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Learn who’s growing, changing, moving and more! Stay on top of what’s new with your neighboring businesses. We share news releases and announcements from your peers in the Madison area. Want to toot your own horn? Use our Submit Member News form to share your own stories.

Photo by Richard Hurd

As Madison Reading Project Grows, New Leadership Team Formed

July 10, 2024


For more information:
Rowan Childs, (608) 347-7970,

As Madison Reading Project Grows, New Leadership Team Formed

MADISON—Madison Reading Project’s board of directors announces a new leadership model designed to continuously shape its future, strengthen its literacy programs’ viability, and increase capacity to inspire more children to read. 

Rowan Childs, founder, and Deirdre Steinmetz, long-time team member, are now Co-Executive Directors of the Madison-based nonprofit. To share responsibility, sustainability, productivity, and building on strengths, Steinmetz will spearhead Programs and Operations, while Childs will focus on Communications and Development. 

Childs’ strong background in communications, her vision for the future, and social entrepreneurship will coincide well with Steinmetz’s extensive experience in education, programming, operations, and staff development.

“As an organization that values collaboration and innovation, our progression to a co-leadership model feels right on many levels,” Childs says. “It’s a strong platform for continued growth.

“Through strategic planning, leadership coaching, listening, and learning, we’ve taken a deeper look into what has been working throughout our immense growth during our 10 years of operations,” Childs adds. “Our team’s differences in style, experiences, strengths, and limitations make us thrive. In addition, we found that our work doesn’t happen without strong relationships, trust, and collaboration; all values we want to be infused into all areas of our work and organization.”

“Our staff and Board of Directors are excited to continue providing impactful services to the community to propel our mission forward,” adds Steinmetz. “This year, we’re celebrating our 10th year of providing free literacy programming for children. The new structure will give us fresh insights for expanding our outreach.”

Additional organizational leadership changes include Natalie Holdahl, Program Director, and Emily Wills, who joined in April as Development Director. Other new roles include Mellisa Hornung, Little Free Library Coordinator, and Haley Borgrud,  Communications and Events Specialist.

Madison Reading Project is a thriving organization with 15 full- and part-time staffers and nearly 250 volunteers. It operates a book center (near an area of the city’s most economically challenged households). It serves nine (9) South Central Wisconsin counties. More than 123,900 books were given to over 100,600 children during 2023. As a facilitating partner with entertainer Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Foundation, more than 11,300 Dane County children receive one free book mailed monthly.  


Photo by Richard Hurd

Kayser Ford Reinforces Commitment to Local Law Enforcement

Madison, WI – Kayser Ford proudly announces its ongoing and multifaceted support for local law enforcement agencies, demonstrating a firm commitment to the safety and security of the communities it serves.

Key Areas of Support:

  1. Fleet Maintenance:

– Kayser Ford is dedicated to maintaining the fleets of the Madison Police Department, Dane County Sheriff’s Office, and Fitchburg Police Department, ensuring that law enforcement officers have reliable vehicles to perform their duties effectively.

  1. Body Repairs:

– Providing essential body repairs to squads damaged in the field, Kayser Ford helps keep patrol cars in optimal condition, minimizing downtime and enhancing operational efficiency.

  1. K9 Unit Support:

– Kayser Ford has taken a pivotal role in the acquisition of Fitchburg’s current K9, contributing to the enhancement of the K9 unit’s capabilities. Since then Kayser’s leadership team has volunteered countless hours in support of both Fitchburg and Dane County Sheriff’s Office K9 Units.

  1. Executive Leadership Involvement:

– Kayser Ford’s executive leadership team actively volunteers their time to serve on the Fitchburg Police and Fire Commission and Dane County K9, Inc., a non-profit public charity. This organization is dedicated to providing for the current and long-term funding needs of the Dane County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit.

