The Milwaukee Portal was placed in the Amani neighborhood outside an urban ministry program, which provides GED preparation, financial literacy, a resident-led revitalization program and other resources. The Amani neighborhood, which is the most impoverished and distressed neighborhood in a city that is the most racially segregated in the nation. This zip code has the highest share of incarcerated black men in America and one of the highest rates of poverty in the city at 47.7%. By age 30-34 only 38% of men have not spent time in a correctional facility. But in the last several years, people say something has shifted. More residents are getting involved, while nonprofit and government agencies are collaborating. Homicides continue to be a concern, but data from the Milwaukee Police Department show overall crime dropping by double-digits over the last two years — even as much as 36% in one of the census tracts. Portals curators describe community engagement projects like Portals as an important part of this transformation.
One of the reasons why we put it on the toughest side of town is because we want to save the kids and give them something to do every day. Besides hang on the street corners and, uh, and, uh, get into it with gangs. We have a problem here in Milwaukee, it's so easy to get locked up. And then we got, uh, saying here. If know about Milwaukee, the saying is, "Come on vacation, leave on probation."
- Lewis Lee, Milwaukee Curator