By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 09, 2021 at 5:01 AM

The Bucyrus Foundation, founded in the 1970s and since 2002, administered by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, announced $10 million in grants to South Milwaukee on Thursday morning.

The foundation is an offshoot of Bucyrus, which moved to South Milwaukee in 1891. After it was purchased by Caterpillar in 2011, the Bucyrus name was retired.

The grants will be made as a series of annual $1 million donations across the next 10 years and will be administered by the City of South Milwaukee and the South Milwaukee School District, which will receive $2 million of the total gift.

According to a release issued Thursday, the $10 million will fund:

  • Downtown South Milwaukee redevelopment, potentially laying a foundation for the creation of an entity focused on investments in property acquisition and rehabilitation, business attraction and retention, public improvements, marketing, events and other initiatives aimed at revitalizing South Milwaukee’s city center.
  • The South Milwaukee School District, with a focus on investments in athletics and STEM and manufacturing career education.
  • Public spaces and greenspaces, including initiatives to help fund city- and Milwaukee County-owned parks and other natural areas like Bucyrus Commons, the South Milwaukee War Memorial, Grant Park, the Oak Creek Watershed and other areas in the city.
  • A grant program for South Milwaukee nonprofit organizations, including South Milwaukee Human Concerns, a significant recipient of Bucyrus support prior to the sale of the company in 2011.

“Since we announced our gift for the Bucyrus Club and downtown public space in 2020, we have been looking for ‘what’s next,’” Bucyrus Foundation Chairman and former Bucyrus President Tim Sullivan said. “And we wanted ‘what’s next’ to be a lasting investment in the city we embraced for a century, and that embraced us. This is it.

“We couldn’t be more excited to step up in this way to help the residents, business owners, and students of South Milwaukee. South Milwaukee’s success was always our success, and we are proud to honor that legacy with this donation.”

In recent years, the foundation has donated $1.5 million for the construction of the Bucyrus Club & Event Center and Bucyrus Museum, which opened in the company’s former employee center in July.

It also donated a half-million dollars to a public space in downtown South Miwaukee called the Bucyrus Commons, and funded a community grant program, an economic development director for the city and a downtown revitalization grant program.

“This is a historic day in our city,” said South Milwaukee Mayor Erik Brooks. “These funds will have lasting impact across South Milwaukee and will further strengthen the legacy of this storied company in our city.

“We could not deliver South Milwaukee’s promising future without partners like Tim and the Bucyrus Foundation, and we can not thank them enough for their generosity. We are excited to start strategically investing these funds.”

Added South Milwaukee School Superintendent Jeff Weiss, “We are honored the foundation chose our local schools as one of the key recipients of this contribution.

“Tim and the foundation understand the importance of education to the future of South Milwaukee, the state and the country, and we share that commitment. We look forward to working with them to invest these funds and lift up our students, staff and community.”


Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.