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Mission & History

Our Mission

To provide individuals and families with advocacy and services to meet their basic needs so they may live in dignity.

Our History

Community Advocates Inc. is committed to ensuring that low-income families and individuals in Milwaukee are able to meet their basic needs. We are one of the few remaining community-based organizations welcoming walk-in clients five days a week. 

In 1976, Ramon Wagner -- formerly a priest in the Catholic Church -- and two volunteers opened the doors of Community Advocates in a small storefront on Milwaukee’s north side. Their hope was to provide basic life-sustaining services for Milwaukee’s neediest individuals and their families until they could move forward on their own. 

This was the vision and passion that Wagner, the agency’s founder and longtime Executive Director, brought to his work until his death in 2005. He left behind an organization with tremendous heart, and it is in his spirit of service that the agency continues to move forward.

Since 2005, Community Advocates has grown from a staff of approximately 30 to a staff of more than 170. The budget has grown from $4 million to $20 million in 2021. The headquarters has moved from a small, ill-equipped building on Milwaukee’s north side to a large, newly renovated building downtown that is accessible to clients from all over the city.

Over the years since its founding, Community Advocates has evolved from dealing primarily with those in crisis to providing programs and services that help prevent crisis.

Whether there is a need for safe, affordable housing; money management services for chronically mentally ill individuals; or quality health care for all, Community Advocates meets these needs with effective, innovative programs and services that work.

Our belief is that advocacy is more than just helping families and individuals. Advocacy is also about building a community that empowers families and individuals to help themselves.

Today, Community Advocates offers more than 40 programs, providing services and assistance that inspire Milwaukee’s neediest individuals and families to envision a future with hope.