By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Nov 05, 2008 at 5:05 PM

FUEL Milwaukee, an economic development initiative of the Metropolitan Milwaukee  Association of Commerce, is launching its new Adopt-a-Nonprofit program on Thursday, with the help of native Milwaukee actress Jane Kaczmarek.

The event, called "Raising the Bar," kicks off at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts at 5 p.m.

Adopt-a-Nonprofit is a volunteer program designed to connect fresh-eyed professionals to the nonprofit organizations that need them.

FUEL selected eight nonprofit organizations to work with in the program's first year:

• Centro Legal
• IndependenceFirst
• Junior Achievement
• Literacy Services of WI
• MargaretAnn's Place
• The Park People
• PEARLS for Teen Girls
• Present Music

FUEL is also launching its new, more interactive Web site at, allowing its 6,000 members to create profiles, propose community actions and meet-ups, publish blogs, join work groups, connect to employers, share files and accept volunteer opportunities. is a founding member of FUEL.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”