Michael Gilbert is a local retail executive who has launched a non-profit with a focus on creating a positive mindset for young people.
Its online social platform focuses on the mental health of young adults. And it is featured in the upcoming seventh season of the Wisconsin TV series, “Project Pitch It”
Gilbert’s nonprofit, Lumin-us, is targeted toward young adults, ages 18 to 26, who are going through transition in their lives, he said.
“It’s meant to be what I call social therapy, so it’s not intended to replace clinical therapy. It’s to build on ‘mental wealth’ first through digital channels then evolving into an in-person experience,” he said. A campus club of 47 students has formed around the idea at American University in Washington, D.C, he said. “We’re trying to get people together in a safe space with values of compassion, kindness, support and common interests.”
Gilbert’s Jewish identity is front and center with Lumin-us. “I think it goes back to how can you try to make the world a better place, to give our kids a great community, a place of positivity, support and education that I think everybody deserves.”
Lumin-us launched last September with a website, Instagram channel and podcasts. Gilbert’s 22-year-old daughter, Sophie, helps with marketing. The first podcast is from his 27-year-old son, Simon, explaining a journey from a dark place to going through therapy and taking ownership of a better path in his own life. The second podcast features a young man who talks about antisemitism that he experienced going to a Catholic high school in suburban Wisconsin.
Gilbert, who is on the board of Congregation Shalom, has had a retail career including executive leadership positions at Gap Inc., American Eagle and Kohl’s.
Though he hasn’t left retail completely, he wanted to switch gears in life and “do my little part in trying to stimulate some positivity among young people.”
Of his experience with “Project Pitch It,” Gilbert said the moguls are “very interactive and supportive of all the entrepreneurial ideas including Lumin-us.”
Aired for eight weeks, starting March 18 on various Wisconsin stations, including WISN-TV 12, “Project Pitch It” promotes an opportunity for Wisconsin entrepreneurs to present their ideas to a panel of “leading business moguls.” Participants win awards to advance their projects, said Kari Altman, director of community outreach for “Project Pitch-It.”
“The goal is to inspire, nurture and educate Wisconsin viewers on the topic of entrepreneurism,” said producer/creator Bev Greenberg.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center is the main sponsor of Season 7 of “Project Pitch It.” Jewish community benefactors Sheldon and Marianne Lubar donated $10 million to establish the UWM Entrepreneurship Center.