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Announcing the 2017 Community Reinvestment Fund Grant Recipients

Since 1992, the Willy Street Co-op has contributed $402,000 to local nonprofits and cooperatives to support developmental and educational projects for our community. The fund is seeded when Owners either abandon or donate their Owner equity to our Co-op. Funds are allocated annually by the Board of Directors in accordance with our bylaws that stipulate unclaimed or donated equity be dedicated to educational and charitable purposes. Grants from the Community Reinvestment Fund (CRF) may be awarded to projects supporting food justice and/or access, cooperative development, sustainable agriculture, health and well-being, and/or social change.

This year, the Board allocated $35,000 in grants available. With 18 organizations applying for a total of $47,534 in funds, grants were competitive to earn. The committee paid specific attention to the potential number of people and demographics impacted by the projects proposed, professional or social development opportunities, strong partnerships to complete the projects, the hands-on nature of the projects proposed, potential job creation and the organization’s demonstration of financial need. We are pleased to announce the 14 recipients for 2017. 

Healthy Community Kitchen: “Healthy & Healing Foods” Educational Programming $4,950

“Healthy Community Kitchen (HCK) eases the burden of illness on individuals and families by providing healthy organic meals, education about healthy eating and the caring support of community to anyone experiencing a health crisis.” This pilot program will expand HCK’s offerings to provide workshops on healthy eating and cooking. Classes will be free for clients and open to the public on a sliding payment scale. Students will leave the class empowered to make healthier decisions in their lifestyle and diet, and armed with new recipes, shopping lists, tip sheets and resources for maximizing use of FoodShare/QUEST and other benefits. The pilot will offer at least six classes with a goal to educate 250 community members. Funding will support curriculum development, class equipment, student manuals, marketing and food costs. 

Centro Hispano of Dane County: The Earth Made My Lunch $3,950

Centro Hispano ensures “Latino families can aspire upward, to reach their personal goals and dreams because they feel engaged and strengthened with the tools for success.” The Earth Made My Lunch is designed to accompany their adult-geared Let’s Get Healthy This Summer program related to food, nutrition, herbal medicine, and traditional food preparation. Geared for youth ages 2-12 years, The Earth Made My Lunch will “influence eating behaviors that are rooted in community values, food traditions, and culturally-appropriate definitions of health among Latino youth.” Their plan is threefold: teach youth about their local food system using a cultural lens, improve youth attitudes towards fruits and vegetables by modeling eating behaviors they can implement at home, and create spaces where families can eat and cook together in conjunction with their summer adult program. All program activities will take place in the garden, “where children will be exposed to home gardening, composting, [building] a small greenhouse, and cooking activities in the outdoorkitchen.” Funding supports stipends for the community wellness workers, garden supplies, ingredients for snack preparation, and educational materials.

Healthy Food For All: Farm Surplus Field Gleaning $3,320

“Healthy Food for All (HFFA) is a community-based, grassroots project to ensure all Dane County children and families can access affordable, healthy and culturally appropriate food to achieve better health outcomes and a higher quality of life.” Their Farm Surplus Field Gleaning project will train 20 gleaning crew volunteers to recover local produce from 10 area donor farms, allowing HFFA to receive and distribute at least 635 pounds of fresh, local produce weekly to families in need throughout Dane County. Expanding their food recovery offerings will increase the total volume of produce available and offer more consistent delivery to all locations served. Funding will support two gleaning interns who will lead the volunteer crews, the receiving clerk at FEED Kitchen, transportation costs and field gleaning supplies.  

Community Groundworks: Gardening for Good 2.0 $3,300

Community GroundWorks connects people to nature and local food. “Each week G4G supports 20 adults with developmental disabilities, plus 20 support staff, volunteers and community gardeners who gather together for an evening of expressive arts, shared gardening, socializing and healthy eating.” Expansion will offer the program two days a week instead of one, allowing G4G to serve new neighbors, including veterans. Weekly workshops teach about bird-watching, prairie plants, tree-planting, cooking in the garden, and planting/harvesting techniques; which increases personal well-being, social capital, and connections among residents across abilities and ages. Funding provides plants, seeds, ingredients and project supplies, plot fees, a stipend for the facilitator, and printing a commemorative yearbook/calendar of stories for participants and program supporters. 