  1. Community Engagement and Sponsorships:

– Kayser Ford sponsors Hole-in-One cars for charity golf outings benefiting Dane County K9, Inc. and MPD’s Capital K9 outings. These events are critical for raising funds and supporting local law enforcement initiatives.

Upcoming Event:

– 3rd Annual Dane County K9 Classic Golf Outing:

Dane County K9, Inc. is hosting its 3rd annual Dane County K9 Classic Golf Outing at Hawk’s Landing Golf Club on July 22nd. There is still time for businesses to support this event and the funding needs of the Dane County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit. Businesses are encouraged to visit []( to sign up for a hole sponsor or submit a silent auction item, demonstrating their support for law enforcement.

Kayser Ford’s continued commitment to these vital initiatives underscores the company’s dedication to community service and public safety. Through these efforts, Kayser Ford aims to ensure that local law enforcement agencies have the resources and support they need to protect and serve the community effectively.

For more information, please contact:

Brendan Baxter

Vice President

Kayser Automotive Group

Phone: (608) 276-0244


About Kayser Ford:

Kayser Ford was founded in 1925 on East Washington Ave. having been owned and operated by just three families since being established.  Kayser Ford is part of the Kayser Automotive Group which is locally owned by the Baxter family of Madison and operates 8 franchised dealerships and 3 collision repair centers throughout Wisconsin, representing all major domestic manufacturers.

Photo by Richard Hurd

Maximize Your Backpack Donations with Fenrici Brands

Fenrici Brands is a Madison-based company specializing in high-quality kids’ backpacks. For many years, we have partnered with local and national organizations to provide vibrant, durable, and affordable school backpacks. If your organization is planning to donate backpacks this year, please contact us at Let us help you maximize your impact and make your funds go further.

Learn more and donate here. All donations will be shipped directly to The Goodman Center.

Photo by Richard Hurd

WayForward Resources: More than three dozen local food pantries issue call to action in full-page ad: “Dane County, we need your help”

MADISON – A coalition of 36 Dane County food pantries released a letter to the community on Tuesday, sounding an alarm about the rising number of people facing food insecurity and the need for both immediate support and longer-term solutions to the challenges of distributing enough food to meet the growing need.

The letter, published as a full-page ad in Tuesday’s print edition of the Wisconsin State Journal, begins: “Dane County, we need your help.” The cost of the ad was co-sponsored by United Way of Dane County and the newspaper.

“As Dane County food pantries, we serve thousands of people in our community each day. Our shared mission is to make sure our neighbors don’t face hunger,” the letter said. “But we are facing a serious challenge.”

The food pantries also held a press conference Tuesday morning at the state Capitol, where they were scheduled to be joined by local officials and community leaders, including Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Janel Heinrich, Executive Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County, state legislators, county supervisors, and other invited guests.

“Because of the urgency of the situation, we are coming together for the first time as food pantries to make our community aware of the challenges we face in meeting the need,” said Ellen Carlson, Executive Director for WayForward Resources. “Our current resources can only stretch so far.”

Their call to action comes as visits to many pantries in the fastest-growing county in Wisconsin have more than doubled in the past two years. The result of this increased need is pantries are spending more money on food than ever before as the options they have to keep shelves stocked “continue to shift and are more limited than they were just a few years ago,” the letter said. The pantries stress that buying food in bulk is more expensive now and the traditional suppliers of free food for pantries can’t keep up with the demand.

“The dual effect of the high cost of food and more people needing help poses a significant challenge to all local pantries,” Julie Bennett, CEO & Executive Director at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison, said. “This is the mission we’re called to — to help people in need. Our hope is that more people in Dane County will join us by giving what they can this month, next month, and into the future. This is a long term issue we can only address together.”

Pantry leaders said the pressure will rise in the coming weeks as kids have less access to free food with schools out for the summer.

Millions of people in this country are just one job loss or health emergency away from hunger,” said Marcia Kasieta, Business Director of Badger Prairie Needs Network in Verona. “Food insecurity in Dane County is real and as the region grows so does the demand for food pantry services. Pantries are working double-time to address this increase.”

