75th Anniversary Grant #12: Together We Thrive

Madison Community Foundation awarded a $1.1 million challenge grant to Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools to grow and sustain the Madison Metropolitan School District’s (MMSD) Community Schools Initiative, a collaborative educational model that closes opportunity gaps through family and community engagement.

This is the last of 12 major grants MCF made during its 75th Anniversary Year of Giving. To date, this grant is the largest in the organization’s history.

Watch this video to learn more about the Madison Metropolitan School District Community Schools Initiative.

Community Schools, currently operating at Leopold and Mendota elementary schools, are a collective strategy to transform schools into a place where students, families, staff, and the surrounding community can work together to ensure every student can be successful. Community Schools focus on the whole child by providing academic support, social and emotional learning, health and wellness, family and community engagement, and a safe and supportive climate. Community Schools will complement existing community resources by providing those services where families and children are every day.

The Community Schools initiative is a national educational model and a key strategic initiative for the school district launched in 2015 with a $300,000 grant from MCF. The initial grant funded strategic planning and the first two staff positions at Leopold and Mendota. An evaluation of the first academic year of operation by the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research identified best practices and recommendations that will be used to advance the initiative. 

The latest grant will help develop infrastructure, programming and fundraising capacity for additional Madison schools over the next five years. Funds will be awarded as a one-to-one challenge grant, with distributions of $220,000 per year, from 2019-2023.

Expected outcomes include increases in academic achievement, attendance, graduation rates, parental involvement, and community partnerships and engagement. Decreases in behavioral references and chronic absenteeism are also expected.

Children enjoy the soccer field at Leopold Elementary, one of two Community Schools in the Madison school district.

“Madison Community Foundation believes public schools are our most important community asset,” said Bob Sorge, President. “We can think of no more important investment in our community at this time than innovative and sustainable approaches to enhancing the achievement of all of our students.”

“We are honored and humbled by the opportunity that Madison Community Foundation has given us through this extraordinary challenge grant,” said Melinda Heinritz, Executive Director, Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools. “We look forward to partnering with the Madison Metropolitan School District to meet this challenge and, through the Community Schools initiative, deliver greater resources to our schools, our students and our families.”

“We are so energized and grateful for this incredible support from Madison Community Foundation,” said Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. “Community Schools build on the strengths of our school communities and prepare our students to excel in the classroom. This unprecedented grant will make more community schools a reality and will directly impact the futures of youth in our community.”

The “Together We Thrive” grant was announced at MCF’s annual dinner Madison Gives on May 17. During the 75th Anniversary Year of Giving, MCF awarded $2 million in grants to support and celebrate the Madison area’s most unique natural and cultural assets.

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