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Mielke Family Foundation

Furthering education by supporting the arts, health, youth and aging in the communities of Appleton and Shawano.

Our Story

The Mielke Family Foundation’s main focus is education, to fulfill the charitable wishes of founders Edward, Beulah, Ruth and Sarah Mielke. It is to further education that the Mielke Family Foundation supports the arts, health, youth and aging in the communities of Appleton and Shawano.  Education is not limited merely to schooling, but more broadly defined as follows:

Education has to do with discovery – that learning of the culture, the meanings assigned, the rarefied techniques that have come out of life experiences of people.  They seem to be just as important for human adaptation as these things that we have singled out in school to teach.


The Mielke Family Foundation is one of the most active philanthropic foundations in northeast Wisconsin. It was established in 1963 by Dr. Edward F. Mielke and his wife, Beulah (Bee), together with sisters Ruth and Sarah Mielke. A native of Shawano, Wisconsin, Dr. Edward Mielke practiced medicine in Appleton for 60 years. Ruth presided over the library at Appleton West High School for 40 years, and Sarah taught advanced mathematics at Shawano High School. In 1996, the Foundation reorganized to become the first supporting organization within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. Residents of Appleton and Shawano serve on its Grants Committee and Board of Directors. Members of the second and third generations of the Mielke Family are active participants in the work of the Foundation and, through the establishment of funds within the Foundation, perpetuate the philosophy of giving back to the community in which one lives.


The Mielke Family Foundation is not accepting grant applications at this time while the Board undergoes strategic planning during 2023. Information about updated grant guidelines will be posted here as it becomes available. This pause does not affect previously awarded grants. For questions, please contact Carolyn Desrosiers, Community Engagement Manager, at 920.702.7625 or email her with any questions.

Proactive, Mission-Driven Programs

In addition to the grants program, the Mielke Family Foundation proudly sponsors the following:

  • 2016 Groth Mentoring Award recipient Mary Poulson and John Mielke.

    2016 Groth Mentoring Award recipient Mary Poulson and the late John Mielke.

    Educator of the Year Awards, which recognize the outstanding contributions by Appleton Area School District teachers or professional educators from the Early Childhood-6 and 7-12 school levels.

  • The Paul and Elaine Groth Mentoring Award, which recognizes individuals from the Fox Valley who serve as mentors in the community and exemplify the qualities that made Paul and Elaine’s lives meaningful to others. This award is presented each spring and nominations are welcome at
  • The Bill Mielke Volunteer Educator Award, which recognizes a Shawano-area individual or group for dedication to education.
  • Other proactive opportunities based on the Mielke Family Foundation’s knowledge of emerging community needs.

Board Members

Lee Allinger
Jarrad Bittner
Gregg Curry, Vice President/Secretary
Patrick Gill
Steve Grover
Pam Gruner, President
Kevin Loomans, Vice President/Treasurer
Doug Mielke
Sally Mielke
Stephen Mielke
David Plekenpol
Renee Ulman
Anne West