Human Services

Children's Outing Association

Serving Children, Strengthening Families, Building Community

aka COA Youth & Family Centers

Milwaukee, WI


COA Youth & Family Centers helps Milwaukee children, teens, and families reach their greatest potential through a continuum of educational, recreational and social work programs offered through its two urban community centers and rural camp facility. As a multicultural agency, COA values diversity and cooperation, and promotes personal growth and positive social interaction.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Mr. Tom Schneider

Main Address

909 E North Ave

Milwaukee, WI 53212 USA


Children, teens, families, early childhood education, youth development, camp, conference center





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Neighborhood Center, Settlement House (P28)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Kindergarten, Nursery Schools, Preschool, Early Admissions (B21)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media


Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

While COA programs serve youth from across Milwaukee, the majority served live in the low-income Amani (zip code 53206), Riverwest, and Harambee neighborhoods (zip code 53212) surrounding COA's centers. 44.3% of households in Amani live below the federal poverty level. In Riverwest/Harambee, 43% of households live below the federal poverty level and overall, 41.7% of children in Milwaukee live in poverty. In addition to academic inequality, statistics show that youth living in poverty are more likely to be exposed to trauma resulting from residential instability, food insecurity, psychological and emotional abuse, and/or anger issues. These adverse childhood experiences impact child brain development and diminish the healthy foundation that is vital for youth to succeed long-term. COA aims to combat these issues by providing low-income youth and families in Milwaukee programs and resources that empower them to realize their full academic, economic, and civic potential.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Youth Development

Community Development

Early Child Development

Where we workNew!

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Number of students enrolled

Population(s) served

Infants to preschool (under age 5)

Related program

Early Child Development

Context notes

Number of children served by COA's Early Education Centers.

Number of youth receiving services (e.g., groups, skills and job training, etc.) with youths living in their community

Population(s) served

K-12 (5-19 years)

Related program

Youth Development

Context notes

Number of youth enrolled at COA's Youth Development programming at the Riverwest and Goldin Centers.

Number of convenings hosted by the organization

Population(s) served


Related program

Community Development

Context notes

COA hosts monthly Amani United neighborhood association meetings and Friends of Moody Park meetings.

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

In 2015, COA's leadership and board of directors completed a 5-year strategic vision. That plan outlined the goals for the organization from 2015-2020. Below are the main focuses of that strategic vision. Early Child Development: Grow early childhood development programs for children ages 0-5.

Youth Development: Deepen the quality and impact of existing youth development programming, including programs that enhance and support quality parenting for youth ages 6-18.

Community Development: Continue to selectively invest in community development that adds critically needed services in the communities the children and families COA serves live in. This includes partnering with and/or collaborating with other agencies that can provide needed services COA does not specialize in. The target neighborhoods in Milwaukee for community development efforts are Amani and Riverwest/Harambee.

COA was founded in 1906 by a dynamic group of women who sought to provide impoverished families the means to achieve self-sufficiency and raise healthy, productive, and successful children. Following the framework of Jane Adam's Hull House in Chicago, these women established Milwaukee's first Settlement House. Through this holistic model of community service, they provided an array of resources that empower families. For over 111 years, COA has continued to grow its continuum of services and resources. Today COA serves over 10,000 children and families annually through comprehensive, integrated, and family-centered programs offered at its Riverwest and Goldin Centers, Camp Helen Brachman in central Wisconsin, and through seven community learning centers located within Milwaukee Public Schools. COA's programming continuum is comprised of three core focus areas: early child development, youth development, and community development.

Early Child Development: COA's two Early Education Centers at Riverwest Center and Goldin Center are models for quality early education. In addition, COA serves children (ages 3-5) and their parents with at-home literacy and development support through the curriculum-based Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program. Equally important, COA's Family Resource Centers provide daily programming for parents and children including parenting classes, support groups, and family camp opportunities.

Youth Development: Through COA's asset-based approach, youth engage in developmentally-appropriate programs every day at COA's Riverwest and Goldin Centers. Youth receive after school and summer programming that focus on providing academic supports, increasing career-readiness, fostering self-development, and addressing risky behaviors. COA also impacts youth at Community Learning Centers with daily after-school programming at 7 Milwaukee Public Schools. In addition, each summer approximately 300 at-risk youth attend immersive camp sessions at COA's Camp Helen Brachman.

Community Development: COA Youth & Family Centers' youth, family, and community programming are at the center of our efforts to engage residents and revitalize economically distressed neighborhoods. COA's community development efforts in the Riverwest/Harambee neighborhood surrounding COA's Riverwest Center and the Amani neighborhood surrounding COA's Goldin Center are essential and integrated components of COA's overall comprehensive programming. Our goal is to bring critically needed services to the neighborhood to help families reach their greatest potential. In 2016, COA earned three Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation (MANDI Awards) for its innovative and transformational work engaging residents and revitalizing Milwaukee's Amani neighborhood. And COA's work in this area is currently being recognized nationally.

Founded in 1906, COA has over 111 years of programming experience and understands the unique challenges and complex dynamics involved in working with youth and families from disadvantaged backgrounds. COA is a trusted community resource and regularly seeks and is sought out for collaboration with other community organizations. COA's leadership team has over 180 years of combined experienced in community development, including youth and early education programming.

