Support the Society with a Grant

The Zoological Society of Milwaukee seeks support in the form of grants, defined as money gifted to the Society by individuals, foundations, or corporations. Grants help the Society fulfill our mission to conserve, educate, and support the Milwaukee County Zoo. Many of our grantors support the Society year after year, helping us continue to deliver our mission-based work.

Grants to the Society typically fall within one, or a combination, of these categories:

Education Programs
Conservation Programs
Capital Campaign Support
General Operating Support

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Make It Possible by Making a Grant

The best way to learn more about the Society’s grant program is to contact our grants manager at 414-918-6152. Our Development Department is available to meet with interested grantors to discuss how your philanthropic goals might align with the Society’s greatest needs. With a vast repertoire of conservation education programs, we’re certain we can identify the right fit for any grantor!

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Grant Funding for Education Programs

Our Conservation Education programs focus on School Programming, Community Programming, Career Development Programming, and Kohl’s Wild Theater Program. To ensure equitable access to our empathy-based and award-winning offerings for all, the Society partners with public schools and various local community organizations to target and reach thousands of historically underrepresented children, youth, and their families who otherwise may not have access to the Zoo due to financial and/or transportation limitations. Through our Access MKE Zoo initiative, grant funding to the Society’s Conservation Education Programs is allocated based on the greatest need.

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Through grant funding, historically underrepresented children, youth, and their families have barrier-free access to participate in empathy-based and inclusive life-science programs like:

School Programming

Animal Ambassador

This program fosters participants’ curiosity about wildlife and conservation through in-classroom visits and Zoo field trips, encouraging students to see themselves as “ambassadors” for the animals. Animal Ambassador Program emphasizes the global impact of local actions, and participants learn of their larger positive influence on imperiled species and ecosystems when individual actions are multiplied. Provided at 23 schools located in under-resourced neighborhoods across greater Milwaukee, this program reaches grades 2nd-4th up to four times annually and helps teachers meet their learning standards.

Zoo to You

Through a one-time classroom visit for grades K3-8th, one of our instructors delivers an interactive, standards-based lesson that includes animal biofacts for a personalized, hands-on experience. This curriculum supports the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards and Common Core State Standards for elementary and middle schools.

At Zoo Field Trips

Participants in grades K3-12 are provided an age-specific onsite tutorial at our Karen Peck Katz Conservation Education Center by one of our instructors and then explore the Zoo to hone their learnings. This offering supports teachers in their science instruction and adheres to the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards and Common Core State Standards for elementary through high school.

Community Programming

Summer Zoo Camps

We partner with local community centers to bring science and conservation education to under-served children at a nominal cost. As part of Access MKE Zoo, we also offer financial aid directly to individual families not affiliated with one of our community collaborators so their kids can also participate in partial-day, full-day, multi-day, and/or weeklong summer camps for a nominal cost.

Seasonal Programs

In the spring and fall, the Society offers ½-day and full-day interactive conservation education classes for school-aged children, teens and families during the week, on the weekends, and on school in-service days. Classes are held at our Karen Peck Katz Conservation Education Center and include interactive experiences on Zoo grounds. Families demonstrating economic need are charged a nominal cost to participate.

Big Brothers Big Sisters

We provide conservation education-based programming for mentoring matches (“Bigs and Littles”) of Big Brother Big Sisters with the goal of helping youth grow their understanding of the natural world in a safe and nurturing environment. Bigs and Littles are provided an opportunity to see the Zoo as a place to learn and discover ways they can work together toward stewardship of animals and the environment.

Career Development Programming

High School Intern Program

The Society provides extended career exploration for historically underrepresented youth through entry-level positions offered throughout the year. Opportunities include: assisting our education staff in classroom prep; providing support in our Accounting Department; assisting with marketing and communications projects; and offering administrative and fundraising support in our Development Department.

High School Volunteer Assistant Program

We provide an opportunity for disadvantaged high school students to engage as education volunteers interacting with Zoo guests and youth campers for three weeks during the summer. These High School Assistants receive free onsite training about Zoo operations, animals, and classroom and camp behavior management.

College Intern Program

The Society provides paid professional experience to college students every summer. Through this program, interns are mentored by our education staff, giving participants real-world experience in conservation education. For 10 weeks, interns assist instructors in classroom activities and summer camps, leading groups of children on Zoo tours. Throughout their time, interns work on developing leadership, goal-setting, problem-solving, positive communication and self-evaluation skills.

Career Days

The Society offers single-day events for underrepresented middle through high school students to learn more about job opportunities found at the Zoo. Ranging from food service, graphic design and marketing, to Zookeepers and veterinarian staff. Career Days provide a realistic way for our community’s young population to explore future careers and inspire them on their path toward sustainable employment.

Kohl’s Wild Theater Program (KWT)

KWT provides conservation-themed theater performances at the Zoo and around the community at schools, libraries, and community events. Our performers inspire audiences of all ages to learn and care more about our natural world using drama, songs and puppetry. KWT has served approximately 1.4 million audience members since the theater’s launch in 2011.

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If you are interested in making a grant to support the Zoological Society, please call 414‑918‑6152.

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