The food pantries’ letter explained what is driving demand, including higher food prices, dramatic increases in rent and the fact that federal assistance that helped people make ends meet during the pandemic is gone. The most recent data on food insecurity in Dane County shows an increase in people not having enough to eat and not knowing where their next meal is coming from. According to the Mind the Meal Gap report recently released by Feeding America, nearly 13% of kids in Dane County were food insecure in 2022, up from 7.5% in 2021. That increase was even before local pantries started seeing sharp upticks in demand.

“It is increasingly hard for families to make ends meet, and with very little government support for families post-pandemic, we are continuing to see more and more households turning to food pantries for help,” said Catie Badsing, Manager of Food Security Programs for the Sun Prairie Food Pantry at Sunshine Place. “Pantries are spending more on food than ever before to keep our shelves stocked.”

There is not a quick or easy fix to food insecurity and the structural and economic factors that drive it, according to the letter. But pantries say this is “a critical moment for us to come together for our neighbors. There are a number of immediate actions people in our community can take to support local pantries in meeting the need, including:

— Organize a food drive for your local pantry.

— Look at your own budget to figure out how much you can donate to your local pantry to support neighbors in need; give monthly if you can to provide a steady stream of support.

— Reach out to your local pantry and ask what food items they need most and buy those items to donate when you go to the grocery store.

— Volunteer your time. There are a variety of opportunities to get more involved in helping food pantries support the community.

Community support is how pantries are able to serve thousands of people in need every day, but we need more people to join our mission,” said Rhonda Adams, Executive Director of The River Food Pantry. “There are things people can do right now — donations of money, food, and volunteer support are vital to helping us meet this record need. We believe our community has the power and resources to help ensure local pantries can continue to be there for our neighbors who rely on us to feed themselves and their families.”

Pantries also urged local, county, state, and federal officials, as well as other community leaders, to help find long-term solutions to food insecurity.

“Our pantries are not failing, quite the contrary,” said Letesha Nelson, President and Executive Director, Goodman Community Center. “Our pantries are collectively stepping up, but our efforts are not sustainable without more help given our current infrastructure that relies heavily on in-kind donations and volunteer participation.”



Dane County, we need your help.

As Dane County food pantries, we serve thousands of people in our community each day. Our shared mission is to make sure our neighbors don’t face hunger.

But we are facing a serious challenge.

Visits to many of our food pantries have more than doubled in the past two years. We know some of the reasons why. Food prices are higher and rent is rising more here than anywhere else in the country. Federal assistance that helped people make ends meet during the pandemic is gone. We are also the fastest-growing county in Wisconsin. Nearly 13% of kids in Dane County were food insecure in 2022, up from 7.5% in 2021 — and that was before our food pantries started seeing drastic increases in demand.

We’re also spending more on food than ever before.

The options we have to keep our shelves stocked continue to shift and are more limited than they were just a few years ago. Buying food in bulk is more expensive now and our traditional suppliers of free food can’t keep up with the demand. Permanent changes to the food system over the last few years mean there is less surplus available for our food pantries.

These trends make it challenging to keep food on our shelves.

Food pantries have worked hard to stretch our resources, space, and teams as far as possible. The pressure will rise in the coming weeks as kids have less access to free food with schools out for the summer.

You can help.

Making a financial donation to your local food pantry enables them to purchase needed food. We welcome food drives and volunteers, too. We know there is no quick or easy fix to food insecurity and the structural and economic factors that drive it. So we urge our local, county, state, and federal officials, as well as other community leaders, to help find long-term solutions to food insecurity. We can’t do it alone.

This is a critical moment for us to come together for our neighbors.

