Although it might seem a bit like insider baseball, folks at Milwaukee Recreation – a department of Milwaukee Public Schools – tell me that their just-announced accreditation through the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), "is akin to the Bucks winning the championship to us."
That's because Milwaukee Rec is just the third Wisconsin recreation agency in the state to conquer this achievement, which is an honor only 1.9 percent of park and recreation agencies – 193 out of more than 10,000 – in the U.S. have earned. It is also the only school district-run agency to get accreditation.
“We are extremely honored to receive this prestigious accreditation,” said Senior Director Lynn Greb. “Our entire team remained committed to this effort from the beginning and has worked extremely hard to gather data, provide information, and implement new strategies that ultimately allowed us to meet all the CAPRA standards necessary for accreditation.
"This work has established a roadmap for our department and will ensure our operations and services continue to meet a high level of quality for the Milwaukee community.”
This accreditation is the only national one for park and recreation agencies and it rates each agency on more than 150 recognized standards, encompassing operation, management and service to the community.
In fact, the number of standards was increased a couple times during Milwaukee Recreation's four-year effort to gain accreditation.
Successfully gaining accreditation shows that an agency has, according to Milwaukee Recreation, "met rigorous standards related to the management and administration of lands, facilities, resources, programs, safety and services. "
The process, which was begun in 2017, involved formal application; self assessments; site visits by independent, disinterested judges; a hearing and more.
During the process, the MKE Rec staff kept a progress board in its office.
Now that it has achieved accreditation, Milwaukee Recreation is required to submit annual reports and undergo a reaccreditation process in five years.
Milwaukee Recreation, in addition to managing dozens of playfields and other facilities (like Hawthorn Glen) around the city and operating countless classes for community members of all ages at sites across Milwaukee also operates many after hours school programs.
The agency was founded in 1911, when the state passed a law that allowed funds to be raised to underwrite the use of schoolhouses for community uses. Milwaukee became the first city in the country to swing open the doors of its public schools for community athletics, health care, classes in citizenship, English, sewing, cooking and much more.
You can read more about that in this story about the old Lapham Park Social Center. Read more about the Milwaukee Recreation playfields in this article about one of them, Enderis Park.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.