The Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Gifts to the Community program returns in 2016 with a special, one-day opportunity to explore four signature lakefront destinations for free.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, all visitors to Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Discovery World, Milwaukee Art Museum and the Port Washington Historical Society’s Port Exploreum and 1860 Light Station will receive free admission. The Foundation’s Gifts to the Community are being presented this year in partnership with Fund for Lake Michigan.

“Our great lake is among our region’s most unique resources, but not everyone in our community has the same opportunity to access its shoreline and the fabulous organizations located there,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “As we saw last year, philanthropy can eliminate barriers to provide an inclusive and welcoming experience that unites families and neighbors for a stronger community.”

Launched in celebration of the Foundation’s centennial in 2015, Gifts to the Community aimed to provide special opportunities connecting greater Milwaukeeans while showcasing some of the region’s most positive characteristics. Last year, 275,000 people directly participated in 12 surprise gifts that engaged 25 different partner organizations.

“We’re just thrilled to partner with GMF to help showcase these signature institutions along our beautiful lakefront,” said Vicki Elkin, executive director of Fund for Lake Michigan. “Sometimes we forget that not everyone has visited these sites before. It should be a memorable day, and we hope guests make many return visits to enjoy all the wonderful opportunities our lakefront has to offer.”

Details about the 2016 Gifts to the Community free access day, including destination information and program notes, are available at

Port Exploreum, 118 N. Franklin St., will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the 1860 Light Station, 311 Johnson St., will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Both are in Port Washington, Wis.

“This partnership with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation provides the Port Washington Historical Society a unique opportunity to reach out beyond our community to share with southeastern Wisconsin the history of not only our city, but also the stories of our community and its people,” said Wayne Chrusciel, executive director of the Port Washington Historical Society.

Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Drive, Milwaukee, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We are grateful for our continued partnership with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation,” said Praveen Krishnamurti, Milwaukee Art Museum’s chief experience officer. “This important gift allows us to open our doors to the community and to provide increased access. We hope Milwaukeeans take advantage of this opportunity to visit and explore our galleries, as art is a vital source of inspiration and education.”

Discovery World, 500 N. Harbor Drive, Milwaukee, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Discovery World is honored to be included in this very special day for the community,” said Discovery World president & CEO Joel Brennan. “Thanks to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation for allowing people and families to spend quality time together in some of Milwaukee’s amazing cultural institutions. Events like this can make the fabric of families stronger, and it makes us a stronger community.”

Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, 929 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Access to enrichment opportunities like those offered at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum is key to a child’s heathy development and school readiness,” said Fern Shupeck, the Museum’s executive director. “We are honored to be selected by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation to participate in the Gifts to the Community program. Thanks to the Foundation, families can explore our hands-on exhibits; learn more about the free parenting education, membership and transportation assistance programs we offer for families that are struggling to raise a young child; and experience our Be A Maker communal workshop through activities that promote literacy, and science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM), helping children build important skills that will last a lifetime.”

About Fund for Lake Michigan

The Fund for Lake Michigan, a donor advised fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, was established in 2011 as part of an agreement between We Energies, Madison Gas and Electric, WPPI Energy, Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club to safeguard the lake and improve water quality in the region. The Fund has awarded more than $15 million in grants over the past five years to restore habitat, improve beaches, clean up rivers and streams, and revitalize waterfronts in the Milwaukee Area.

About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation

For more than a century, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has helped individuals, families and organizations realize their philanthropic goals and make a difference in the community, during their lifetimes and for future generations. The Foundation consists of more than 1,200 individual charitable funds, each created by donors to serve the charitable causes of their choice. The Foundation also deploys both human and financial resources to address the most critical needs of the community and ensure the vitality of the region. Established in 1915, the Foundation was one of the first community foundations in the world and is now among the largest.