75th Anniversary Grant #10: Phoenix from the Ashes

Madison Community Foundation announces a $75,000 grant titled Phoenix from the Ashes, a unique partnership with Madison Parks Department, Madison Arts Commission, and Wisconsin Urban Wood to reclaim ash trees decimated by emerald ash borer infestation.

The trees, which are no longer infected once felled, will be milled and made available to local nonprofits for construction projects, high schools for class instruction, and artists for sculptures and installations.

The partners will salvage and transform quality logs and trunks into lumber, art, furniture, and more. Projects include:

  • Ten local artists will receive $1,500 grants from Madison Arts Commission and will coordinate with The Wood Cycle of Wisconsin, a member of the Wisconsin Urban Wood coalition, to source material.
  • Area nonprofits and organizations working on capital campaigns may receive funding to purchase milled ash and furniture. Participating nonprofits include Operation Fresh Start, Madison Public Library Pinney Branch, Schumacher Farm Park, and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.
  • Woodworking programs at East and West High schools will receive donated logs and lumber for students to learn carpentry and craftsmanship.
  • Working with the Wisconsin Urban Wood coalition, Madison Community Foundation will commission needed furniture for nonprofits throughout Dane County.
  • Three youth internships will be created to work on the ash reclamation. Madison Arts Commission will hire one intern to help run the grant program, and The Wood Cycle of Wisconsin will hire two Operation Fresh Start students as interns to learn urban tree reclamation and carpentry.
  • Artists and students will exhibit their work at Overture Center’s Playhouse Gallery (date TBD).

"Recycling felled ash is not only responsible forest stewardship, but also can reduce the cost of their disposal, and help mitigate the community’s feelings over losing so many beloved trees,” says Karin Wolf, Arts Program Administrator at City of Madison. “Through MCF’s generous re-grant opportunity, the Madison Arts Commission intends to introduce ten proficient local artists to demonstrate the potential of using urban wood to make everything from functional objects to fine art. Phoenix from the Ashes will undoubtedly stimulate great discussion about urban wood re-use and help us streamline systems to connect arborists, sawmills, and manufacturers with design professionals charged with creating our public spaces.”

Eric Knepp, Superintendent of Madison Parks Department, says, “Madison Parks is committed to creative partnerships and this one with Madison Community Foundation, Madison Arts Commission and Wisconsin Urban Wood is exactly that. Building off a successful partnership with Wisconsin Urban Wood and The Wood Cycle of Wisconsin, this grant allows our community to upcycle ash trees felled due to EAB in creative ways. This partnership will have a real impact in our community and is a true win-win-win.”

“Phoenix from the Ashes is a model of effective collaboration that builds on Madison’s legacy as a green city with forward-thinking leadership,” says Madison Community Foundation President Bob Sorge. “While the emerald ash borer’s impact on our city’s tree canopy is devastating, our community now has an uplifting story of the social, economic and ecological benefits of conservation and renewal.”

Giving at MCF

We're always here to help you support the causes you care about most now and forever.


Gift & Estate Planning

Achieve your charitable giving goals through your will or estate plan.

Learn more about gift & estate planning