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Workers with the Overture Center arrange strands of lights for display in the center's rotunda Nov. 6, 2017. The lights will be first illuminated during the Shine On Madison event kickoff in the city's downtown on Nov. 18. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

The impact of Madison Community Foundation’s work is likely to touch your life in many ways. Since 1942, the foundation has stewarded local, charitable funds for Madison-area individuals, families, community organizations and businesses. Local generosity allows Madison Community Foundation to support meaningful initiatives and connect people for the common good throughout Dane County and beyond. Thoughtful, caring, and forward-thinking neighbors have kept us thriving and growing for more than 75 years!

The communities and causes that receive grants from Madison Community Foundation take on promising new programs, or expand effective ones, in ways that significantly impact this area for the better. In many cases the grants serve as the basis for a new initiative, helping to research viability and set the stage for much larger undertakings. The $1 million gift that started Monona Terrace Convention Center, the $2.5 million that grew our community of libraries, the $1.5 million toward the Yahara Watershed restoration, and the $3 million in gifts to promote and preserve Overture Center's resident art groups are just a few prime examples.

To call attention to our community’s generosity and the impact of our donors, Madison Community Foundation is marking its 75th anniversary with a Year of Giving. Each month from May 2017 through April 2018, the foundation is awarding special anniversary grants, which will total $1 million.

So far the announced grants have supported a visionary idea to reimagine the Lake Monona waterfront area currently called Law Park, funded Clean Lakes Alliance beach studies throughout the Yahara watershed, expanded Madison Public Library’s innovative Bubbler program, provided internships for young reporters and photographers from Madison365, and supported the work of Native American scholars to develop educational materials for area students.

Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on!” As a catalyst for creativity, Madison Community Foundation is providing a wonderful opportunity to shine a light on downtown Madison from Nov. 18 to Jan. 7. This month’s Shine on Madison grant brings downtown streets to new life during our long, dark winter nights with special light displays around the Capitol Square and down State Street. Downtown is a fantastic destination to explore, cultivate the artist within, sample some of the specialty foods and beverages that make Madison unique, and support local businesses. Please join us on Nov. 18 at 6:08 p.m. (our area code) as the downtown glows with amazing light for the very first time! (Look for details at

I believe in taking an active role in causes I support and I look at each gift as an investment in the future. Madison Community Foundation is a place that helps make dreams come true for organizations throughout our community. Learn more about Madison Community Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Year of Giving at

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Diane Ballweg is president of Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation and chair of the board of the Madison Community Foundation.

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