Home Madison Urban League Celebrates 50 Years, Eyes Future

Urban League Celebrates 50 Years, Eyes Future


The Urban League of Greater Madison celebrated its 50th anniversary in style on Wednesday night on Madison’s south side.

Former ULGM CEO Chief Noble Wray mediated and led a panel discussion that took the audience in a filled room up and down the years and issues that Madison has faced and overcome throughout the five decades Urban League has been a leader in the community. The panel included longtime Board member Cora White and former ULGM CEOs Steve Braunginn and Kaleem Caire.

Over its five decades of service, the Urban League has transformed lives by providing workforce training and development as well as pathways to affordable housing. In Madison this work has been particularly vital to the communities of color that oftentimes didn’t have access to any other resources.

“We wanted to move from doing workshops to doing real training,” said Caire, who served as CEO from 2010-2015. “We had to let the mission lead the budget instead of the other way around. We had to create more things on top of what we were already doing. We sort of did things on a wish and a prayer”

Caire spoke about the way Urban League has allowed parents to develop connections through their resources that lead them to being able to provide more for their families which, in turn, leads to a stronger community.

Developing a strong workforce through grassroots donations and maximizing resources is what the past fifty years have been about for Urban League.

“If you don’t know who to follow, you’re just walking,” said Steve Braunginn, who led ULGM from 1998 – 2004 and served on the Board from 1991-1994. “Dr. Ruben Anthony is needing the community to buy into Urban League. They need more funding. We lost Oscar Mayer. Epic is asking for more skills than a lot of people have. We need funding for infrastructure. We cannot always depend on corporations. We have to ask people to roll up their sleeves, dig deep in their pockets and help out. Don’t stop giving. Keep on giving and volunteering. Urban League needs everyone who believes in this organization to give.”

Now, more than ever, Urban League CEO Ruben Anthony is calling on all within the sound of his voice to make sure that this is not the last milestone anniversary Urban League celebrates. He wants another 50 years.

Dr. Anthony wants to provide 1,500 jobs for 1,500 families. He is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. In 2018, Urban League is planning to make major progress on workplace programming and community partnerships that will reach the most people it ever has.

“Employment and training are our biggest commitments,” Dr. Anthony said. “We are looking to change the lives of 1,500 families. Exact Sciences and UW Health have been tremendous partners and we now have partnerships with every health organization in this city. We want to stretch out our partnerships. We will keep making sure families keep food on the table and the lights on in their homes.”

Dr. Anthony said Urban League is embarking on a fundraising campaign to raise $2 million by October of 2018 to help meet the 1,500 job goal and launch the next Urban League housing venture.

MG&E, Cuna Mutual and American Family Insurance have already donated $600,000 to Urban League towards the $2M goal and Urban League’s workplace training partnership with Exact Sciences is starting people off at $15 per hour for entry level positions.

“I’m really pleased with the turnout that we had tonight,” Dr. Anthony told Madison365 afterward. “We had people from several decades of Urban League. It means we’re going to have more decades. It means that we’re going to be able to put more people to work. We’re at 867 of the 1,500 job goal already. So we’re halfway there. We feel like we have strong partners. For every $2,000 we raise we’re able to put another family to work. We’re able to train people for jobs that are in demand. We’re excited about the impact we have on this city.”