Willy Street Co-op delivered welcome news to Community Shares of Wisconsin (CSW)/Community CHIP last January. In 2009, shoppers raised a total of $100,000 through CHIP—the first time donations broke the six-figure mark. Thanks to all who CHIPped to make that possible!

This year, with the opening of the second store in Middleton, Co-op staff and CHIP nonprofits are hoping, overall, for even greater levels of generosity from shoppers. The funds go to support the 66 nonprofits that are part of Community CHIP.

What Is CHIP?
The last question at the checkout is usually, “Would you like to CHIP?” When you say yes, 1% is added onto your bill—a 30-cent donation for a $30 purchase. Community CHIP is a sister organization of Community Shares of Wisconsin, and for 39 years CHIP has raised funds for local nonprofits.

The CHIP program was set up in 1974, and the Co-op signed on early as a partner, in 1978. For decades the Willy Street Co-op was the strongest financial backer of the CHIP program. And now it is the sole fundraising partner for CHIP.

Candace Weber, current President of the Community CHIP Board of Directors, was a founder of Community Shares (then Madison Sustaining Fund) and Community CHIP in 1971. Candace noted that she remains involved with CSW/CHIP because she supports the nonprofits that receive funds—so that they can continue their work building a movement for social justice, economic equity, and a healthy environment.

“These are grassroots organizations, which respond to needs that arise in our community,” Candace said. “The Co-op was an original CHIP collecting site. The shoppers, Owners, and staff of the Co-op continue to provide much-needed dollars for these groups that work so hard to improve the quality of all our communities. I always CHIP and am so grateful to the rest of my fellow Co-op shoppers for continuing to do so also.”

Brendon Smith, Director of Communications for the Co-op, noted that Co-op members “are impressed by the number of organizations—66—receiving funds from CHIP. They also like learning about the great work that their donations help support.”

Some Examples of Your Donations at Work
Here are a few examples of the great work that Brendon was referring to. The work of the 66 CHIP groups is wide ranging: some groups work on issues related to women and children, some groups work on justice issues, and some groups do environmental and conservation work.

But here is a sampling of some of the environmental work that you support with your CHIP donations. Though the CHIP nonprofits impact our entire area and sometimes the state, we’re focusing here on work that touches the west side of Madison and Middleton in particular.

REAP Food Group
REAP Food Group helps shorten the distance from farm to table, supports small family farmers, and encourages sustainable farming practices. Each year REAP teams up with Capital Brewery in Middleton to host the Burgers & Brew fest which showcases local farmers, local chefs and local brewers. “The event brings large numbers of visitors to the area,” said Miriam Grunes with REAP. “People visit Middleton to enjoy the best local foods and beers. At the same time they’re fostering stronger ties to the community.”

REAP has also partnered with Susan Peterman, the Food and Nutritional Services Supervisor at Middleton-Cross Plains School District. “Susan is a passionate advocate for local foods,” said Miriam. “REAP is proud to have worked with her and an incredible team of dedicated parents and staff to introduce healthy local food into the lunch program in Middleton schools.

“We also help the PTAs in some Middleton schools conduct an annual school fundraiser that features local food products. It’s a pleasure working with this community that really appreciates the importance of supporting our local foods and local farmers.”

Gathering Waters Conservancy
Gathering Water Conservancy assists conservation and land trust groups, among them the Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Inc. Founded 15 years ago, the group aims to protect and restore the Pheasant Branch watershed. The watershed covers approximately 24 square miles—including parts of Madison and Middleton—and drains into Lake Mendota.

Several years ago the Friends of Pheasant Branch group helped prevent construction of one of two proposed sewer lines. Since then they have worked to restore the area’s natural habitat. Recently the group, thanks to its supporters, bought about 19 acres of land next to the Conservancy. Now named the John C. Bock Community Forest, it is owned by the city of Middleton. Land trusts such as Friends of Pheasant Branch work through private, voluntary action to protect land in perpetuity. And Gathering Waters is there to assist these land trusts as needed.