Goodman Community Center: TEENworks Healthy Elementary Snack $3,078

“The Goodman Community Center (GCC) serves 40,000 people a year through a variety of programs from 3K to older adults with healthy food, quality activities and community engagement. ...TEENworks (Teen Education and Employment Network) strengthens lives and secures futures by providing education and employment opportunities for youth.” Students in the TEENworks program work in the Seed to Table program, an alternative high school program that provides employment education through urban agriculture, local food economies, and preparing seasonal meals. The program is expanding their healthy snack program, providing educational and employment opportunities for youth with barriers while also making healthy and nutritious snacks for elementary school children. Currently, the pilot allows for four youth with supervision to work a two-hour shift once per week preparing snacks for students at Sandburg Elementary, and expansion will allow for more high-school youth to participate in making the snacks and offering the program at Emerson Elementary and Lowell Elementary as well. As part of the program and its expansion, TEENworks youth will also be able to provide a nutrition curriculum and hands-on learning opportunities to participating elementary schools twice per year. Funding will provide for snack ingredients and youth worker salaries. 

Bayview Foundation: Farm Fresh Snacks and Cooking Program $2,650

Bayview Foundation, Inc. provides housing to 277 low-income residents, primarily immigrants and refugees from ten countries. Last year, CRF awarded funding for increasing access to healthy, fresh, culturally appropriate food choices and educational activities; incorporating healthy, farm-fresh snacks prepared by youth into their after school and summer camp programs; creating a vegetable gardening camp for neighborhood teens that provides fresh product to Bayview’s food pantry; starting a community meals program for Bayview families; and partnering with the University of Wisconsin’s Food Recovery Network to provide nourishing meals for families. Outcomes included serving 225 pounds of locally grown produce in afterschool and summer programs, recruiting 50 neighborhood children to their gardening, food literacy, and healthy eating programs, and serving 144 Bayview family members culturally appropriate dinners prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. A funding extension will allow for continuing and expanding upon the farm fresh snacks and cooking program: increasing youth opportunities to prepare and serve healthy snacks and meals for their peers and families. Funding will specifically support the costs for Bayview’s membership in a CSA and providing a facilitator for the program. 

The First Tee of South Central Wisconsin: Afterschool Tutoring by The First Tee $2,500

The First Tee (TFT) impacts “the lives of young people and their families by providing educational programs for youth that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.” They are also beginning to provide after-school tutoring, recreation, and character development programs for youth enrolled in the elementary and middle schools near the Cherokee Country Club. The tutoring program will serve 48 youth from the north side of Madison, and students who meet federal poverty guidelines will receive scholarships to attend. TFT’s tutoring program will provide comprehensive reading lessons and life-skills mentoring in honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance, confidence, courtesy, responsibility, judgment, and being a good sport. TFT will use the Al Arnold Reading Program, a successful tool to assist children with dyslexia. Funding will support staffing for the reading program and the parent open house. 

Lowell Community Organization: Centennial Garden $2,000

As part of Lowell Elementary School’s Centennial Campaign to add green space and nature-based areas to their urban, mostly asphalt campus, the Centennial Garden project will relocate and expand the existing school garden to improve safety, increase sunlight access, and foster better opportunities to develop garden education programming that aligns with the district’s CORE curriculum. The new garden will include garden beds for general use and for each grade level to use the garden at least once each spring and fall, seating, and means to use the garden as a healing space with a nature-based sensory environment for students with different abilities. Funding will provide wood for the beds, corner posts, ground cover, tools, and earth-moving as part of the relocation.

Vera Court Neighborhood Center: Nutrition and Wellbeing for Seniors $2,000

Vera Court Neighborhood Center includes two centers: Vera Court and Bridge Lake Point Waunona Neighborhood Center (BLW), as well as the Latino Academy of Workforce Development. BLW’s Senior Program “is a year-round educational, community building program serving seniors, caregivers, and seniors’ family members.” The program serves at least 300 seniors ages 50+ with a target population primarily from households in the BLW neighborhood and the surrounding areas of Madison’s south side that are largely low-income and seniors of color, and including adults with diverse abilities. Services both at the center and in-home include weekly community lunches and workshops; a mobile food pantry; access to a social worker; access to a computer lab, phone and fax; a nutrition club; and enrichment clubs such as Spanish classes, bingo and zumba. Programs have been developed by participant request, and senior participants are engagedin the operations (helping in the food pantry, providing reception services, tutoring children, etc.). CRF funding will support meals prepared by the participants for the weekly community lunches and workshops. 