In addition, COA's programs are recognized locally and nationally for quality and excellence. COA's Riverwest Early Education Center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and also holds a five-star rating from YoungStar, the State's childcare rating program. The HIPPY program holds HIPPY USA's Certificate of Accreditation, which indicates that it meets all quality assurance standards and utilizes the same curriculum and implementation techniques as other national and international HIPPY programs. Finally, COA's Camp Helen Brachman is accredited by the American Camp Association. COA has achieved the highest four-star rating from Charity Navigator for the 12th consecutive year. Only 1% of all charities nationally have 12 consecutive 4-star ratings. COA is Wisconsin's highest rated children's and family service agency.

Early Child Development:
• Expand all programs for children birth to five by increasing access and participation in early education programs (HIPPY, Family Resource Centers, and Early Education Centers).
• Developmental improvements in communication, social/emotional, motor, literacy, cognitive, and behavioral skills for children in early education programming.
• Deepen engagement with parents in the Early Education Centers, HIPPY Program, and COA's Family Resource Centers.
Youth Development:
• Youth develop personal and social skills, such as increased self-esteem, self-confidence, understanding, and respect for others.
• Youth are exposed to ideas and concepts that develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.
• Youth receive academic support to help them stay engaged in school and achieve their highest academic potential.
• Youth are engaged with and feel connected to their family, peers, school, and community.
• Teens develop the skills needed for adulthood through goal setting, job skills, sex education, financial planning, and mentoring.
• Teens become leaders in their communities and within their peer groups by encouraging service to others, creative self-expression, and other forms of leadership development.
Community Development:
• City data show improved community outcomes relating to crime, health and child maltreatment.
• Strong, active network of partner agencies in Amani and Riverwest/Harambee that are working together to close resource gaps identified by the residents we serve.
• Using community development programs (e.g. Skyline, Moody Park) to recruit residents, and refer them to other COA programs or partnering agencies.
• Amani and Riverwest/Harambee become neighborhoods where families want to live and work.
• Increased civic engagement of residents, measured by their participation in neighborhood planning groups, utilizing the COA campus, and becoming involved in the political process.
• More resident-led outdoor activities take place in Moody and Kadish Parks which promote cultural arts and health and wellness.
• Support efforts to develop vacant and abandoned homes/lots, leading to fewer blighted properties and unsafe outdoor spaces.

Early Child Development
This year, the Riverwest EEC served 163 children and 85.5% displayed improved cognitive skills. COA's Riverwest EEC is one of only ten EECs in Milwaukee accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and also holds a five-star rating from the State's YoungStar childcare rating program. In 2015, COA opened a second early education center at its Goldin Center. This doubled our capacity to serve children during an important developmental phase and brought service to a community where no other quality early learning services existed. 194 children are enrolled, which nearly doubles last year's enrollment total. This year, 295 children (ages 3-5) and their parent(s) participated in HIPPY's 30-week in home curriculum. 100% of parents were actively participating in multiple literacy building activities with their children. 95.3% of children demonstrated improvement in literacy skills and 94% displayed improvement in cognitive skills. 96% of parents reported they had learned more caregiver/parenting skills as a result of HIPPY.This year, FRCs experienced over 13,000 visits from Milwaukee children and families.
Youth Development
Last year, 1,032 at-risk youth benefited from the positive after school and summer programming offered at COA's Riverwest and Goldin centers, along with another 1,615 youth through COA's Community Learning Centers at seven Milwaukee Public Schools. Last year, nearly 93% of these children and teenagers reported that COA encouraged them to set goals and make plans for the future. And 95% displayed an improved belief in the importance of doing well in school. This year, 98% of campers received a scholarship to attend camp. In addition, youth attended Youth Leadership Institutes and winter camp, and youth and parents from our after school and summer programs participated in Family Camps. So far in 2017, 70 families have participated in Family Camps. For many of the low-income families COA serves, these camps represent the only chance for a quality family vacation.
Community Development
This year more than 9,000 people attended COA's Skyline Music series at COA's Selig-Joseph-Folz Amphitheater in Kadish Park. Our established youth programming, together with the pediatric and family clinic, our family resource center, new early child education center, the new Moody Park (adjacent to the Goldin Center), and the new Amani United neighborhood association are all working together to create new resources and hope for this distressed neighborhood. Resident engagement in Amani has vastly increased, with community nights held at the Goldin Center and Moody Park attract 200-550 attendees. A quarterly newsletter, Amani United, is distributed door to door in the neighborhood to notify residents of upcoming events and community happenings, creating a more informed, cohesive, and involved community. In the last four years, the crime rate in Amani has dropped 26.36%. And during the firs

External Reviews

Awards & Accreditations

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) - 3 Year Accreditation

American Camping Association (ACA) - Accreditation


Children's Outing Association

Fiscal year: Apr 01 - Mar 31

Need more info on this nonprofit?

Need more info on this nonprofit?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2017
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to view a Sample Report.


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2017
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?