Baker Tilly Wishes Grants Boost the Efforts of Not-for-Profits Hope Street and Circles Salt Lake

Mar 1, 2024 10:45 AM ET

Each year, the Baker Tilly Foundation provides grants of $10,000 to not-for-profits nominated by Baker Tilly team members. Learn more about two organizations that received Baker Tilly Wishes grants this year.

A greenhouse for Milwaukeeans 

Situated on a busy thoroughfare on the north side of Milwaukee is Hope Street, a sanctuary for those struggling with addiction and homelessness. The organization fulfills its mission of being a “greenhouse” for people by providing subsidized housing, fellowship and education. To better serve its residents and the surrounding neighborhood, Hope Street also operates Shechem, a pay-what-you-can community center offering a gym, café, classrooms and more.

Jackie Magennis, Baker Tilly Vantagen account specialist, prepares homemade meals and leads educational programs for Hope Street residents each week.

“Whenever I enter Hope Street, a sense of calm and togetherness washes over me,” Jackie said. “Because of how often I visit, I see the residents as family.”

Jackie has witnessed how a safe place like Hope Street can be transformative. While attending the funeral of one of Hope Street’s previous residents, a family member shared with Jackie a message of gratitude.

“Her words were, ‘Hope Street saved my son,’” Jackie said. “She thanked me and explained how Hope Street helped her son rekindle their relationship.”

The $10,000 Baker Tilly Wishes grant will add to Hope Street’s Acorn Fund, which helps cover membership fees for its residents.

Ending the poverty cycle in Salt Lake County

Marketing Associate Sidney Bruner’s advice for finding new places to volunteer? Google it.

That’s how she found Circles Salt Lake, a community-funded initiative to help families achieve financial stability. After volunteering as a tutor and Special Olympics swim coach in Columbus, Ohio, Sidney moved to Salt Lake City and sought a new avenue to pursue her passion for stewardship. Circles Salt Lake was exactly what she was looking for.

"I love connecting with our community – we have a weekly dinner where we share what’s new and good in our lives. It’s such a positive and welcoming experience,” Sidney said.

A holistic approach for families

Circles’ approach to helping families lift themselves out of poverty starts with building social capital. Each participant is paired with an ally that provides them with access to networks, resources and opportunities. Mentorship, courses on financial literacy, and connections to resources like transportation, healthcare and job opportunities are offered to parents, while children learn about emotional intelligence, goal setting, communication, art and science.

As a youth programming volunteer, Sidney enjoys watching children flourish through weekly activities.

"My favorite moment was when we had a snowball fight with rolled-up socks in the classroom – everyone was laughing and having fun,” Sidney said. “Laughter is a huge part of childhood, and I’m glad I can add joy to these kids’ lives.”

The $10,000 grant will help the organization expand its reach further across Salt Lake County.

Find the full list of recipients here.