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Circus Space 3 (copy)

Madison Circus Space received $50,000 from the Madison Community Foundation for their campaign to build a new space on Winnebago Street.

Tierra Jones, a senior at Sun Prairie High School, always knew she wanted to get into entrepreneurship, but as a kid, wasn’t quite sure how. She did what she could, setting up up a lemonade stand and making and selling bracelets.

But through programs at CEOs of Tomorrow, a social entrepreneurship education organization for kids, Jones has started her own business called Brown Crown, which works to bring awareness to colorism, or discrimination against darker skin tones.

“You can fix problems and also make money. And to me, I love that idea because if you can make money doing something that you actually love, that’s amazing,” Jones said.

Now, she’s happy that CEOs of Tomorrow received a $21,000 grant from the Madison Community Foundation for its “These Teens Mean Busines$” internship program.

“It excites me, because I know what they’re capable of,” Jones said.

Jones was just one of many with good news at a press conference Thursday morning, where the Madison Community Foundation announced $813,000 in grants to 22 area nonprofits.

The foundation will award over $12 million in 2018, including $2.2 million in community impact grants like the ones given out on Thursday, which focus on five areas: learning, community development, arts and culture, environment and organizational capacity building.

The grants support a range of nonprofits that provide a variety of services, from STEM training for kids to bike repair stations to circus space.

“If you want to learn to read, they will teach you. Don’t have any books? They will have a bus that brings books to your community and gives you books for free,” said Tom Linfield, MCF vice president of community impact. “You have dyslexia? They will have a special tutoring program for you.”

Ten of the 22 agencies received their first-ever Madison Community Foundation grant, which Linfield said meant the foundation was supporting "some really enterprising grassroots nonprofits."

Jeff Burkhart, executive director of the Literacy Network, said the $75,000 grant to his organization will help students successfully transition to Madison College and help more non-native speakers earn degrees. The Literacy Network is a nonprofit that helps students get a better grasp on reading, writing speaking and computer skills.

Lucila Polo, a student in Literacy Network citizenship and English classes, spoke about the value of support as she makes her way in Wisconsin as a Mexican immigrant. Learning English isn’t just about the language, but about learning “how to build a community, how to be involved in a society,” she said.

“To build a new life here is kind of difficult, a little bit difficult, but it’s a pleasure and it’s joyful when we find people who can build together with us,” Polo said.

The Groundswell Conservancy received $19,000 with Community Groundworks to assist Hmong farmers at Westport Community farm.

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The Conservancy purchased 10 acres of land that Hmong farmers have been utilizing for 20 years. The grant will help farmers “take control of their destiny on the land,” through long-term leases, the installation of a well and assistance to improve crop productivity, said Jim Welsh, executive director of Groundswell Conservancy.

“We’re working to address some of the obstacles that minority and immigrant farmers face,” Welsh said.

Maeraj Sheikh, director of equity and community engagement at Community GroundWorks, said the grant will advance GroundWorks’ mission for “a world in which all people have access to nourishing, culturally appropriate food.”

Madison Circus Space received $50,000 for their campaign to build a new space on Winnebago Street. That will increase access to circus arts and expand offerings, hopefully including high flying trapeze and trampoline, which are not currently available in Madison, said Stephanie Richards, director of development at Madison Circus Space.

Some of the other grants include:

  • $100,000 to the Goodman Community Center for the center’s expansion. After remodeling the former Madison Brass Works at 214 Waubesa St., adding 30,000 square feet of space, Goodman began renovating their original facilities at 149 Waubesa St. with modifications like more classrooms and a bigger food pantry.
  • $25,000 to the Children’s Dyslexia Center, a Madison-based organization offering tutoring for kids with dyslexia.
  • $46,000 to Maydm, which provides tech training for girls and kids of color, to expand the STEM Immersion Camp and mentoring program

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