When our community supports local food pantries, we are stronger. With access to food, kids can learn, families can work, and seniors can stay healthy. It will take all of us to meet this challenge and make sure our neighbors don’t experience hunger. We are committed to doing all we can. We are asking you to join us.

In partnership with you,

Allied Food Pantry
Babies & Beyond of WI, Inc.
Badger Prairie Needs Network
Bayview Community Center Pantry
Catholic Multicultural Center
Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin
Deerfield Community Center
East Madison Community Center
Extended Hands Pantry
Fountain of Life Covenant Church
Good Shepherd Food Pantry
Goodman Community Center’s Fritz Food Pantry
Grace Food Pantry
Great Lakes Dryhootch Madison
Heights Unlimited Community Resource Center (Mazomanie)
Islamic Community of Madison
Kennedy Heights Food Pantry
Lakeview Food Pantry
Lussier Community Education Center – Food Pantry
Mission Nutrition DeForest
Neighborhood House Community Center Food Pantry
Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Mt. Horeb
Oregon Area Food Pantry
OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center
Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin
Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Madison Food Pantry
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Food Pantry
Stoughton Food Pantry
Stoughton United Methodist Church Food Pantry
Sun Prairie Food Pantry at Sunshine Place
The Keep Food Pantry
The River Food Pantry
Vivent Health Food Pantry
Waunakee Food Pantry
WayForward Resources
Willy Street Pantry at the Social Justice Center

Photo by Richard Hurd

WPS Health Solutions awards 2024 community partnership funding


DeAnne Boegli
Corporate Communications

WPS Health Solutions awards 2024 community partnership funding
Grants provide $111,100 toward mental health, DEI, and more

MADISON, Wis.—June 26, 2024—WPS Health Solutions awarded $111,100 to 28 organizations as part of its community partnership initiative. A team of volunteer WPS employees selected which organizations would receive funding based on evaluation criteria that prioritize WPS focus areas. This results in funding decisions that truly embody the collective voice of WPS employees, ensuring the company’s investments create a lasting positive impact.

WPS President and CEO Wendy Perkins said, “The organizations selected work in our communities to advance mental health and well-being, diversity and inclusion, and diversification of our supply chain ecosystem. WPS is proud to support them with these financial awards.”

WPS offered one-time grants for 2024 ranging from $250 to $10,000 to qualified, tax-exempt organizations. The organizations include:

  • Access Community Health Centers, Inc.
  • African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin
  • American Heart Association
  • Catholic Charities, Diocese of Madison
  • Clean Lakes Alliance
  • Disability:IN Wisconsin
  • Dogs On Call, Inc.
  • Edgerton Public Library
  • Faith & Deliverance Recovery Outreach International Ministries
  • Fisher House Wisconsin
  • H.O.P.E. Foundation, Incorporation (Helping Others Pursue Excellence)
  • HealthNet of Rock County Inc.
  • In the Pink Boutique
  • Living Our Visions Inclusively (LOV Inc)
  • Madison Public Art Project, Inc. 
  • Madison Public Library Foundation
  • Madison Reading Project
  • Madison365
  • Maydm
  • Monona Grove Education Foundation, Inc.
  • Neighborhood House Community Center
  • The Open Door Clinic, Inc.
  • The Salvation Army
  • Urban League of Greater Madison
  • WI LGBT Chamber of Commerce
  • WI Veterans Chamber of Commerce
  • Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation
  • YWCA Madison

The open application process introduced by WPS last year broadened the applicant pool by attracting new and diverse organizations. It also reinforced WPS’ dedication to transparency and collaboration with the community.

About WPS Health Solutions®

Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation (WPS Health Solutions), founded in 1946, is a nationally regarded benefits administrator for a variety of U.S. government programs and a leading not-for-profit health insurer in Wisconsin. WPS Health Solutions serves active-duty and retired military personnel, seniors, individuals, and families in Wisconsin, across the U.S., and around the world. WPS Health Solutions, headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, has more than 2,600 employees. For more information, please visit