The CUNA Mutual Group Foundation announced a major $300,000 gift to Operation Fresh Start’s Building Futures Campaign at the non-profit’s Annual Fresh Start Awards Luncheon today.

Operation Fresh Start (OFS) provides a path forward for disconnected youth in Dane County, ages 16-24, through education, mentoring, and employment training. OFS programs offer youth and young adults opportunities to gain meaningful, supported work experience, while completing their high school diploma or completing industry certifications and continuing on to higher education and/or self-sustaining employment.

“This is a tremendous gift that will take us into the final stages of the Building Futures Campaign, said Gregory Markle, Executive Director of OFS, in a statement. “CUNA Mutual Group Foundation is a wonderful asset in our community, supporting so much good work.”

The organization’s future home will open in early 2019 at 2670 Milwaukee St., the former Holy Cross Lutheran Church and School. One unique aspect of the campaign is that Operation Fresh Start youth and community partners are literally building the future home, where thousands of youth will achieve a path to self-sufficiency.

The building will house a construction and conservation training lab, training kitchen, healthcare training space, youth employment services, as well as ample space for the agency’s existing programs, with room to grow. Additionally, Reach Dane (formerly Dane County Parent Council – Headstart) will occupy one- third of the 37,000 square-foot site. This is Operation Fresh Start’s first capital campaign in the organization’s 48-year history.

“Our foundation focuses on organizations and programs that work to help people achieve financial security,” said Beth Cutler, president of the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation in a statement. “The work OFS does clearly aligns with this. We’re excited to see their new home come to life and hope this grant will help propel them to the finish line of this amazing building futures campaign.”