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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Milwaukee Community Sailing Center Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Sports, Swimming & Other Water Recreation

Mission: To promote sailing and to make Lake Michigan accessible to evreyone in the Milwaukee area through quality programs.

Results: In 2010 we opened a new educational building (with no debt) that allows us to expand our program offerings. We will host the 2013 US Disabled Sailing Championship.

Target demographics: Anyone in the greater Milwaukee area who wants to learn to sail.

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 150 adults to learn to sail, 350 to improve their skills, over 230 children took lessons and almost 600 disabled adults got to sail.

Geographic areas served: Greater Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Programs: Prams in the Park (ages 8-11), Youth Sailing (ages 9-17), Adult Sailing, Adpative Sail Program (for emotionally and physically disabled of all ages ). Our members actively help maintain the fleet, volunteering over 2,500 hours every year.

Community Stories

35 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Dick B.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This has to be one of the best bargains on the Great Lakes. The fleet of boats is extensive, basic courses taught in Pearson Ensigns, a wonderful, safe craft. Many courses available throughout the season to teach you how to sail safely at increasing levels of competence. The instructors are AWESOME! After you qualify to sail, use of the MCSC boats is open at no charge as part of the membership. Look online to see what commercial outfits charge to rent an Ensign for a half day - $250+? Everyone I've met there is friendly and helpful. If you ever thought you might want to sail, this is the place. Just Do It!

Client Served

Rating: 5

What a great opportunity to learn to sail! Staff is friendly and helpful and sailing classes were geared for everyone of all levels.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a huge fan of MCSC. In my years in Milwaukee I used the facility often, sailed the boats, stored a boat on the property, and participated in racing and other events regularly. I also taught as a sailing instructor for MCSC. It is, without a doubt, one of the finest organizations I know of. Every member of the staff is dedicated to making sailing accessible and fun for all. Unlike snotty yachty organizations, MCSC encourages people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to come, participate, learn and enjoy the wonderful sport of sailing on beautiful Lake Michigan.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I love sailing and the sailing community but can't afford the equipment. The club gives me amazing opportunities to learn and grow! Managed very professionally and with passion.

Client Served

Rating: 4

The Milwaukee Community Sailing Center and its amazing staff have been great to my daughter and myself as novice sailors. Their teen classes as well as adult beginner classes are well prepared and not only instructional but amazing fun. Having never sailed or been on the water before, getting hold of the tiller and steering through the moorings with skill drills was a great accomplishment and the support of the staff and the volunteers are second to none. My daughter is equally fond if not more of MCSC and we will continue to be members as long as we reside in this lovely town.


Board Member

Rating: 5

I was privileged to help start MCSC 35 years ago in order to bring sailing to the public so that a sport that had been unaffordable to most people due to the expense was made available to the average person and kids! The concept has worked so well that now there are over 150 such facilities in the US! Shared boating access is a great concept thanks to this enterprising and well run non profit. Proof is that it is still in business and thriving 35 years later! Plus we have a great adaptive program for the disabled group.

Bill Mosher


Rating: 5

I am a member since 2005 and sail almost every day (weather permitting) MCSC has brought immeasurable joy to my life. Last year I sailed 130 times--approximately 260 hours! I am so grateful for this community center and love to give sailboat rides to the disabled. Arlene Wisotzke



Rating: 5

What a terrific group of people! From sailing to cooking to gardening, there's something for everyone at the Sailing Center.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My beginner class was led by Tom, he is the best teacher I have ever had for any course, ever. I learned a lot and saw how he took care teaching each individual. I always feel welcome at MCSC - I am so excited to sail. Thank you!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Never sailed until two years ago. Now I can't get enough of it, due in large part to the MCSC. The classes are taught by enthusiastic, knowledgable volunteers, the staff is fantastic, and the facilities are awesome. The ease of signing out a boat and the ability to bring out guests at no additinal charge add to the experience. I've met a number of new friends through the Center as well. Truly an organization run by people who love to sail and are eager to promote the sport and to share their experience with others. Wish I'd have found the MCSC years ago.


Client Served

Rating: 5

Love this place. Well run. I can't believe I have gone from always wanting to sail, to be able to sail in one summer. Can't get over how much I learned. The enrichment programs are great for us loners whose spouses or kids have no interest, we get to race, or just do a nice sailing day and are assured of getting on the water. MCSC has made sailing accessible to many, from accessibility to affordability, as well as quality instruction from people who care about their members.



