Seeded with money from abandoned equity, the Willy Street Co-op Community Reinvestment Fund has supported grassroots, local nonprofit organizations since 1992. From a pool of 37 proposals submitted for a total of over $73,000, the Fund Committee has awarded $30,000 to 18 organizations this year. On May 19, the following organizations will 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.

The River Food Pantry: The River Bakery: $4000
The River Food Pantry (RFP) provides free groceries, meals, and clothing to anyone in need and had seen an increase in working families who find their income insufficient for paying expenses. In response, RFP is developing enterprises designed to train and empower clients while paying a living wage. Their first endeavor is The River Bakery, a from-scratch dessert business training that will make and market products to area events and grocers. The bakery will train students on basic baking, food safety, and life skills, resulting in certification by the Wisconsin Bakers’ Association, job and internship opportunities at the bakery and local businesses, and access to further mentorship. In partnership with FEED Kitchens, Madison Area Technical College, and Madison Urban Ministry, our grant will offset a portion of training costs for 20 students.

Badger Rock Charter Middle School: Instructionally Integrated Use of Honeybees in an Urban Middle School Curriculum: $2605 (Fiscal Sponsor: Center for Resilient Cities)
Badger Rock utilizes hands-on, outdoor activities to foster environmental stewardship. This year, they will add an urban beekeeping curriculum involving the setup and maintenance of two hives. Students will also process and sell bee products, learn bee biology, and use the hives in STEM activities. The hives will provide honey for the school cafeteria and pollinate both the school gardens and the Badger Park prairie. Partnering with the Dane County Beekeepers’ Association, funds will support supply purchases and professional beekeeper training for staff and students.

Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin: FoodShare Program & EBT Program at Dane County Farmers’ Market: $2500
Community Action Coalition (CAC) develops economic and social capacities to reduce poverty and has facilitated the Dane County Farmers’ Market (DCFM) EBT Program since 2012. DCFM has a point-of-sale machine at the Wednesday and Saturday markets to process EBT funds into scrips to exchange with market vendors for food purchases. Also funded by the DCFM board, grant funds will enable the hiring of part-time staff to train volunteers, support communications with vendors, track sales and customer data, and provide outreach opportunities on behalf of the program.

DreamBikes: DreamBikes Mobile Bicycle Repair Program: $2000
DreamBikes places used bicycle stores in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods and provides hands-on, paid job training to teens. Recently, DreamBikes started a Mobile Bicycle Repair Program for free, on-site bicycle maintenance at designated locations throughout Madison out of a vehicle stocked with spare parts and tools for on-the-go repairs to make cycling safe and affordable community-wide. Staff learn and work outside the retail shop and in their neighborhoods, offering valuable services to those in need. The Community Reinvestment Fund grant will assist with tool, part and accessory expenses as well as employee compensation to run the program for 13 weeks from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Growing Food and Sustainability: Worker Cooperative Development Project: $2000 (Fiscal Sponsor: Grand Aspirations)
Growing Food and Sustainability (GFS) is a youth-led sustainability initiative in Middleton providing leadership training through agriculture, nutrition, cooking, art, biking, and multi-age relationships. GFS is currently a volunteer organization creating financially self-sustaining projects that provide goods and services to the community. GFS runs summertime garden camps, an annual plant sale, and is launching a 12-member CSA. In order to meet a growing demand for services, GFS seeks to incorporate as a worker-owned cooperative and use income sharing to compensate directors and interns. Workers would exchange 40 volunteer hours for membership. Once a member, further hours incurred would be tracked and profits would be divided among members based on the number of hours worked. This business model would provide an opportunity for directors, interns, and campers to learn about cooperative principles first-hand and take these lessons to future ventures. In partnership with Farm Commons, the UW Center for Cooperatives, and Wisconsin Farmers’ Union, our grant will support legal counsel to incorporate, ratify bylaws, and properly establish income sharing.

Literacy Network: Supporting Healthy Immigrant Families: $2000
Since 1974, Literacy Network has helped Dane County residents improve their literacy skills. Their award winning English for Health class—which has a community-based approach that is a model for health systems and literacy providers in four states—improves health and nutrition knowledge among immigrant populations. The course runs for 12 weeks and familiarizes parents with healthy, affordable food choices and practices via activities in the kitchen, at the store, and at home. The Community Reinvestment Fund will continue its support for this program alongside St. Mary’s Hospital, UW School of Pharmacy, GHC, Access Community Health Centers, UW Health, and Dean Clinic by funding nutritional curriculum development and instruction, child care educational programming to support parental attendees, and $20 gift cards to shop for a healthy meal that they will prepare.

