This year, Willy Street Co-op’s Community Reinvestment Fund has awarded $25,000 to a group of recipients chosen from a pool of 47 submitted proposals. This represents our largest amount offered to date. 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: www.willystreet.coop/community_reinvestment_fund.

Aldo Leopold Elementary School: $1,500
To build a community garden to support combined educational, nutritional, and social programming for both the school and the community they serve on Madison’s southwest side.

Autism Society of Greater Madison: $850
To begin and sustain a new series of regularly scheduled workshops called “Food for Thought.” These workshops will focus on diet and nutritional health, specific to the needs of people with autism. Additionally, workshops will address many parents’ difficulties around mealtime routines and provide information and resources for how to make meals a more pleasant experience for all involved.

Community GroundWorks: $2,000
Kids participating in the Troy Kids’ Garden Program will rebuild a permanent earth oven in the Culinary Arts Outdoor Classroom (CAOC). The Troy Kids’ Garden encourages healthful eating and nutrition by providing more opportunities for kids to learn how to prepare and cook with the vegetables they plant, nurture, and harvest.

Cultural Studies Club/Edgewood: $2,500
For two summers, flowers, fruits, and vegetable gardens lined the streets, transforming fifteen front yards as part of the Meadowood Front Yard Gardens project in one of Madison’s most blighted areas. Now residents and visitors alike have the opportunity to consume the fresh produce and even try their own hand at gardening. The resident steering committee’s youth employment project will be funded with this money, which is a necessary and invaluable aspect of the project. In addition to helping maintain the gardens, the youth will spend one workday/week picking up trash in the SW neighborhoods.

Dane County TimeBank: $500
The Wellness Project has been formed as part of a collaborative effort of members of the Dane County TimeBank and interested community members to establish ways to better meet the wellness needs of the people in our community. As part of their Community Meals initiative, they will begin offering a regular meeting space for people interested in making more connections to support their health and well being. The meal/workshop series will provide a community meal and a 60-90 minute interactive workshop covering a variety of wellness topics.

Goodman Community Center: $1,000
The students within the Teen Education and Employment Network (TEENworks) program will be responsible for researching, designing, building and planting 100 herb window boxes for distribution in the Fritz Food Pantry of the Goodman Community Center.

Growing Food and Sustainability: $1,000
Growing Food and Sustainability (GFS) is a new youth-led, community-based sustainability initiative in Middleton, WI, which is partnering with Bloom Bake Shop to pilot a bike-powered compost service. Starting in March, GFS will pick up used coffee grounds and vegetable waste once per week, compost it at the GFS garden site, and use the finished compost to organically fertilize the gardens.
The bike will also transport all of the tools and supplies between their three garden sites and also deliver produce to the MOM food pantry once per week where other students will be invited to join in for this group bike outing.

John Muir Elementary PTO: $300
To expand the John Muir Elementary School garden, funds will be used to purchase seeds, soil, plants and additional materials for another raised bed.

Kennedy Heights Community Center: $1,000
As part of a larger community garden project, the children’s garden area will provide a natural play space for regular, supervised play opportunities to hundreds of children ages 3 to 15. In addition to unstructured play in the natural play space, at least 100 children will receive structured environmental education in the natural play space. This may include service projects, gardening, composting, and maintaining the plantings, phenology journals, community awareness campaigns, water conservation projects or environmental advocacy.

Lakeview PTO: $1,000
To enhance the gardens installed in 2009, this funding will allow the design and construction of an outdoor classroom adjacent to the garden and school forest. Having an outdoor space that students can sit and work in will support an inquiry-based hands-on approach to garden- and environmental-based learning.

Lincoln Elementary School: $750
Funds will be used to purchase a shed being built by MATC students in the Building Trades program. Additional funds will be used to purchase a weatherproof bulletin board to install on the shed to use as a communication and teaching tool.

Literacy Network: $1,750
To enhance the English for Health class, which serves to improve health and nutrition knowledge among immigrant populations. Funding will be used to provide nutritional curriculum development, instruction for the nutrition unit of the program, childcare educational programming to support the attendance of the parents, and $20 gift cards for students to shop for a healthy meal that they will prepare.

Lowell Elementary: $750
Funding will purchase seeds and seedlings for the school garden, in addition to purchasing produce from local farmers and kitchen rental to support this school’s own parent-supported Farm to School program.

Music con Brio: $800
Music con Brio, Inc. is an after school program at Emerson Elementary offering high quality music lessons at an affordable graduated tuition schedule to a diverse mix of Madison area students. Music con Brio assists its enrolled families in overcoming the limitations that many face in paying for music lessons, providing transportation. Funding will support the extra costs associated with extra-curricular activities to pay the instructors, as well as enable the organization to retain the services of a professional grant writer.

Neighborhood House: $500
To offer a summer snack program based on the REAP Farm to School Program in conjunction with a gardening project at the Randall Elementary Outdoor Classroom.

Red Caboose: $1,000
To fund cooking activities through the cooking/nutrition project to teach children how to obtain a well balanced diet and prepare simple dishes.

Sherman Middle School: $1,000
Funds will support a Program Manager to organize and facilitate in-classroom lessons as well as bringing students and teachers out to the garden during the school day. Funds will also help keep the garden well maintained while offering over 300 students the opportunity of participating in the garden on a weekly basis.

Slow Food UW/Boys & Girls Club: $1,000
Funds will be used to purchase dirt, tools, resource conservation materials, seeds and workshop materials to create student gardens at the three Madison clubs. The students will work on the planting, upkeep, and the harvesting processes and harvested foods will then be used to create community meals.

Spring Rose Growers Co-op: $2,000
To assist this new group of Madison area farmers as they form an organic growing cooperative. Funding will be used to create a central processing facility to cool, clean, pack and store vegetables before distribution.

Whitehorse Middle School: $500
Funds will help to expand the school garden to include vegetables. Partnering with the Goodman Community Center, the pantry garden will be planted by students at Whitehorse in the spring and be cared for and harvested by students attending the Goodman Center during the summer.

The Workers’ Rights Center: $1,500
The Just Dining Project is an effort by the Workers Rights Center (WRC) and the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin (ICWJ) to educate the public about working conditions for restaurant workers in downtown Madison. To guarantee high quality employment standards in all the industries that make up the food chain system, their efforts this year will be focused on publicizing the working conditions for restaurant workers in downtown Madison; which businesses are providing high-quality, family-supporting jobs in our community.

Youth Services of Southern WI: $1,800
Developed in conjunction with the City of Madison Office of Community Services and the Department of Public Health, the project is designed to help disadvantaged youth improve some of Madison’s most challenged neighborhoods, and promote sustainable agriculture and nutrition. Funding will be used to continue their Youth Community Gardens Project serving the Allied Drive Neighborhood and nearby Southwest Madison.