November 14, 2018

Who Knew? Things I Learned From our Recent Community Impact Grant Proposals

Tom Linfield

Each fall more than 80 agencies apply for a grant from Madison Community Foundation's Community Impact Fund. This year, MCF asked 28 of those agencies to submit a full proposal.  Reading the applications is always a fascinating experience—each project illuminated through a five-page proposal that expresses research, need, opportunities, and planned impact.

Grant applications expose reviewers to a rich array of facts, some heartbreaking and some encouraging. As a huge fan of Harper’s Index, the long-running list of fascinating data in every issue of Harper’s Magazine, I decided to try something similar, gleaning 19 facts from the many submitted proposals and staff research during the review process.

We will consider this information as our Grantmaking Committee and Board of Governors distribute more than $800,000 in remaining 2018 grantmaking dollars.

1. Diapers cannot be purchased with food stamps, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children Food and Nutrition Service), or any other government-sponsored benefit. One third of American families experience economic difficulty buying diapers.

2. Children in the United States spend less time outside than prison inmates. Inmates are guaranteed two hours of outdoor time daily, whereas one in two children are outside for less than an hour.

3. Between 2000 and 2006, only 0.6 percent of 20,923 English Language Learners in Wisconsin technical colleges completed a certificate or degree program.

4. The National Institutes of Health estimates that dyslexia affects 17 percent of the population, and is hereditary.

5. The Big Share, an online giving day run by Community Shares to support its 70 member organizations, has raised $1.3 million and reached 382,000 individuals through social media in four years.

6. Barnum and Bailey’s “Greatest Show on Earth” brought circus arts to America in the 1880s.

7. In Dane County, 10.9 percent of county residents (58,470 people) live in poverty.

8. The 65 and over population of Madison is 9.6 percent of the total population and is expected to double within the next 12 years.

9. In 2015, Wisconsin had only 918 computer science graduates to fill 7,992 open computing jobs. Only one in ten K-12 schools teach computer science courses and only 68 schools in Wisconsin offer AP Computer Science courses.

10. Every year, the Madison Public Library serves two million visitors, circulates 3.6 million materials, and hosts 3,700 free classes and events.

11. In Dane County, 12 percent of children over age five live in homes where a language other than English is spoken. 

12. During the 2013-14 school year, only 13 percent of Madison Memorial High School’s African American students tested proficient in reading, compared to 51 percent of white students.

13. In its inaugural year, Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison gathered, refurbished and distributed 1,500 free bikes to area families.

14. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in every 700 babies born in the U.S. each year has Down Syndrome, making it the leading cause of developmental disabilities in the world. In its first year, Gigi’s Playhouse served 1,700 families of people living with Down Syndrome, more than tripling their projections.

15. In the past 20 years, Goodman Community Center has grown from serving 6,500 to 29,000 users annually, and from distributing 13,500 to 86,000 children’s meals.

16. Only 31 percent of the Madison School District’s African American students take the ACT college preparatory exam, compared to 63 percent of their white peers.

17. The Hmong population in Wisconsin has twice the rate of poverty (for all age groups) compared to the state population.

18. Since opening in 2010, the Madison Children’s Museum has served more than 1.6 million visitors.

19. Of the 3,370 people served by at least one night by a Dane County homeless shelter program each year, 45 percent are families.

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