Rating: 5

A friend asked me to assist him in updating his resume back in 1991. At the very bottom of his page, under volunteer activities, he had written: Volunteer Board Member for the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center. When next I spoke with him, I asked him about that group. He told me about his work with the group. A non-profit community sailing center open to all adults and youth. People pay a low-cost annual membership fee, which gives them free access to a variety of boats for two hours at a time seven days a week, without needing to own their own boat. People can sail with others as crew, or pass sailing tests which allows them to be rated as a light, medium, or heavy wind skipper.

Classes are held year-round, both on water and on land. Classes are offered for all age groups, grade school through adults. Special classes and programs are held for people with disabilities, also.

All of this information prompted me to contact staff at the Milwaukee Community Center in May 1991, and after a brief conversation, I signed up for the next available beginners class. I was hooked.

Our class that year was known as the class that lucked out -- many classes on the water were cancelled due to stormy weather. Or no wind! Both banes of sailors.

Gratefully, our instructors offered make-up classes and make-up on water practices, and we all completed the classes satisfactorily and received our ranking as light sailors.

That summer of 1991 I was free enough to go sailing for the two allotted hours almost every single day. I spent three weeks as part of my doctoral studies in Seattle, Washington, and spent several of those days with friends who live in Seattle and own a sailboat. They invited me to sail with them several times, and offered me the privilege of skippering the boat on Puget Sound, on a gloriously sunny day in August of 1991.

Over the past 23 years, I advanced to medium rating, and have taken classes for heavy rating. Unfortunately, testing dates, weather, and my own schedule have not coincided for me to take that test. In the meantime, I have skippered boats with crew made up of family, of friends, of co-workers, and occasionally even of strangers, as part of the Spinniker Club.

My husband and I enjoy sailing together on lazy summer afternoons. We have enjoyed the Full Moon and Blue Moon cruises with other sailing center folks, those who own large sail boats and willingly donate the use of these boats to the Sailing Center for these special events. Our family has enjoyed participating in Sailing Center activities, too. One of our sons took part in the youth sailing classes when he was in high school and enjoyed it very much. One year, my mother and daughter and I spent a Fourth of July at a picnic sponsored by the Sailing Center, and then enjoyed an evening of fireworks while seated in a sailboat anchored in the harbor watching this spectacle over Lake Michigan, a very special time for all of us. Our extended family has gathered on the sailing center grounds on other Fourth of July occasions for picnics and fireworks.

Members of our family also volunteer at many of the events held at and/or by the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center, including some open houses, other special events, and for a number of years, at the Annual Lobster Boil.

All of these activities help invigorate current members, introduce new folks to the highlights of the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center, and most importantly of all, raises funds for important Sailing Center programs.

Two of the very best of these programs include those programs that focus on youth, offering classes and sailing opportunities for children who come from poor and disadvantaged families, often through neighborhood community groups, and those programs that provide a sailing experience for children and adults with significant disabilities of all sorts: cognitive, emotional, medical, and physical.

Sailing soothes our souls, provides a time for family enrichment, a time for sharing with long time friends, and an opportunity to meet new friends. Sailing offers a way, too, to connect with our environment is a manner that leaves a very small footprint on our ecosystem.

All this, because I asked what someone meant by his reference to his work as a Board Member almost 25 years ago.

I highly recommend the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center for this award.


Jacqueline Haessly
Member of and volunteer at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center since 1991


Rating: 5

When I was a young man of 58, I met a few MCSC sailors at a party. We talked.

The next day I signed up for a class at MCSC. That was July of 1996. Still sailing.

My life has become deeply enriched by fellow members, our staff, and of course, Lake Michigan.

MCSC's extensive community outreach programs, year-round educational opportunities, and sponsorships, have earned international respect and recognition.

With an exemplary staff and corps of volunteers, the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center continues to be a rich and deep fabric of our community.


Rating: 5

The Milwaukee Community Sailing Center provides the Milwaukee metropolitean region with access to day sailing and sailboat racing on Lake Michigan. Classes are available for youth and adults so a person doesn't need to be a sailor to participate. The MCSC provides events for disabled individuals. The staff are friendly and helpful. The MCSC provides e-mail updates as well as Facebook and Twitter links so that sailors can learn about events and the weather conditions.

I have served as a skipper providing sailboat rides to disabled individuals - rewarding experiences for all.

Carl Eisenberg

Guy C.


Rating: 5

The organization is inclusive and friendly. Whether introducing community members to Lake Michigan, teaching new sailors to sail, or providing opportunities for handicapped sailors to get out on the lake, everyone from volunteers to professional instructors to boatyard staff have a smile and something good to say to everyone. I feel like I belong.