engine regarding the eligibility of applicants and the validity of entries shall be final and binding.
- All submissions will be judged by Joy Engine, whose decisions and determinations as to the administration of the award and selection of award recipients are final.
- Joy Engine has the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, or suspend the award.
- All projects and applications shall not violate any third-party rights.
- Except where prohibited by law, participation in the Joy Engine Community Challenge constitutes the Applicant’s consent to Joy Engine’s use of the organization’s or artist’s name(s), logos, city, state, zip code, county, and names, likenesses, photographs, videos, images, and statements made or provided by the Applicant’s representatives regarding the award for promotional purposes in any media without further permission, consent, payment or other consideration.
- All promotional materials (such as newsletters, press releases), events and signage related to the funded project will include a statement indicating that support was received from Joy Engine.
- The grantee is required to capture photos of the project and is encouraged to capture video. As the grantee captures photos and video of the project, if an identifiable individual appears in the photos and/or videos, the grantee is responsible for having him/her sign the Joy Engine General Release (this document will be provided to grantees with the MOU and other required paperwork). In addition, the grantee should not include any element in photos or videos provided to Joy Engine that may violate third party rights such as artwork and trademarks in text and logo other than those owned by the organization and Joy Engine. The organization should be prepared to send work in progress photos to Joy Engine upon request. Following the grant period, grantees are required to respond to periodic requests for updates from Joy Engine.
- Joy Engine and its affiliated organizations, subsidiaries, agents and employees are not responsible for late, lost, illegible, incomplete, stolen, misdirected, illegitimate, or impermissible submissions or any other error whether human, mechanical or electronic.
- Applicant understands that there is no guarantee that proper permitting will be issued if the project is taking place in a public space, however, Joy Engine will work to facilitate that process.
Questions? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supported in part by the Bosley & Green Foundation
2023 Grant Recipient Projects
Congratulations to our 2023 grant recipients for spreading joy in their communities through these incredible projects.
Gothic Milwaukee: Brady Street and Lower Eastside Walking Tour
Gothic Milwaukee, a historical attraction led by author and creator of the Walking Milwaukee tour, Anna Lardinois, created a self-guided, GPS-based audio tour of Brady Street and the Lower Eastside in celebration of Milwaukee on 414 Day (April 14, 2023). The 2.8-mile tour gives a glimpse into the past while highlighting the history and architecture of the Brady Street neighborhood.
The tour covers an easy stroll through Historic Brady Street, loops through Cass Street, follows along the former Gold Coast and ends at the Oak Leaf Trail Head on Prospect Avenue, featuring favorite MKE staples including:
- St. Hedwig
- All Saints Catholic Church
- Peter Scortino Bakery
- Glorioso’s Italian Market
- St. Rita
- Cass Park
- The Laverne and Shirley House
- The Laura and George Peckham Miller House
- Jewish Museum Milwaukee
- The Mexican Consultate
- And more!
We’re proud that our Community Challenge Grant has allowed Gothic Milwaukee to make this tour FREE for the public to enjoy for a year! To access the tour:
1. Download the free VoiceMap app from the App Store.
2. Create a free account.
3. Select the “Brady Street and Milwaukee’s Lower Eastside” tour.
4. Head to the corner of Brady and Cambridge Streets to start the tour, which can be completed at your own pace.
Out There Series: Outdoor Summer Music Shows
Out There Series, Milwaukee’s experimental performance series curating strange sounds in unique places, developed a series of free, live musical performances for all ages that took place in Milwaukee’s outdoor spaces in summer 2023.
The performances featured a variety of genres and sounds including soft R&B, jazz, ambient and experimental music, and even a professional marimba player, allowing attendees to experience exciting, “out there” types of music, sound combinations, or artists they wouldn’t normally hear. Some of the artists are local, and others are from around the Midwest.
RiverWestRadio: Alleyway Studio Series
RiverWestRadio, which provides a community platform for education, advocacy, and creativity and an outlet for marginalized and alternative voices, has used their grant to create an Alleyway Studio Series that took place monthly in summer 2024.
Each event started with a Chalk ‘n’ Talk, where community members created art in the alley at 816 E Center Street, followed by a live alleyway performance such as music, theater, comedy, poetry, or a lecture.
Check out incredible video footage from RiverWestRadio’s projects below:
The RiverWest Alleyway Studio
Alleyway Activation 2022-2023
Alleyway Activation – Pedal Parade
Chalk ‘n’ Talk Promotional Video
Chalk ‘n’ Talk Mini Documentary
BloomMKE: Cherry Street Garden Art Walk
BloomMKE, an organization promoting community enrichment for residents of low-income and public housing in Milwaukee by using community gardens as resources for engagement, education, and relationship building, used their Community Challenge grant to create a new Art Walk at Cherry Street Community Garden located at 1431 N. 23rd Street.
The art walk features a self-guided tour of the garden, highlighting more than a dozen pieces of original art, sculpture, and a centerpiece mural created by students at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) School of Architecture and Urban Studies.
Visit the garden any time to enjoy the self-guided tour.
La Familia de Arte: Community Mosaic Celebration
La Familia de Arte, a grassroots organization dedicated to creating meaningful change in the Milwaukee area through collaborative, community-based projects and public artwork for all, created five tiled, concrete bollards on the hill just north of Mitchell Street. The bollards, which are decorated with tiles inscribed by the neighbors of Muskego Way with words about what brings them joy, serve as a beautiful point of art and also as a safety barrier.
Homeworks: Bronzeville SPLASH!: Community Game Show
Homeworks: Bronzeville, a cultural development initiative that supports growth and activity in the community, created SPLASH!, a community-based variety show that explores culture in Milwaukee. The artmaking game show welcomed the community to come participate as contestants, paint with water balloons, dance to music by KLASSIK. The entire process was documented via video.