After a successful pilot program in 2019, the Co:Lab “civic accelerator” officially launched earlier this year, giving Milwaukee’s young professionals an opportunity to work together to make positive change in their city.

This year’s cohort worked with three Milwaukee neighborhoods—Lindsay Heights, Clarke Square and Riverwest/Harambee—to create entrepreneurial solutions for real community issues. The plans were pitched virtually via the Co:Lab website at the end of April, giving the larger community an opportunity to vote for their favorite.

The winning project, InterNATIONAL Avenue, is a plan to help the Clarke Square neighborhood celebrate and capitalize on its vibrant cultural heritage through a variety of art projects along National Avenue. The project will receive $5,000 from Co:Lab to help fund its implementation.

The two other projects pitched were:

  • The Lindsay Heights Painting Project, which aims to build community awareness and create intentional “stickiness” through colorful streetscape art painted by local artists and community members throughout Lindsay Heights, a neighborhood people often pass through without noticing.
  • Vibe Together, a plan to turn the Vibe coworking space into an inclusive “bridge” space for members of the surrounding Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods to foster relationships and build a diverse ecosystem for growth.

Co:Lab is the result of a partnership between the Commons, NEWaukee and Startup Milwaukee.

The Commons is a program designed to attract, develop and retain the most talented and motivated minds in Wisconsin by bringing student entrepreneurs together with professional mentors to provide experience in solving real-world problems in their communities. Started by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the program has since expanded to Madison as well, thanks to StartingBlock Madison.

NEWaukee is a ‘social architecture’ firm specializing in events that connect Milwaukee’s professionals to each other, their city and area companies seeking talent.

Startup Milwaukee provides entrepreneurs in southeastern Wisconsin with access to mentorship, capital, talent and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs in order to help them launch and scale their companies.