Introducing JustDane: A Familiar Organization With a New Name

JustDane logo
“JustDane's new logo is a reflection of our mission and values,” explains Becca Bryant of Urban Root Creative, designer of the new logo. “We celebrate diversity and inclusivity, shown through the bold color palette. The phoenix rising to the star is symbolic of the new paths we help create for people that can often feel they have been left with nothing. We build back confidence and help them find their ‘true north’.”

While you may not recognize the name, JustDane has been changing lives and inspiring hope for nearly 50 years. Known until recently as Madison-area Urban Ministry, JustDane helps people facing the hurdles of incarceration and homelessness find a path toward a stable and productive future. And because of the racial disparities in the criminal justice system and homelessness, JustDane also focuses on anti-racism work in the community.

What’s in a Name?

So why, after so many years, did Madison-area Urban Ministry decide to change its name?

“The change to JustDane was a reflection of our nearly 50 years of commitment to social justice work in our community, our focus on all of Dane County, and, in the words of our first Executive Director Chuck Pfeifer, our commitment to remain true to our call and founding principles,” explains Executive Director Linda Ketcham.

As an organization dedicated to supporting and creating opportunities for people experiencing homelessness, returning to the community after incarceration, and facing poverty and racial discrimination, JustDane has always had justice as one of its core tenants. And its focus has long extended beyond the Madison city limits to encompass people living throughout Dane County. The new name better captures that mission and area of focus.

Programs That Transform Lives, and Systems

JustDane works to achieve its mission of helping transform individual lives and social systems to create a just and equitable community through a range of programs for youth and adults – providing support, training, and the stability they need to overcome the obstacles poverty and discrimination have thrown in their path.

Just Bakery, the organization’s 12-week educational and vocational training program, is probably one of its best-known programs. Working with people who are experiencing significant barriers to employment – barriers like homelessness, lack of education or work history, or past incarceration – Just Bakery teaches a range of hospitality and restaurant management skills to participants. It also provides hands-on baking training in the program’s commercial kitchen, all while providing college credits and a pathway to acceptance into Madison College’s Culinary Program.

Both Circles of Support and Journey Home help ease the transition back into the community for individuals who are newly released from prison. By providing services and support to these “returning citizens” and giving them a second chance, JustDane has been able to reduce recidivism (the rate of reincarceration) from 70% to 80% down to just 15%.

For families experiencing homelessness, the need for surgery can present significant challenges, most notably the need for a safe place to recuperate. Healing House, another JustDane initiative, provides 24/7 recuperative care by medically trained staff to help surgery patients and their families recover safely and get back on their feet.

JustDane also offers a peer support program in which people who have navigated the transition from incarceration to successful reintegration into the community help others along the journey. And the organization works with children and youth whose families have been affected by parental incarceration, offering a range of services designed to strengthen their family connections and provide mentors to guide and support them.

As steward to JustDane’s three endowment funds, MCF is proud to help sustain its long-term work to care and support those in our community who haven’t been heard, and to work toward justice for all people in Dane County. You can learn more about JustDane and the work it does in our community here.

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