Aldo Leopold Nature Center: The Campfire Fund Summer Camp Scholarship Program with Gardening Naturally Component $1,744 

Aldo Leopold Nature Center (ALNC) promotes environmental education in the spirit of Aldo Leopold. The Gardening Naturally Project provides opportunities to plan, prepare, plant, maintain and harvest fruits and vegetables from an organic garden for economically disadvantaged children during summer camp. The Campfire Fund provides no-cost scholarships to participate, with a goal to provide 20 economically disadvantaged children “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend outdoor adventure summer camps at ALNC.” Funding will support program direction, new development, garden management, and supplies and materials. 

Lussier Community Education Center: Summer Bounty, Full Bellies $1,552

“The Lussier Community Education Center (LCEC) is an innovative, intergenerational, green-built community education center open to the public on the west side of Madison.” In its pilot phase with CRF funding, Summer Bounty, Full Bellies taught 37 elementary school summer campers to grow fresh produce and 28 middle school campers to use pantry staples to prepare the produce, and provided 36 families with low income those prepared foods “to make up for the absence of the school meal program during the summer months.” This additional year of CRF support will allow for LCEC to improve the sustainability of the program, which provides weekly “meal boosts” to families with low income featuring the produce grown by the elementary school campers plus foods selected and prepared by the middle school campers using MyPlate as a guide. Families take food home in a thermal tote that includes a brief newsletter about the children’s garden experiences and simple, culturally-appropriate recipes. Funding supports staple foods, take-home containers, and program stipends and time. 

Red Caboose School Age Program: Camp Caboose’s “Breakfast Club” $1,500 FULL

Red Caboose 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 Breakfast Club provides an opportunity for their campers to be directly involved in the planning, preparation, service and consumption of fresh, healthy meals created from local, in-season foods sourced from the Marquette Elementary garden that Camp Caboose will maintain, Madison Farmers’ Markets, the Co-op and Community Shared Agriculture (CSA). Breakfasts will be served to both campers and their families. Funds will purchase two large CSA shares, a field trip to a local CSA farm, and nine field trips to the Madison Farmers’ Market and/or Willy East.

Georgia O’Keefe Middle School PTG: Peace Garden $1,000

In an effort to reduce stress and improve focus for all students, especially those who may not get as much sleep, have as much food access as their peers or have special needs, Georgia O’Keefe Middle School’s PTG will create a garden space for students to experience some peace and quiet. The Peace Garden will be “a place for kids to go during the day when they need a break from school. It will be a supervised, natural space to sit, read, journal or just get close to nature,” with plants that are suitable for both touching and smelling for a sensory experience. Funding will support students, staff and volunteers rehabilitating existing garden space; temporary fencing for the rehabilitation; mulch, washed sand, plants and shrubs; and two recycled plastic park benches. 

Georgia O’Keefe Middle School PTG: Clean, COLD Water for All! $1,456

The Parent Teacher Group (PTG) at Georgia O’Keefe Middle School wishes to reduce the use of disposable bottled water in their school and to increase the consumption of water among youth. Their effort to ensure that students and staff have “nice, cool clean water to drink throughout the day” includes raising funds to replace all existing water stations with five newer ones that allow for refilling water bottles. The PTG’s goal is to “have a reusable water bottle in the hands of every kid and staff member to reduce the use of disposable bottles currently being used” and to monitor bottle refills in relation to the amount of fruit juices and other beverages sold on school premises. Funding will purchase 500 20 ounce BPA-free, US-made water bottles to support the initiative, and offset a portion of the costs for one of the new water stations. 

Thank you

Special thanks to our Board of Directors for continuing to allocate funding for this important community program, and to our 2017 Community Reinvestment Fund Grant Committee: gianofer fields, Willy Street Co-op Media & Advocacy Coordinator (staff); Kyle Freund, Owner-at-Large; Meghan Gauger, Owner-at-Large; Michael Gay, Owner-at-Large; Kirsten Moore, Willy Street Co-op Director of Cooperative Services (staff); and Jess Pernsteiner, Board Director. Congratulations to all the organizations! An informal reception for grant recipients to network and share their projects will be held on Monday, May 22nd from 6:00-8:00pm in Willy East’s Community Room. 

[Quotations in the summaries are directly taken from the recipient’s proposals.]