Madison Audubon Society
Another group involved with Pheasant Branch Conservancy is Madison Audubon Society. Madison Audubon not only educates and advocates on behalf of birds and other wildlife, it manages more than 1,000 acres of prairie and wetlands.
For decades Madison Audubon has promoted local birding through the “Guide to Birding in the Madison Area” (see “Birding” on their website)—and it offers field trips to these sites. Among the birding sites in Middleton or on the west side of Madison, the Guide includes Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Owen Conservation Park, Tiedeman’s Pond, and Shoveler’s Sink (Mineral Point Road and Timber Lane).

Sustain Dane
Sustain Dane’s Mpower ChaMpion Business Program—which helps businesses go green efficiently—worked with seven businesses in 2009. With those businesses’ 35 sustainability projects, the impact is substantial: a reduction of over 6 million pounds of carbon emissions, and a cost savings of over $200,000 each year. Mpower is currently working with an additional 8 businesses. (If you’re wondering whether ChaMpion Program is right for your business, go to Sustain Dane’s Mpower website, www.mpoweringmadison.com.)

Both individuals and businesses can also take the Mpower pledge and join others in cutting 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions citywide by 2011. That means we can avoid burning 33,844 tons of coal—enough coal to fill 3.5 miles of railroad cars.
 

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB)
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger is leading conversion of the Army’s largest gunpowder plant—the Badger Army Ammunition Plan near Baraboo—to peaceful purposes. Currently CSWAB members are pressing the U.S. Army to develop a way to test soil at Badger and other contaminated military sites for all six forms of the carcinogenic explosive DNT. (Current methods test for only two of the six forms.) Adopting comprehensive soil testing will set a national precedent that will help protect base workers, soldiers, and communities.

Sierra Club Foundation
The accomplishments of the Sierra Club Foundation, John Muir Chapter, have both local and statewide impact. Some of the more notable successes have included educating, advocating, and working to:

  • Move the Blount, Charter Street, Capitol Heating, and other power plants off coal to natural gas, biomass, or other cleaner energy solutions
  • Promote intercity rail and regional transit authorities
  • Protect and restore the integrity of Wisconsin’s ground and drinking water
  • Create a Water Sentinels program to help monitor stream quality
  • Limit sprawl and create sustainable urban growth
  • Have an active Inner City Youth Outings program to expose disadvantaged youth to nature, environmental education, and wilderness adventure
  • Incorporate Recycling Away from Home waste reduction efforts at Madison neighborhood festivals

Would You Like to CHIP?
Environmental efforts aren’t the only type of work done with your donations. Next month you can read about CHIP groups that work on behalf of justice issues, women’s and children’s issues, and those with disabilities.
All of the 66 CHIP nonprofits want to thank you to all of you who say “yes” to CHIP!
1000 Friends of Wisconsin
ABC for Health
ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation
Arts Wisconsin
Bayview Foundation
Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin
Center for Family Policy and Practice
Center for Media and Democracy
Chrysalis
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger
Citizens Utility Board
Clean Wisconsin
Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups
Common Wealth Development
Community Action on Latin America
Community GroundWorks
Dane County TimeBank
Disability Rights Wisconsin
Fair Housing Center of Greater Madison
Fair Wisconsin Education Fund
Freedom Inc.
Friends of Wisconsin State Parks
Gathering Waters Conservancy
Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) for Safe Schools
Grassroots Empowerment Project
Grassroots Leadership College
Housing Initiatives
Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice
League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Fund
Legal Action of Wisconsin
Madison Area Community Land Trust
Madison Audubon Society
Madison HOURS
Midwest Environmental Advocates
NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin Foundation
New Harvest Foundation
Nuestro Mundo Inc.
OutReach
Physicians for Social Responsibility —Wisconsin
The Progressive
Project Home
Rape Crisis Center
REAP Food Group
River Alliance of Wisconsin
Sierra Club Foundation, John Muir Chapter
Sustain Dane
Tenant Resource Center
UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence
Wheels for Winners
Wisconsin Apprentice Organizers Project
Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Wisconsin Community Fund
Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired
Wisconsin Council on Children and Families
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Wisconsin Early Childhood Association
Wisconsin Family Ties
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
Wisconsin Literacy
Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
Wisconsin Wetlands Association
Wisconsin Women’s Network
Women in Transition
Working Capital for Community Needs
WORT 89.9 FM Community Radio