Most of us say "thanks" without thinking.
Nov. 09--Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. said Thursday its charitable giving will total $16.9 million in the 2013 fiscal year, up $200,000 from 2012.
Through its foundation, the Milwaukee-based insurer will target most of the funds toward strengthening key nonprofit organizations in the Milwaukee area and on a pediatric cancer initiative.
John Kordsmeier, president of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, said the company's financial performance has allowed it to boost charitable giving in the new fiscal year, which started July 1. The dollar amount doesn't include the more than 21,000 hours collectively donated each year by about 1,000 employees who volunteer for community efforts, he said.
Locally, Northwestern Mutual's philanthropic focus will be on three main areas:
Supporting attractions and events that make Milwaukee a great visitor destination and place to live.
Increasing opportunities for academic success among children in distressed parts of Milwaukee.
Helping to make three neighborhoods in the city -- Amani, Metcalfe Park and Muskego Way -- healthier and safer places that also have access to quality education.
Kordsmeier said Northwestern Mutual has long-running sponsorship relationships with organizations like the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Milwaukee County Zoo and Summerfest that help strengthen the city's reputation "as a good place to live and work."
"We have a list about 15 different groups that we work with," he said.
The academic effort spans everything from early childhood programs to scholarships for students who otherwise couldn't afford college or technical training.
"This is really all about working with schools and nonprofits to make sure that our children in Milwaukee are learning and successfully growing in a way that prepares them for careers or trades or further schooling," Kordsmeier said.
With its neighborhood initiative, Northwestern Mutual is partnering with established service organizations that know the needs of specific area, he said.
"The whole idea is that there are strong providers of service in those neighborhoods that, if we can invest and focus our resources, we hope to be able to provide stable and safe neighborhoods for children and families," Kordsmeier said.
He added: "We don't decide what neighborhoods need. Neighborhoods decide what they need. They then develop neighborhood plans around that and we see how we can work with neighborhood organizations to collaborate on those needs."
The pediatric cancer effort was launched over the summer.
"Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under 15 in the U.S., yet research to cure childhood cancer is still vastly and consistently underfunded," Kordsmeier said.
As part of its pediatric cancer program, Northwestern Mutual is teaming up with Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation and Starlight Children's Foundation, two nonprofits focused on fighting childhood cancer and helping families of children who are battling the disease.
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