UWM Foundation shares message with community

UWM Foundation President David H. Gilbert shared an overview of the independent nonprofit organization’s operations and investments in a message distributed today.

You can read the message online here.

A Message from the UWM Foundation

Dear UWM Community,

As protestors gathered on the UWM campus in recent days, campus leadership shared with me your questions about how the UWM Foundation works, invests funds, and whether or not we have investments with weapons manufacturers. These are good questions, and we will do our best to answer them.

What We Do

For the last 50 years, the UWM Foundation has operated to support virtually every aspect of university life at UWM. We are an independent nonprofit organization to which donors can make charitable gifts to support student scholarships, faculty research, community projects and other efforts. In these 50 years, we have distributed approximately $375 million to support UWM students, faculty and staff.

The Source of Our Funding 

The Foundation receives philanthropic gifts from individuals, families, other nonprofit organizations, and the business sector. Donors have a range of options for designating their contributions including giving to specific academic programs, scholarship funds, or a university-wide fund that supports UWM.

How We Invest Donations 

Like other foundations, the UWM Foundation invests donations to help create long-lasting revenue to support UWM. The investments are part of a Foundation-managed investment portfolio. This $237 million portfolio includes the mutual funds that UWM referenced in recent campus-wide communications, but we want to provide additional information about the other types of holdings that we’ll explain in more detail here.

  • Bonds: Put simply, a bond is a loan taken out by the government or a company. The Foundation-managed investments include U.S. government, federal agency, industrial, financial, utility, and foreign bonds. None of the Foundation’s bond investments include weapons manufacturers or investments with governments in the Middle East.
  • Equity Mutual Funds: An equity mutual fund is a collection of professionally managed investments, mostly stocks. When investing in an equity mutual fund, the investor cannot select what stocks or other investments are included in the fund.
  • Fixed-Income Mutual Funds: A fixed-income mutual fund is a collection of investments in bonds and other fixed-income securities, like certificates of deposit (CDs) and Treasury bills.
  • Other Types of Cash and Investments: The Foundation-managed funds also include some angel investments aimed at helping grow small Wisconsin companies, as well as cash, cash equivalents and UWM facilities like Cambridge Commons.

The Impact of Our Investments 

In the last fiscal year, which was July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, the Foundation put $24 million into use at UWM. This includes the largest-ever investment in scholarships by providing $5.4 million to help students with tuition and living expenses. The University’s Office for Advancement and Chancellor Mark Mone in partnership with the Foundation raised $35.7 million in the same period, which is money that will help even more students, faculty, staff, and community members in the years to come.

Moving Forward Together

We are proud to support UWM and the Milwaukee community. By sharing more about what we do and how we do it, we hope that you will have increased confidence in the Foundation and see the real ways we are helping the UWM Community grow and thrive. We are proud to support the only public university in Wisconsin that is both an R1 and an access institution committed to opening the doors of higher education to anyone who chooses to pursue a degree.

With gratitude for the UWM community,

David H. Gilbert
UWM Foundation