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Category: Accomplishments

Photo by Richard Hurd

UW Health: Invests in workforce housing for Dane County

MADISON, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority Board approved a $1 million workforce housing development investment that will benefit its employees and others in Dane County.

This marks the second time the UW Health board has invested $1 million in the Dane Workforce Housing Fund, joining other large, local employers in the effort to create more affordable housing for the Madison area workforce.

The fund began with a collaboration between the United Way of Dane County and the Economic Stability Council to tackle an affordable housing shortage in Dane County, according to Lorrie Heinemann, president and chief operating officer, Madison Development Corporation, the manager of the fund.

“Investors in the Dane Workforce Housing Fund fill a gap in the financing that could not be filled by another source of capital at a reasonable cost, giving developers a lower interest rate, and allowing them to offer some of their apartments at affordable rents to people making between 50 and 80% of the Dane County area median income,” she said.

The Dane County area median income in 2023 was $123,400 for a family of four, according to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

UW Health has many employees in this group, according to Chuck Klein, manager of talent acquisition, UW Health. Madison area housing costs come up frequently in conversations while recruiting new employees, he said.

“People tell us they are surprised by how expensive housing is in Madison, particularly people who are moving from out of state,” Klein said.

While the issue affects many Madison area businesses, housing costs can be especially challenging for employees at UW Health because some jobs require employees to be on call regularly, which requires that they live within a certain distance from one of the hospitals.

“That’s basically the west side of Madison for employees at University Hospital, and affordable options are challenging to find,” he said.

UW Health joined a dozen other investors in the Dane Workforce Housing Fund I, investing the first $1 million in that initial round of funding that launched in 2020. The goal of the first round of the fund was to raise $10 million to build 500 units. When the fund closed in late 2023, it exceeded that goal by raising $11.8 million from 14 investors and building 747 new housing units. New apartment buildings created by the first round of funding include Uno Terrace Apartments in Madison, The Trotta and The Kestrel in Middleton, and Limestone Ridge in Fitchburg. The projects tend to have mixed-rate rents, with some offered at market rate and others to earners making less than the area median income.

The Madison Development Corporation is currently raising funding for Fund II, to build on the progress Fund I achieved, with the goal of reaching $10 million by February 2024. Employers interested in investing in the fund can call (608) 535-4572.

“We look forward to the next phase of this work,” Heinemann said. “We’re grateful to UW Health and all the investors who are working to be part of the solution that creates more quality workforce housing in Madison.”

This fund is an investment, not a donation for UW Health, but it is also more than that, according to Robert Flannery, chief financial officer, UW Health.

“This investment is part of our mission to improve health in Dane County,” he said. “Through collaboration with community organizations and other major local employers, we can improve health equity with better access to housing, including for our workforce.”

The full list of investors includes BMO Harris Bank, Exact Sciences Corporation, First Business Bank, Lake Ridge Bank, Madison Development Corporation, Madison Gas and Electric Foundation, Oak Bank, Oscar Rennebohm Foundation, Summit Credit Union, Park Bank, TruStage Foundation, UW Credit Union, UW Health and WPS Health Solutions.

Photo by Richard Hurd

Madison Reading Project Celebrates Two Years Working with Dolly Parton to Bring Free Books to Local Kids

For Immediate Release
January 26, 2024

More Information:
Rowan Childs, (608) 347-7970

Madison Reading Project Celebrates Two Years Working with Dolly Parton to Bring Free Books to Local Kids

MADISON – Madison Reading Project and The Dolly Parton Imagination Library celebrate two successful years of partnering to bring free books to more than 11,250 young Dane County children. 

Last year, Madison Reading Project helped connect thousands of Dane County families to the international Imagination Library book-by-mail program. That’s over 113,650 Imagination Library books received by local children. Any child residing within the boundaries of Dane County can be mailed a free brand-new book every month until their fifth birthday.