Workers’ Rights Center: Just Dining 2014: $2000
The Workers’ Rights Center (WRC) provides advocacy training to resolve workplace issues. WRC released the Just Dining Guide in 2012 to advocate for better wages, benefits, and working conditions in the restaurant industry and highlight restaurant employers in central Madison who provide quality, family supporting jobs. In 2013, the Guide was updated with expanded listings and a Spanish version was released. Our grant funding will continue the momentum by providing printing and staffing funds to assist with outreach, interpretation and translation services, improved search and mapping functionality on the website, and expanded operating system compatibility for a new Just Dining phone app. Efforts include expanded coverage to Monroe Street, Atwood Avenue, and Park Street. This project is in partnership with the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice, the Student Labor Action Coalition, Slow Food Madison, and the South Central Federation of Labor.

Boys & Girls Club of Dane County: Triple Play—A Game for Mind, Body, and Soul: $1996
The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County has been a leader in youth development programs since 1999. Triple Play focuses on mind, body, and soul, encouraging young people ages seven to 18 to eat smart, choose healthy snacks, be mindful of portion size, stay hydrated, and reduce fat and sugar intake. It includes fitness challenges, sport club opportunities, and helping the Healthy Habits Garden Clubs and UW Slow Food start a community garden. Partnering with Group Health Cooperative, UW Slow Food, BMO Harris Bank, Blackhawk Church, and DreamBikes, grant funds will help purchase supplies for the nutrition program, fitness programs, sports leagues, and the garden clubs at both locations.

Red Caboose Day Care Center: Camp Caboose Cooks!: $1550
Red Caboose Day Care Center has provided care to young children on Madison’s east side since 1972 and offers Camp Caboose at Marquette Elementary School each summer. On Fridays, Camp Caboose Cooks! allows five to 11 year-old campers to plan, prepare, and serve fresh, healthy meals from foods acquired from the Marquette Elementary Garden, farmers’ markets, Willy Street Co-op and two CSA shares. The meals serve both campers and the parents. Alongside UW-Madison LEAF, REAP, and the UW Department of Food and Nutrition, funds will purchase two large CSA shares, a field trip to a local CSA farm, and ingredients for meals and snacks.

Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin: Clean & Freshies Southwest Community Gardens Project: $1536.88
Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin strengthens the lives of youth, their families, and our community. Community Reinvestment Funding will continue support of their Clean & Freshies Southwest Community Garden Project. Developed in conjunction with the City of Madison Office of Community Services and Department of Public Health, the project serves the Meadowood and Allied Drive neighborhoods. Youth ages 14-17 with barriers to employment plant and maintain vegetable gardens in neighborhood yards and clean up litter in green spaces. The produce grown is given to the program participants and community members in need. The youth leave the program with an employment history and job references. Our grant will fund space, t-shirts, supplies, snacks, work permits, and field trips.

Hillel Foundation at the University of Wisconsin: Challah for Hunger: $1439
Founded in 1924, UW Hillel challenges the Jewish student body to grow intellectually and assume leadership positions in the world. Challah for Hunger is an international nonprofit providing for global hunger and disaster relief through the sale of challah bread. Hillel began participating in Challah for Hunger in 2009. Volunteer managed and operated, half of the proceeds from sales are donated to the American Jewish World Services’ Sudan Relief and Advocacy Fund and half is donated to Porchlight, a nonprofit assisting homeless people in Dane County. Outcomes include traditional bread-making skills, learning to run a small business, awareness of local and worldwide hunger and homelessness, and valuing community service. The Community Reinvestment Fund grant will support increasing production 33% to 900 loaves per month, by enhancing communications, and purchasing ingredients to increase production from eight to 11 batches per week.

Aldo Leopold Nature Center: Gardening Naturally Project: $1250
Aldo Leopold Nature Center was created in 1994 to promote environmental education in the spirit of Aldo Leopold. The Gardening Naturally Project exposes economically disadvantaged children to the joys and rewards of gardening and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables by providing opportunities to plan, prepare, plant, maintain and harvest fruits and vegetables from an organic garden. Participants will learn how to collect seeds, compost, set up rain barrels, mark plants naturally, create a rustic bark fence, grow heirlooms, and both prepare and preserve their harvest. Partnering with Madison Schools and Community Recreation’s Youth Resources Centers, funding will support the hire of naturalists to implement the project.

