From a pool of 36 proposals submitted for a total of over $60,000, the Willy Street Co-op’s Community Reinvestment Fund has awarded $25,000 this year. Seeded with money from abandoned equity, the Fund has been supporting grassroots, local not-for-profit organizations for two decades. In a ceremony in May, the following organizations gathered to accept their awards and share more about their exciting projects. For more information about the Community Reinvestment Fund and its history, please see our page for the fund at: www.willystreet.coop/community_reinvestment_fund.

Center for Resilient Cities: $1800
The Healthy Living Program will teach students how to plan menus and prepare meals using seasonal vegetables grown locally, as well as how to supplement garden produce with healthy store-bought staples. Students will also be participating in a program of stretching, aerobic and strengthening exercises to build resilient bodies.

Community Groundworks: $3000
This funding will help with the purchase of a Cold Cube refrigeration unit, which will enable the sprout enterprise to meet new receiving guidelines proposed by Willy Street Co-op. This will result in safer food handling and delivery practices, and will continue to assist in providing a stable annual income for the producers, and a year-round local food option for consumers.

East Madison Community Center: $800
The Kids Garden Field to Fork program will increase capacity for outdoor kitchen space, and improve preservation of the harvest through increased canning, freezing, and juicing. Youth will increase their learning of food safety, harvesting, and food preparation.

Eat for Equity: $500
This funding will enable the organization to purchase a chest freezer and basic preservation supplies, which will be used to process in-season donated produce. These foods will be used in fundraising dinners throughout the year, and will provide opportunities to celebrate and educate about local foods.

Edgewood College: $2000
The Gardens for Empowerment project will be initiating a new program in the Brentwood Village Neighborhood. This funding will be used to hire youth from the neighborhood, who will participate in the Front Yard Garden Initiative. Participants will learn job expectations and skills, and will help build community by creating and sustaining flower and vegetable gardens.

Emerson Elementary PTO: $800
The children’s garden will benefit from the addition of succession planting and additional snacking vegetable and fruits. Funds will go towards gardening supplies, plants, seeds, and equipment.

Fitchburg Fields: $1000
This funding will go towards the development of two new Spanish-language workshops. These classes will be focused on food preservation and garden produce, and will address low-cost, nutritious meal-planning options.

Freedom, Inc: $2000
This funding will go toward the Brittingham Community Garden, which is a new project set to break ground this spring. The garden will serve as a place of growing and sustaining healthy foods and medicines, recreation and connectedness for many low-income folks of color to the park, community building opportunities for neighbors who are economically and racially segregated, and folks sharing socio-political hirstories and opportunities to build power together.

Growing Food and Sustainability: $700
The Youth Green Business Project is in the process of developing infrastructure for the Downtown Middleton farmers’ market. The market stand will give participants the valuable experiences of running a business, including creating a business plan, marketing, selling, customer relations, and accounting. Funds will be used to purchase materials for the market stand.

Literacy Network: $1200
The English for Health program empowers English language learners to improve health literacy. This program incorporates nutritional knowledge, healthy recipes, reading skills for food labels, cooking, and family-based language activities. This funding will be used to provide food, nutritional curriculum development, and childcare.

Lussier Family West YMCA: $1000
The Community Learning Garden is a new garden club program for young YMCA members. Participants will grow and cook with their own produce, and learn about eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Funds will also go towards providing healthy snacks for the Youth Zone and Family Prime Time programs.

Madison Children’s Museum: $875
This funding will go towards compensating the gardeners in residence, who contribute their time and knowledge to the Hmong Gardens and Rooftop Ramble exhibit. This project hopes to inspire families to take their children outdoors, interact with the community, and learn about rare plants and their oral traditions.

Madison Waldorf School: $400
This funding will go towards bringing a farm-based curriculum to third-grade students. The students will travel to farms and learn on-site skills, as well as host visiting farmers to their classroom.

Malcolm Shabazz City High School: $800
Project Green Teen will be creating a menu for a week-long service learning trip. The menu will be highlight the mathematics of project management, and funding will go towards the food costs for the trip.

Marquette Elementary: $500
The Healthy Snack program seeks to connect students with opportunities to eat more local fresh produce. This funding will be used to augment the school gardens, and provide additional snacks for the students through the next school year.

Neighborhood House Community Center: $400
The summer camp program will be connecting with a local farmer, who will be providing vegetables for afternoon snacks. The participants in the program will be drawing connections between the food they eat and where it grows, as well as being exposed to a variety of produce.

North/Eastside Senior Coalition: $625
The Diabetic Cooking Class for Seniors will educate low-income African-American senior adults with diabetes on how to make healthy meals on a limited budget. Funding will be used to pay for instruction and cooking supplies.

River Food Pantry: $1400
This funding will go towards the Sweet Potato Project, an initiative to encourage the Madison community to plant and harvest 10,000 pounds of sweet potatoes. The end-goal is to donate half of the yield to local food pantries. This project is a way to engage the community around hunger-related issues in Dane County.

UW Odyssey Project: $450
Throughout the academic year, this funding will be used to cover the costs of fresh fruits and vegetables for students with limited economic resources to eat and take home to their families.

Wheels for Winners: $750
Through the earn-a-bike project, youth will contribute volunteer time and energy and receive a bicycle in return. This funding will go towards refurbishing and distributing 37 bicycles, helmets, and locks.

Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired: $1000
This funding will enable the Council to offer cooking classes for people with low vision. Participants will lean new, adaptive techniques for healthy and safe cooking, and will increase their understanding about nutrition and healthy food choices.

The Workers’ Rights Center: $2000
Released in 2012, the Just Dining guide addressed employment standards for restaurant workers in downtown Madison. This funding will go towards expanding and updating restaurant listings in the guide, creating a Spanish-language version, bringing high-rated employers together to discuss best practices, and developing a phone app and interactive website.

Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin: $1000    
The Southwest Youth Community Gardens Project serves the Meadowood and Allied Drive neighborhoods in Southwest Madison. Youth employed by the program plant and maintain front- and backyard vegetable gardens in their neighborhoods. In the process, participants learn about the basic tenets of sustainable agriculture, organic gardening, good nutrition, and community organizing while developing and building upon job skills.

Total: $25,000
The Committee to determine awards included Rick Bernstein, Deb Shapiro, Dawn Matlak, Leslie Stephany, and Sandy Thistle.

Olbrich Mulch SaleSchonheit GardensSerrvSolidarity Realty