“We’re proud to serve as the local affiliate for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library since 2022, helping to get free, high-quality, age-appropriate books to the youngest children in our community,” says Rowan Childs, Madison Reading Project founder/executive director. “It’s our mission to connect our community with free books and literacy resources to ignite a love for reading.”

“Our goal is to reach all of the nearly 7,000 newborn babies in the county with the Imagination Library program and increase awareness with our Baby’s First Pages early literacy program,” says Sarah Burke, Early Literacy Coordinator. “In 2023, we targeted the Imagination Library outreach to newborns at UnityPoint-Meriter and SSM Health St. Mary’s hospitals. 

“We also launched an early literacy Facebook page to help connect local Imagination Library enrollees with content related to child development, tips for reading books with children, information on forthcoming books, and insights from staff literacy experts.”

Funding for Imagination Library is made possible by a grant from the Roots & Wings Foundation, with the mission of helping children grow strong from the roots up.

“Roots & Wings’ continued financial support allows us to grow our outreach to more children,” Childs adds. “As Dolly famously says, ‘When you can read, you can do anything you dream.’ We can’t agree more.”           

Enroll a child at:

Imagination Library is one of several Madison Reading Project literacy programs. Chartered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2014, Madison Reading Project has given more than 500,000 books to children in the greater Dane County area.

Roots & Wings is a family foundation established in 2019 by Judy and Gordon Faulkner. Roots & Wings makes grants across healthcare, early childhood, basic needs, and human rights. The Foundation supports nonprofit organizations that help low-income children and families reach their full potential through prevention, early intervention, and in-depth programming that changes lives.


Photo by Richard Hurd

WayForward Resources in the news

WayForward Resources Executive Director Ellen Carlson wrote a guest column published the day before Thanksgiving in the Wisconsin State Journal that addresses the dramatic increase in need food pantries in Dane County are seeing and how the community can help.

“Visits to our food pantry, which serves all of Dane County, have more than tripled since January 2022. We are now distributing the equivalent of 125,000 meals each month,” Carlson wrote.

Carlson shared that the demand shows now sign of going away and that experts point to pandemic-era support, general inflation and the steep increase in housing costs that cause people to focus even more of their income on paying rent.

“We have never turned anyone away, but we have had to put some limits on the amount of food people can take,” Carlson wrote. “We worry about how we and other local food pantries can continue to ensure that everyone in our community has access to nutritious food.”

In addition Carlson addresses the misconception is that food pantries operate mainly with state or federal support. She notes that only a small amount of food comes in through the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program. WayForward stocks its shelves by relying on a complex web of systems and collaborations. That includes strategic partnerships with Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, surplus from local grocery and convenience stores, as well as monetary and food donations from businesses, foundations, churches and individuals.

“Food pantries need your support now more than ever. Donations of money, food and your time can all make an immediate difference,” she wrote, adding that she wants people in our community to know food pantries will be there to prove a safety net.

“We must come together to make sure food pantries can continue to keep our neighbors from experiencing hunger,” she wrote.

This month, Isthmus covered the increased demand on area food pantries and WayForward Strategic Engagement Director Leslie Huber was quoted about how Madison’s highest-in-the-nation rent increases are also pushing some to need help with food too. Huber said some seeking assistance report $100 to $200 increases as their leases are renewed. “That hundred or two hundred is a game changer,” she told Isthmus. “When people are putting more and more income into staying in their home, there’s very little left for food.”

WayForward Board member Dane Monogue, Superintendent of Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, was interviewed by WKOW 27 about the growing need in our community for a story the station broadcast about WayForward’s annual Holiday Art Market.

“It’s a wonderful way for us to promote what WayForward Resources does as an organization … at a time where we’ve seen unprecedented need,” she said.

Photo by Richard Hurd

One Community Bank Celebrates Concession Stand Grand Opening at Middleton High School Stadium

November 20, 2023

Ameilia Abraham
One Community Bank

One Community Bank Celebrates Concession Stand Grand Opening at Middleton High School Stadium

(November 2023) – One Community Bank is delighted to invest in our communities and support the Middleton Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) with their new High School Stadium. OCB was thrilled to donate $100,000 to the MCPASD Education Foundation for their High School Stadium Complex Improvement Project.

