The Madison-based Forward Community Investments (FCI) has awarded a grant each to three local nonprofits: YWCA Madison, Housing Initiatives, and Operation Fresh Start. The announcement took place at the Judy Wilcox Game Changer Grant Reception, in honor of the late Judy Wilcox, whose birthday was in November and whose life was marked by a dedication to the community.

Judy was a woman of integrity, passion and conviction,” said FCI president Salli Martyniak. “She dedicated her adult life to community service; whether it was serving on Dane County Board of Supervisor, sitting on various boards and committees or cooking her specialty dishes for a political fundraiser. At the core of all she stood for – in addition to justice and equity for all – was her commitment to safe, quality affordable housing. She believed that everyone deserved a place to call home and that people shouldn’t have to sacrifice their last penny to put a roof over their head. That’s why we are initiating the Judy Wilcox Game Changer grants in 2017. Every year, in her birth month, FCI will make at least one grant to an organization that embraces Judy’s legacy. It’s our way of keeping her spirit alive.”

“Judy’s presence and legacy will last with each organization she has touched,” said YWCA Madison CEO Vanessa McDowell. YWCA Madison is opening up another location on the Westside for homeless families soon.

“She was an advocate for affordable housing…and she always wanted to connect to the youth,” added Greg Markle of Operation Fresh Start.

Each organization received grants of $2,500 to support of their contributions to Dane County and the Madison Area. Wilcox served in multiple positions which each of the organizations.

“Judy was a larger than life force,” said Doug Nelson, FCI board member and Former president and CEO of Annie E. Casey Foundation. “She was involved in an organization of good people doing good things.”

The grant reception was also embellished with the powerful poetry of First Wave scholars and senior Badgers, Ajanae Dawkins and Miona Short, who shared several powerful pieces about homelessness, poverty, and the abundance of disparities found in many communities of color.

“Same food, same water, same shelter. Same food, same water, same shelter. same food, same water, same shelter. But no home.” said Ajanae Dawkins in one of her pieces.

Through its Game Changer programs, FCI has awarded several grants to organizations in several Wisconsin cities working toward racial equity. Applications for 2018 Game Changer grants are now open.