The Community Reinvestment Fund is a program made possible by Co-op Owners who leave the cooperative and either choose to donate or simply abandon their Owner equity. Each year, we tally all the equity funds abandoned and deposit them in our charitable account at the Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation. Then, our Board allocates a portion of the funds annually to provide grants to nonprofits and cooperative businesses in our community through a competitive application process. Grant applications are evaluated by a committee comprised of Co-op employees, Board members, and Owners-at-large, and then the recommendations for grant funding are approved by the Board of Directors. Twenty-one organizations applied for a total of $63,878 in funding from this year’s Community Reinvestment Fund grant program, and with $25,000 allocated, we are pleased to announce the 10 organizations awarded grants for 2018.
Bayview Foundation: Kids Cook, $2,550
Last year, the Co-op funded Bayview Foundation’s Farm Fresh Snack and Cooking Club, which the Foundation believes has “shifted the way Bayview’s summer camp and after school programs cook with youth participants.” The Kids Cook program expands on the first year, since they learned “youth are excited about creating healthy snacks from fresh produce, and are much more willing to try new foods.” Kids Cook will make a stronger link between their gardens for kids and teens and their after-school and summer cooking programs by expanding the amount of produce grown in the gardens, offering “guest chef” and elementary student mentorship opportunities to high school participants, and teaching elementary students to become garden tour guides. Intended outcomes include serving 480 culturally appropriate snacks to youth, involving 50 children in food education programming, and increasing cross-generational learning and teaching among high school and elementary youth. The award provides for membership to a FairShare CSA Coalition farm (CSA is an acronym for “Community Shared Agriculture”), and a food literacy and sustainable agriculture facilitator.
Briarpatch Youth Services: Madison Street Team—Northport $3,500
Madison Street Teams “develop pride in community and provide 14-15-year-old youth with a first time employment experience… [addressing] one of the correlates of delinquency and [helping] prevent at-risk youth from entering the juvenile justice system.” Briarpatch Youth Services plans to extend the program into Madison’s north side. Youth hired to participate in the street team will complete community-selected service projects such as community garden maintenance, clothing and food drives, playground development, facilitating community events and/or more. Approximately 20 at-risk youth will “receive over 20 hours of training, including 8 hours of employment readiness training, 8 hours of financial literacy training from UW Credit Union, and 4 hours of team building and leadership development.” Funds support providing wages to participants and program snacks and supplies.
Centro Hispano Dane County: Mercadito, $2,900
Centro’s weekly farmer’s market, Mercadito, not only provides nutritious foods, but also serves as space for Madison’s south side residents to “share their cultural heritage and traditions,” by mimicking markets in Latin America, Bhutan, and Laos. Launched in 2015 as part of Centro’s Wellness Initiative, Mercadito “is focused on creating a holistic approach to food and nutrition by incorporating community values, food traditions and culturally appropriate definitions of health among the Latinx community into the market.” The market also accepts FoodShare/QUEST (SNAP) and is a Double Dollars participating market. This year, Mercadito is expanding their efforts to offer food tastings, nutrition and health guidance, and live cooking demonstrations. The Community Reinvestment Fund will provide cooking materials and ingredients, piñatas, entertainment, marketing, permits, program supplies, stipends for Centro’s cooperatively organized community health workers, and support funding for their market manager.
Elvehjem Elementary School: Outdoor Classroom and Gardener in Residence Program, $2,350
The school garden at Elvehjem Elementary School is “an incredible resource for students, but [is] not being fully utilized by teachers who lack the resources, time, and knowledge to fully incorporate the [garden] into their curriculum.” Participation in Community Groundworks’ Gardener in Residence Program will allow for Elvehjem Elementary School to create a Garden Steering Committee and have a resident gardener who will develop, coordinate, and manage their school garden as well as teach weekly garden classes for students and school support staff so that the garden can become a learning environment. Classes will include “daily tastings, outdoor cooking, a fall farmers’ market, and opportunities to help with seasonal garden maintenance.” Five hundred students will participate in the program alongside the resident gardener, teachers, and parent volunteers. The award supports the gardener-in-residence and provides gardening and kitchen tools, products for daily tastings, and garden team member and teacher participation in the Growing Minds course at Troy Gardens.
FairShare CSA Coalition: Targeted Partner Shares Program Outreach, $3,000
In 2017, FairShare CSA Coalition evaluated their Partner Shares program, which subsidizes CSA farm share purchases for people with low income, to determine who was most benefiting from the program and which communities or regions have not historically participated in the program. Now FairShare seeks to pilot modifications to CSA shares and the Partner Shares program in those areas identified as underserved by the study. The goal is to “better meet the needs of, and reduce barriers for participation in targeted low food access households,” by engaging community organization partners in referring clients to CSA and Partner Shares, providing sign-up materials and hosting information sessions, hiring an intern to coordinate members of the community interested in developing projects to address specific community needs and barriers to participation, and translate materials into languages for specific communities. In addition to already having materials in English and Spanish, FairShare has identified Chinese and Russian as important to the project and possibly other languages as well. Funds will support the intern and provide for the costs of translating materials.
