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FY 2006 Community Reinvestment Fund Awards

The Owner Relations Committee sifted carefully through a total of 24 grant applications from outstanding Madison and Dane County community organizations this year.  All vying for support from Willy Street Co-op's abandoned equity account, the Community Reinvestment Fund exists to infuse our community’s organizations with needed resources to serve our neighborhood citizens as quickly and directly as possible. In 2006, a total of 12 organizations were finally selected to receive a total of $13,500, the largest amount awarded from this fund in our Co-op's history. Here is a short synopsis on the individual awards and the programs they support.

Community Action Coalition—$1,000
Already serving low-income populations throughout Madison and Dane County, CAC will utilize this grant during the summer of 2006, primarily to fund connectivity with Hmong and Spanish-speaking growers. By providing translation services for them and from them, organizers are working to foster wider participation in CAC programs and to learn from participants as well. Through their existing Community Gardens Programs, funding will be used to hire translators for orientations, trainings, special events and to convert written materials (newsletters, brochures and program literature).

Community Connections—$1,500
This emerging, all-volunteer organization of Madison area educators and sustainability activists has been meeting with inmates of the Oak Hill Correctional Institution, located in Oregon, WI, for two years in order to provide education, parenting and literacy services with an emphasis on sustainable food production. One element of their programming includes a "Film Group" that meets regularly to view and discuss films exploring healthy and sustainable communities. This funding will be used in the coming year to develop new curriculum for the Food and Health as Essential Foundations for Thriving Communities program, which seeks to expand by featuring resources and speakers from local community garden projects, farmers' markets and CSAs. 

Cornucopia Institute—$850
Formed solely to monitor and foster sustainable organic practices, this Northern Wisconsin-based, national organization has already provided a substantial level of support to the industry in Wisconsin and across the United States. Founded in 2004, Cornucopia’s membership is comprised largely of organic farmers and their urban/organic consumer allies. Planning to continue advocating for family farmers and organic consumers, Cornucopia relies largely on Foundation and Cooperative grants to fund their tireless organic advocacy services in Washington DC and throughout the countryside.

Dane County Timebank—$1,000
Born from the national organization, Time Dollar Institute, a new local adaptation, Dane County Timebank, is already providing a "pay it forward" approach to bartering and community building. "Service credits" or "time banking" is an asset-based approach to social welfare among an open and voluntary membership. In the first 4 months of operation, organizers reported more than 150 members logged over 360 hours of exchange. This funding will be used to supplement programming focused on wellness, farm and garden outreach efforts through the current growing season.

Friends of Troy Gardens—$1,425
Involving children throughout the entire cycle of food production, the "Kids' Gardening Program" and "Farm and Field Program" at Troy Gardens on Madison's northside have been providing food, ecology and wellness education for Madison's children for three years. A new component being introduced this year is intended to build leadership skills for participants through a facilitated mentoring program. Teens in the "Farm and Field Program" will be matched with younger participants in the "Kids Gardening Program" to share lessons and experiences surrounding the care of soil,plants, garden prairie and woodlands.

Kennedy Heights N.A.—$675
On May 6th, 2006, Kennedy Heights Neighborhood Association will celebrate it's 20th Anniversary with a "Many Cultures – One Community" Festival. Included in the festival, organizers will be featuring a food demonstration area geared toward introducing and promoting traditional foods and recipes among their ethnically diverse residents. Six presenters have been invited to demonstrate their epicurean creations and share samples with the assistance of a folklorist who will facilitate the presentation and encourage discussion between the audience and presenters.

Malcolm Shabazz City High School—$900
Students in the "Play with your Food: Discovering the Art of Cooking" class are part of a five-course, service learning project encouraging eco-leadership for students.  Focusing on stream restoration and organic food harvesting and preparation, this funding will be used to support their field trip to a Vernon County organic farm where students will be working for one week with the farm’s owner. The same students will use the remaining money to plan, purchase and prepare two community lunches at their High School on Madison's near northeast side.

Olbrich Children's Garden—$850
The Children’s Garden program provides nine weeks of sustainable gardening, nutrition and ecology education to children from the Madison Metropolitan School District each summer.  After spending the summer learning each component of the growing cycle, the program culminates with a Harvest Fest in autumn.  Harvest Fest helps solidify their understanding of newly learned concepts.  This grant will secure busing for hundreds of students from around the city who would otherwise lack transportation to the Fest in 2006.

Partner Shares Program—$1,400
By providing ongoing support to area, low-income residents, Partner Shares Program (PSP) exists to introduce and promote participation in Wisconsin’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and resources. Their annual Empty Bowls Fundraiser raises a major portion of the funding for PSP and for Community Meals (a near-eastside Madison organization serving thousands of free meals each year). Some of this funding will assist organizers this year in purchasing the clay needed to construct the bowls, which are crafted by area high school students and volunteer artists.  Additionally, funds will be used for the coming year's PSP Assistance Fund, used to provide assistance for low-income households to join CSA’s.

Project Home$1,250
Prairie Crossing in Madison’s Allied Drive neighborhood is home to a large percentage of Madison’s most resource-challenged citizens. Reportedly, 60% of the residents there live at or below the County Median Income Level, but this part of our community has yet to be embraced by some of the city’s more progressive programs. Project Home seeks to increase stability, security and overall well-being in this part of our community by creating a Community Garden. Residents will be invited to begin growing their own nutritious foods on the site, which will also become a location for providing eco-programs for neighborhood children. Specifically, this funding will be used to install a metered and efficient watering system, purchase necessary gardening tools and supplies and to create and implement safety and security measures.

REAP Food Group—$1,850
Organizers of Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch Program and REAP Food Group expect to expand their vital programs to two additional schools in the Madison area in the coming year.  Costs associated with the program include those for the “Farmer-Educator” Program including student food costs and field trips.  This funding is expected to offset the cost of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables for classroom activities and to subsidize field trips to participating farms in southern Wisconsin.

WI Partners for SustainAbility—$800
Founders of the Dane County Buy Local Initiative, WiscPSA plans to relay the message of local sustainability to more members of our community with the creation of a discussion course: Conscious Consumer. Slated to begin in the Fall of 2006, the course will provide a platform to explore more local consumer choices for food, clothing and other goods. Specifically, this grant will be used to research and finalize topics and to select reading materials most relevant to the course.