Marquette Wire

Key to Change collects funds for homeless

A+student+dropping+a+coin+in+the+new+Key+to+Change+collection+meters.+Proceeds+go+to+helping+Milwaukee%27s+homeless.
A student dropping a coin in the new Key to Change collection meters. Proceeds go to helping Milwaukee's homeless.

A student dropping a coin in the new Key to Change collection meters. Proceeds go to helping Milwaukee's homeless.

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

A student dropping a coin in the new Key to Change collection meters. Proceeds go to helping Milwaukee's homeless.

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Key to Change, a program that collects funds to help Milwaukee’s homeless population, installed seven meters around the city over the summer for people to donate their spare change. One of those meters, shaped like a key, is outside of the Starbucks on Marquette’s campus.

Officer Gary Bray of MUPD worked with the organization and Marquette to bring one of these meters to campus. Bray and the MUPD homeless outreach team are dedicated to projects like Key to Change, which is led by Milwaukee Downtown Business Improvement District #21.

The meters provide an alternative to giving money to homeless people on the street, Bray said.

“Instead of giving someone on the street a handout, students can use these Key to Change meters because (the donations) are for sure going straight to cause. Key to Change will help with long term (effects) and looks at the big picture,” Bray said.

Bray and the MUPD Homeless Outreach Team are dedicated to working with groups like Key to Change so that MUPD and the Marquette community can make an impact in the lives of those who most need it.

Key to Change donates their gathered funds mainly to the Milwaukee County Housing Division’s Housing First project.

“Their philosophy is to get homeless people housing first, and then get them a job or other services that they need,” Officer Bray said. “A lot of these people need somewhere to go home to before they can start to make those other improvements to their lives.”

All seven Key to Change meters are located on Wisconsin Avenue, as Marquette was considered a prime location by Key to Change.

“Marquette University and our organization collaborate on a variety of issues and ending chronic homelessness happens to be one of them. We thought it would be good to have one meter on Wisconsin Avenue near the campus,” Beth Weirick, CEO of Key to Change, said.

Meters are located in areas and attractions that guests frequent the most. The need to increase awareness in the community was also taken into consideration.

“The location between 16th and 17th Streets along Wisconsin Avenue met the Key to Change criteria to have meters positioned in high-visible areas near restaurants, stores and attractions where guests frequent most, and in areas with high concentration of employees and residents,” Rana Altenburg, Marquette’s vice president of public affairs, said. “It’s one way we can support our community in its effort to end chronic homelessness.”

The university and MUPD are optimistic that the meters are effective tools that will give people who care about the issue a way to act by making a donation or getting involved. Officer Bray said the meters are shaped like keys to represent the keys of homes.

Donations to Key to Change can also be made online, and Bray said there is talk of getting credit card readers for the meters in the future.

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg
The new Key to Change donation meter on campus.

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