Neighborhood House Community Center: Community Youth Garden: $1000
Neighborhood House has provided at-risk children with positive role models and academic assistance for almost a century. Recently, they added a community youth garden that provides gardening, nutrition, cooking, science, art, and environmental education to over 75 new kids each year. Participants take fresh food home to their families. The surrounding neighborhoods of Vilas and Greenbush help with the gardening, make community meals, and donate to local food pantries. Community Reinvestment Funds will offset costs to work with local master gardeners and officials in leading garden activities.

Spring Rose Growers Cooperative: Growing Spring Rose Cooperative: $1000 (Fiscal Sponsor: Linda and Gene Farley Center for Peace, Justice & Sustainability)
The Spring Rose Growers’ Cooperative provides technical assistance to their mostly minority-owned farm memberships. Founded in July 2010 by four farms, there are currently nine members from Hmong, Latino, and European-American backgrounds. They offer farming related classes to the public and began their CSA in 2013. This year they wish to improve fiscal sustainability by increasing produce sales. Community Reinvestment Fund grant will purchase additional durable plastic bins for CSA shareholders, labels and logos for wholesale vending, and printing for marketing and signage.

Middleton Youth Center: Healthy Adventures Program: $965 (Fiscal Sponsor: Kromrey Middle School PTO)
The Middleton Youth Center (MYC) provides free programs in academics, enrichment, community service, and leadership for fifth to eighth grade students. Participating students practice volunteerism and may serve on their Youth Leadership Board. Over the summer, MYC will host its Healthy Adventures Program, emphasizing positive relationships with food, exercise, and the outdoors. Students will volunteer at the Middleton Youth Farm, harvest the food, and turn it into nutritious snacks and meals. The program includes eight workshops to connect physically with the natural world through harvesting, cooking, hiking, canoeing, biking, and swimming. The program ends with an overnight trip to Devil’s Lake State Park and a chef’s competition using seasonal ingredients to design and prepare a menu for the trip. Our grant will fund the workshops, a field trip to Governor Nelson State Park, the Devil’s Lake camping trip, and all the ingredients for the competition. This project is in partnership with Rutabaga Paddlesports and

Growing Food and Sustainability.Madison Christian Community: Bees, Pollinators, Producers and Educators: $801.86
The Madison Christian Community (MCC) guiding principles include working in environmentally responsible ways and engaging each other, neighbors, and the wider world in action to improve people’s lives. Their children’s garden is part of a larger community garden that has provided opportunities to the public for 40 years. This year, MCC will add bees and beekeeping to their garden, where they grow food for the Lussier Community Education Center Food Pantry. Elementary students attending day camp at Lussier will garden with members of MCC two mornings per week and learn about beekeeping. Their goals include developing understandings of species interdependence, the value of garden pollination, the integrity of working together, and to provide a frame of reference for the elimination of pesticide use. The Community Reinvestment Fund will provide the equipment for two bee hives, four protective veils for children, and two packages of bees.

Peacefully Organic Produce LLC: POP’s CSA Walk-In Cooler and Cleaning/Packing Station: $756.26 (Fiscal Sponsor: Linda and Gene Farley Center for Peace, Justice & Sustainability)
Peacefully Organic Produce (POP) is the first veteran-led CSA farm in the Madison area, providing a healthy and peaceful place to reintegrate into the community. Currently located on 12 acres of granted land in the Bishop’s Bay sustainable development project, the CSA plans to build a walk-in cooler, four cleaning stations, and three packing stations to support their business. The equipment will be designed to disassemble and reassemble, should they need to relocate, and the designs will be available via open sources for other farmers to use. Our grant will cover the costs for the cleaning and packing stations.

Madison Public Library Foundation: Good Snack Club: $600
The Madison Public Library Foundation was founded in 1933 to enhance the library’s resources. Collaborating with the Meadowridge branch and the Meadowood Neighborhood Center, K-12 students will learn healthy food choices via their new afterschool Good Snack Club. The students will use their community kitchen to plan, create, and enjoy healthy snacks daily from September to December. Every third week, the library will host Family Snack Night, when the children will invite their parents to join in a light meal they have made and reinforce their healthy eating habits. The Community Reinvestment Fund will be used to pay for Family Snack Night.

The 2014 Community Reinvestment Fund Committee was made up of the following Owners: Rick Bernstein, Meghan Gauger, Michael Gay, Gini Knight, Dawn Matlak, Kirsten Moore, and Sandy Thistle. Thank you for your support!