One Community Bank’s twenty-year commitment is recognized through signage inside and outside of the concession stand, a plaque on the donor wall in the Cardinal Fan Walkway and a paver.

“At One Community Bank we believe in three things: serving our clients, supporting our colleagues, and investing in our communities. We are proud to invest in the good neighbor community of Middleton and contribute to the impact MCPASD is making on students,” said Steve Peotter, President and CEO.

“The stadium complex includes a ticket booth, restrooms, locker rooms, a concession stand, an excellence tunnel, storage, a donor wall, and more. The first story is completed, the second story has yet to be completed. Fundraising continues for the second story. The community has been incredibly supportive, and it’s been made possible because of amazing partners like One Community Bank,” said Dr. Dana Monogue.

The Middleton High School Stadium aims to be a stadium for all. It is a state-of-the-art stadium complex that continues to drive the MCPASD district mission of being inclusive, innovative, and inspiring for all students.

One Community Bank is one of the largest community banks in south central Wisconsin. The locally owned bank has 15 bank locations and $2.1 billion in assets. It provides both personal and business banking solutions, with an intense focus on serving clients, supporting colleagues, and investing in its communities. Five years in a row named one of Madison’s best places to work, One Community Bank serves the communities of Oregon, McFarland, Waunakee, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, Middleton, Adams, Oxford, Grand Marsh, Hillsboro, La Farge, Readstown, Wonewoc, and Union Center. Member FDIC.

Photo by Richard Hurd

Madison Reading Project Celebrates Giving 100,000 Books This Year

November 16, 2023


Rowan Childs
Cell: (608) 347-7970

Madison Reading Project Celebrates Giving 100,000 Books This Year

Madison Reading Project delivered its 100,000th book of the year on Wednesday, Nov. 15, to the Salvation Army, Darbo Drive, kicking off the season of holiday book-giving. 

 “Whose Toes are Those?” by Jabari Asim is one of dozens of books Madison Reading Project, working with Madison Public Library, brings periodically to the Center.

“It’s another milestone along the journey of providing great books and literacy resources to children, families, and educators to encourage and inspire readers and learners,” says Rowan Childs, Madison Reading Project’s founder and executive director. “And, coincidentally, it’s also Family Literacy and Madison Reading Project month, as proclaimed by Madison’s mayor and city council.”

“We’re very proud of our role connecting the greater Dane County area with free, culturally and linguistically, diverse books and literacy resources – to ignite a love for reading,” says Deirdre Steinmetz, Madison Reading Project’s program and operations director. “Thanks to our generous community, we will continue bringing even more books to organizations and schools as we work together to support kids and educators.”

“In a season noted for honoring generous giving, we’re celebrating the opportunity to bring books to deserving children,” says Childs. “Our corporate donors, foundations, and especially individual givers during this month’s Community Book Drive make it possible to reach such a milestone. I’m so proud of our team’s determination to make every book wish come true. Reaching 100,000 is a huge achievement of our organization and helps meet our communities’ need for quality reading materials accessible to children.”

“Serendipitously, The Salvation Army, Darbo Drive location, was our very first program partner when we began in 2014. Since then we’ve added many new literacy programs to our repertoire, including our Books for Educators, where so far this year, we’ve given over 1,000 local teachers  more than 22,000 books. And, since our founding, we’ve given 478,400 books to about 303,600 kids.”

Working with the Wisconsin State Journal’s Empty Stocking Club, Madison Reading Project plans to bring more than 15,000 books to the annual holiday toy distribution event.

“With the communities’ help, we’ll work to get new books that kids want into the hands of children from birth to age 18, who may have few, if any, books in their homes,” Childs says.  

To contribute and learn more visit

Madison Reading Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to connect communities with free books and literacy enrichment programs that ignite a love for reading.