Community Impact

A gift to UPAF touches the lives of many – the 100,000 children receiving arts education programming through UPAF Bright Minds, the individuals and families that experience the arts right in their neighborhoods through UPAF Connect, the artists that share their talent both on stage and backstage, and the patrons that enjoy a common experience in real time.

A vibrant, lively performing arts culture has a serious impact on the health of the community. UPAF works to expand the reach of the arts outside the theaters through two outreach programs: UPAF Bright Minds, presented by BMO Harris Bank and UPAF Connect, presented by Brico Fund.

Collectively, UPAF’s 14 Member Groups impact the lives of thousands of children – many of them underserved – by delivering quality arts education in the classroom, through after-school programs and with scholarships.

All dollars raised through the affinity program UPAF Notable Women are annually awarded through UPAF Bright Minds, presented by BMO Harris Bank, in support of this arts education programming.

The funded programs focus on influencing student abilities like teamwork, problem solving and leadership – qualities identified as most important to workforce success by key community leaders.

UPAF’s Member Groups lead the nation in innovative and proven arts education programs, including:

  • First Stage Theater Academy, the nation’s largest theater training program for young people
  • Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Arts in Community Education (ACE) program, which trains teachers to use the arts and music as tools for teaching core subjects
  • Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap, teaching life skills by integrating dance classes into regular school curriculum for more than 2,500 local students

For a full list of funded arts education programs and more information, please view our Impact Report.



UPAF Bright Minds Sponsors

Berghammer Construction Korb & Associates National Exchange Bank
BMO Harris Bank KPMG Reiman Foundation
Continental Properties KS Energy Services Zilber
Johnson Controls, Inc. Mark Travel Corporation



The performing arts have the power to enlighten, engage and bring people together.  Seeing the need to unite communities in Greater Milwaukee around the power of performance, UPAF launched UPAF Connect in 2016.

UPAF works with local nonprofits to connect world-class performing arts experiences with those who may not otherwise have access to these cultural assets.  UPAF strongly believes that everyone in the community should have the chance to embrace the magic of music, dance and theater.

UPAF Connect makes the performing arts more accessible to Milwaukee-area nonprofits by bringing new audiences to UPAF Member Group productions and taking the performing arts out into communities.  Dozens of activities scheduled in 2017-18 brought the arts to hundreds of new faces at our nonprofit partners.

Current UPAF Connect partners include:

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee

Boys and Girls Clubs

Clean Wisconsin

COA Youth and Family Centers

Cristo Rey Jesuit Academy

Dominican Center

Havenwoods Economic Development Corporation

La Casa de Esperanza

Life Navigators

Meta House

Milwaukee Water Commons

Neighborhood House

PEARLS for Teen Girls

Penfield Children’s Center

Silver Spring Neighborhood Center

Sojourner Family Peace Center

St. Augustine Preparatory Academy

The Women’s Center

United Community Center

Unity in Motion

Wisconsin Voices

In addition to Brico Fund, UPAF Connect is made possible with the support of:

Johnson Controls

Bader Philanthropies

Badger Meter


Catalyst Construction




Michael Best & Friedrich

Northwestern Mutual

Pat Dunphy

Riley Construction

Rockwell Automation

Tony & Andrea Bryant

Complete Office of Wisconsin

Dr. Ann Merkow

Town Bank

Wells Fargo

Additional support from:

American Transmission Company

First Business Bank

Gary Katz Foundation and Westbury Bank.

And members of Next Generation UPAF, a donor affinity program made up of local emerging leaders.

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