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Madison Community Foundation marks 75th year with $1.1 million Madison schools grant
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Madison Community Foundation marks 75th year with $1.1 million Madison schools grant

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The Madison Community Foundation awarded the largest grant in its history — up to $1.1 million — Thursday for a Madison School District initiative aimed at offering wrap-around services to students and their families.

The grant to the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools caps off a year-long, $2 million grant spree to commemorate the foundation’s 75th anniversary. The final grant — to be distributed over five years on a one-to-one match with funds raised by the recipient — nearly doubles the original donation the foundation planned to award.

About $1 million in awards were distributed over the past 12 months to organizations that foundation President Bob Sorge said are working to improve the things that make Madison unique.

“What was so gratifying about (choosing recipients) is that we were really able to look at what makes this place special,” Sorge said.

For its final award of the 12-month period, the foundation offered a $1.1 million challenge grant to the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools to expand the Madison School District’s Community Schools initiative.

Currently in use at Leopold and Mendota elementary schools, the Community Schools model creates a hub for resources like health care, tutoring, nutrition, leadership opportunities for parents and more.

“This unprecedented grant will make more community schools a reality and will directly impact the futures of youth in our community,” Superintendent Jen Cheatham said in a statement.

The school district initiative was launched in 2015 with support from a $300,000 grant from the foundation.

The new challenge grant will be disbursed over five years, starting next year, with distributions of $220,000 each year, so long as the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools raises the same amount of money from other donations.

The foundation awarded 11 other sets of grants over the year:

  • The Nolen Waterfront project received $25,500 to conduct a feasibility study for a roof-deck park over John Nolen Drive to connect Monona Terrace to Law Park. The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters also received $25,000 for an arts and design project to imagine Madison 75 years in the future. The pair of grants were denoted as the “Evolution Madison” grant.
  • The Clean Lakes Alliance received $75,000 to catalog the needs of all 25 beaches in the Madison area. A conceptual design contest for Warner Beach and a sandcastle-building contest were also included.
  • Three grants totaling $75,000 were awarded to mark the 100th anniversary of the state Capitol’s completion. The grants funded the “Summer Thriller” concert for Concerts on the Square, varied programming at Madison Children’s Museum including a LEGO replica of the building, and an exhibition at the Overture Center featuring artwork inspired by the Capitol.
  • The Bubbler, a Madison Public Library program to foster creativity with arts and electronics, was awarded $55,000 to expand to 13 community centers in the area. The Bubbler will offer different “maker kits” to the community centers that include materials like craft supplies and electronics to use in classes for children.
  • The “I am Madison” project, through nonprofit multimedia news site Madison365, received $82,000 to offer internships to 26 young journalists of color to document communities in Madison.
  • UW-Madison’s Office of American Indian Curriculum in the School of Education received $65,000 to establish Native American heritage sites with educational materials in the area.
  • Shine On Madison, a new seasonal celebration in Downtown Madison, received $65,000 to create the six-week event that ran from Nov. 18 to Jan 7.
  • Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison received $84,200 to organize Mad About Bikes, a program with a giveaway of 1,100 bicycles, public bike repair stations, bike-repair internships for community youth, starter bikes for new riders, and safety and repair training for all ages and skill levels.
  • The YWCA Madison coordinated a $75,000 grant to support professional development and leadership training for 24 women nominated by nonprofit organizations.
  • The Madison Parks Department, Madison Arts Commission and Wisconsin Urban Wood received $75,000 to partner on a project to reclaim wood from ash trees that had been decimated by the emerald ash borer infestation.
  • Groups supporting the revitalization of Penn Park on Madison’s South Side received $70,000. The funds will be used to support equipment and permanent signs for the Southside Raiders sports and development program for children, a community celebration, new recreation equipment and interpretive signs that highlight the park’s history.

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