Freewheel Community Bike Shop: Classroom Programming, $2,862
Founded in 2003, Freewheel promotes bicycling and reusing by creating community space to share bicycle tools, skills, knowledge, and maintenance assistance. They are now seeking to expand their capacity to offer both on-site and off-site maintenance classes in the greater Madison area. Expansion will include being able to pay employees, in addition to continued reliance on volunteer support, as well as the ability to offer free bicycle repair clinics at local events throughout the area. Expansion efforts will also support the ability for Freewheel to provide more free bikes, parts, and locks to the community. The Community Reinvestment Fund will be used to support the mechanic instructors and providing parts for this calendar year.
Lake View Elementary: Restoring the Lake View Great Green Growing Gardens, $470
Lake View Elementary School has a garden with twelve raised garden beds as part of their outdoor classroom education program. “Over the years, the elements have significantly lowered the height of the soil and impacted the health of the beds.” The school is now planning a soil restoration project and will work with their students to reinvigorate the garden beds through a school lunch composting project, adding activated Purple Cow organic soil to the beds, involving students in planning the garden beds, working with Plant Dane to pick up plants from the Department of Correction School Program’s prison farm, and working with community volunteers to teach the students to retain soil health during winter. Funds will be used to purchase the Purple Cow organic soil.
Lussier Community Education Center: Hands-On Farm-Fresh Education and Eating, $2,568
Lussier Community Education Center (LCEC) has received past Community Reinvestment Fund grants to establish their Summer Bounty 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. This year, LCEC is planning a new program, Hands-On Farm-Fresh, which will support their after-school meal program that is prepared and served by young adults with disabilities in a social enterprise partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District and Second Harvest’s Kids Café program. “On Thursdays and Fridays during the school year and at snack time in the summer Hands-On Farm-Fresh will incorporate CSA produce from Two Good Farms… and bring a UW-Madison dietetics intern to the LCEC to plan meals and learning opportunities for kids.” When meal plans are made, a rotating group of young people will be engaged in the preparation. “Hands-On Farm-Fresh snacks will be shared with kids at the Center during the day, while Summer Bounty ‘meal-boosts’ will go home with families.” The award will purchase two CSA shares and fresh produce after the CSA season is over, provide for a dietetics intern, kitchen support and meal service staffing and program oversight.
Theresa Terrace Neighborhood Center: A Farm-to-Table Community Experience, $2,400
It is Theresa Terrace Neighborhood Center’s (TTNC) goal “to increase fresh produce accessibility and education to the children and families using the neighborhood center. The likelihood of residents having accessibility of food directly from a farm, or children seeing where and how produce is grown, is low.” They plan to purchase two shares from a FairShare CSA Coalition farm that includes produce and take-home materials appropriate for children. Produce will be prepared with the children attending their summer camp and they will also learn how the food was grown and why these foods are good for their bodies. Children and families will also take produce and recipes home to prepare. TTNC serves approximately 50 families throughout the summer and fall, and they anticipate that 75% of families will take home produce, recipes, and educational materials. Funds provide the CSA shares, education resources, supplemental food, storage and take home materials, and a field trip to visit the CSA farm.
Wheels for Winners: Beyond Bike Distribution—Bike Repair Project, $2,400
In celebration of their 25th anniversary, Wheels for Winners plans to build on their established Earn a Bike program “by offering free bike repair clinics to help keep our bikes in good working condition for the kids who use them. At these clinics, we will be offering kids locks and helmets to keep them and their bikes safe.” Teaching kids to “fix things like flat tires and chains themselves” will enable their bike program participants to ensure they will be able to use their bikes, and providing helmets and locks, which often go missing, will make riding safer and deter issues with theft. The program will identify community locations to hold free maintenance clinics, acquire the parts and equipment for repair, organize volunteer mechanics, and purchase 40 new locks and helmets for free distribution. Repair clinics will not only serve children who have earned Wheels for Winners bikes, but also any bikes that are presented. They estimate 80 people will attend the clinics for either bike repair themselves, or to find out more about Wheels for Winners, future maintenance opportunities, and the Earn a Bike program. The Community Reinvestment Fund will pay for the helmets and locks, supplies and replacement parts, repair tools and equipment, travel, outside repair support and other repair costs.
The Community Reinvestment Fund would not be possible without the support of our Owners who leave our Co-op and decide to contribute the equity they invested in us to the fund. We appreciate the legacy past Owners leave to the cooperative to support the community. Also, special thanks to our 2018 committee members. This year’s committee included Tina Abert, Owner-at-Large; Kyle Freund, Owner-at-Large; Meghan Gauger, Board Director; Michael Gay, Owner-at-Large; Amanda Ikens, East Owner Resources Coordinator–East; and Kirsten Moore, Cooperative Services Director. If you are interested in serving on this committee, we typically announce any committee openings (when available) in late fall or early winter through the Reader and on our Facebook page.
Thank you for your support, and congratulations to this year’s grant award winners!