by Lynn Olson, Member Services Manager
Cooperative Principal #7, Concern for Community, is the primary motivation for the Williamson Street Grocery Cooperative (WSGC) Community Reinvestment Fund.
This annual sowing of community seeds is funded through unclaimed and abandoned membership money, or equity, that has accumulated over past years. Specifically, our bylaws state: “the Co-op shall dedicate any funds (equity) remaining unclaimed to educational and charitable purposes.”
Each year, a mailing is sent to the last known address of any owners who still have equity in WSGC, but whose accounts have remained inactive for over a year. Once/if contacted, those owners have the option to renew their membership (by making an equity payment toward their full fair share), to withdraw the equity (cancel the membership), or donate their equity to the Community Reinvestment Fund.
Since 1992, the WSGC Community Reinvestment Fund has endeavored to make a difference in the quality of life for members of our community by supporting a diverse array of projects. Programs have focused on the areas of Food, Nutrition, Health/Well-Being, Sustainable Agriculture, Cooperative Education and Social Change, and have included the following:
• A local youth radio initiative
• An after-school healthy snack
• A youth business mentoring program
• Healthy cooking classes for adults with developmental disabilities
• A low-income food voucher program for fresh local farm products
• Emergency food assistance
• A local childcare agency’s share in a Community Supported Agriculture farm
• Gardening tools for a community youth group
The focus of this funding is to provide grants to local, non-profit groups with an otherwise limited access to funding. In 2005, the committee received 33 applications and made 9 awards totaling $12,000.
Applications are on our website (www.willystreet.coop) and at Customer Service. Please read the application carefully, as there are additional guidelines on it.
Priority will be given to developmental projects, educational projects, and events that are consistent with WSGC’s goals. This includes, but is not limited to, a focus on:
• Sustainable Agriculture
• Cooperative Education
• Social Change
Priority will also be given to organizations working in the near-east side community of Madison. Women, people of color, and members of other protected groups are strongly encouraged to apply.
Applications should be typed or printed legibly in blue or black ink.
Please attach a copy of the Internal Revenue Service determination letter indicating 501(c)(3) status of your organization. Also, attach any relevant information about the organization, such as marketing materials, letters of recommendation, and financial statements relevant to the application.
Applications must be received or delivered by February 28, 2006 at 9:00pm to the Willy Street Co-op, 1221 Williamson Street, Madison, WI 53703. Grants will be announced in writing by April 4, 2006. Questions about the grant process can be directed to Lynn Olson, Member Services Manager, WSGC at (608) 251-0884 or e-mail at:
In order to familiarize Dane county health care providers and outreach workers, ABC for Health has planned a series of trainings for these professionals, aimed at educating them in reaching non-English speaking Hispanic agricultural workers about area healthcare programs. A staff attorney and Health Benefits Counselor will facilitate the program and this funding will pay specifically for staff time, printing of materials, refreshments and lunch for the attendees.
Promoting bicycle safety throughout Madison, a BFW representative will conduct several area bike repair workshops for all members of the community. Specifically, at local east-side festivals (Atwood Summer Fest, Willy Street Fair, etc.), this funding would pay for staff time, printing and supplies to carry out the project.
This community garden project has already established the Field to Farm program for several years on the Troy Community Farm on Madison’s northeast side. This funding will enable FTG to provide an opportunity for 12 low-income neighborhood teens to learn sustainable farming practices, natural habitat landscaping and receive additional education on nutrition and seasonal cooking.
On Madison’s south side, Lincoln Elementary School has been at the center of efforts to introduce organic agriculture and good nutrition practices to its students through the Homegrown Lunch program. This project would further enhance this program for 40 students at the school by providing a seed starting project, farmers market and an overnight trip to a tribal-owned farm in Oneida County.
Continuing the Partner Shares Program, this organization will use this funding to promote their new effort called Program Participation and Nutrition Education workshops. Some of the funding will help them purchase artist’s clay for use in their Annual Empty Bowls fundraiser. Program participation and the Nutrition workshops are open to members of the community throughout Madison’s east and north sides.
This funding will support the development of new curriculum targeted toward students interested in pursuing a culinary profession. This quarter-long course called “Play with your Food: Discovering the Art of Cooking,” will culminate with preparing the food for a fundraising dinner at a local restaurant and catering for a learning trip to Vernon County in May 2005.
The School Age Program at Marquette Elementary School in the Wil-Mar neighborhood hosts a large number of children throughout the school year and over the summer. This on-going program will be enhanced with this funding to create their own cookbook after learning about foods and how to cook them from the Willy Street Co-op. The project is planned to culminate in a cookbook celebration with the students preparing recipes from their book.
As one of the shelters of Dane County providing services for the homeless with severe mental illness, they plan to purchase four CSA shares at Troy Community Farm, nearby. Interested guests of Safe Haven would have the opportunity to visit the CSA grounds, participate in special activities and volunteer on the farm.