Home Madison Community Shares Selects conNEXTions as First Inspiring Voices Project of 2019.

Community Shares Selects conNEXTions as First Inspiring Voices Project of 2019.


Community Shares of Wisconsin has announced that conNEXTions will be the first Inspiring Voices Project of 2019.

“We’re excited to introduce you to this year’s first Inspiring Voices awardee, conNEXTions, a local grassroots organization working to advance underrepresented young adults from the Madison community to achieve their financial, educational, and career goals through mentorship, networking, and professional development,” said Cheri Dubiel, executive director of Community Shares of Wisconsin, in a statement. “As a mentor, I can tell you firsthand the program is powerful and is making big strides in fulfilling their mission.”

conNEXTions is dedicated to increasing the financial knowledge, building social capital and connecting young adults to professionals that have expertise in the young adults’ career interests. conNEXTions also provides networking opportunities by teaching young adults how to network and they offer free workshops on personal and professional development.

“I nominated conNEXTions because they address disparities by focusing on young adults of color and provide training to mentors on cultural diversity and culturally specific mentoring,” says Nancy Vue, the nominator, and Director of Communications and Development at Freedom Inc., in a statement. “I have seen mentees in the program, bring the skills and resources they have gained in conNEXTions to other communities outside Madison.  Saran Ouk, herself is a local Madison resident and MMSD graduate.  As a Cambodian American refugee, she knows firsthand the help she’s gotten in life and wants to extend the same help to young adults who didn’t have access to career and financial opportunities.”

Since 1971, Community Shares of Wisconsin (CSW) and its members have worked together to advance social justice, protect the environment and defend civil rights in Dane County and across Wisconsin. In 2016, CSW developed the Inspiring Voices program to highlight people of color-led organizations working to reduce racial disparities and advance racial equity. The awardees are supported with a $1,000 matching grant and are given tools and consultation to help them develop an online fundraising campaign. CSW created this program with an acknowledgment that, as a largely white-led organization, few of the groups represented in their membership are led by people of color or emerging from the communities most impacted by systemic racism.

ConNEXTions has made an impact with their mentorship program at various community employment and outreach events. To kick off the matching grant, Community Shares of Wisconsin hosted a Facebook Live event at this year’s conNEXTions summer event yesterday at Devil’s Lake.

Saran Ouk. Photo supplied.

“The funds raised will be used for mentees to attend our workshops – many of the young adults we serve cannot afford the registration fees or the transportation to attend,” says Saran Ouk, founder and president of conNEXTions, in a press release. “What makes conNEXTions different than other outreach mentorship programs is that we have developed a program that targets adults of color and from marginalized communities and matched them with successful professionals of color or diverse leaders to mentor them and talk about their personal journey. When you can connect with young adults on a cultural level, it’s encouraging them to ask questions that they wouldn’t otherwise.”

When you donate here to support this initiative and CSW will match donations (up to $1,000). The funds will go to support the necessary training of mentees and mentors.