At its annual Madison Gives event Thursday, Madison Community Foundation (MCF) announced a $1.1 million challenge grant to Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools (FMPS) to grow and sustain the Madison Metropolitan School District’s (MMSD) Community Schools Initiative, a collaborative educational model that closes opportunity gaps through family and community engagement. This is the last of 12 major grants MCF has made during its 75th Anniversary Year of Giving. To date, the grant is the largest in the organization’s history.
Community Schools, currently operating at Leopold and Mendota Elementary Schools, are a collective strategy to transform schools into a place where students, families, staff, and the surrounding community can work together to ensure every student is successful. The Community Schools strategy places the focus on the whole child by providing academic support, social and emotional learning, health and wellness, family and community engagement, and a safe and supportive climate. Community Schools will complement existing community services by locating those services where families and children are every day.
Community Schools are a national educational model and a key strategic initiative for the school district launched in 2015 with a $300,000 grant from MCF. The initial grant funded strategic planning and the first two staff positions at Leopold and Mendota. An evaluation of the first academic year of operation by the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research identified best practices and recommendations that will be used to advance the initiative.
The latest grant will help develop infrastructure, programming and fundraising capacity for additional schools over the next five years. Funds will be awarded as a one-to-one challenge grant, with distributions of $220,000 per year, from 2019-2023.
Expected outcomes include increases in academic achievement, attendance, graduation rates, parental involvement, and community partnerships and engagement. Decreases in behavioral references and chronic absenteeism are also expected.
“Madison Community Foundation believes public schools are our most important community asset,” MCF President Bob Sorge said in a statement. “We can think of no more important investment in our community at this time than innovative and sustainable approaches to enhancing the achievement of all of our students.”
“We are honored and humbled by the opportunity that Madison Community Foundation has given us through this extraordinary challenge grant,” said Melinda Heinritz, Executive Director, Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools, in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with the Madison Metropolitan School District to meet this challenge and, through the Community Schools initiative, deliver greater resources to our schools, our students and our families.”
“We are so energized and grateful for this incredible support from Madison Community Foundation,” MMSD Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said in a statement. “Community Schools build on the strengths of our school communities and prepare our students to excel in the classroom. This unprecedented grant will make more community schools a reality and will directly impact the futures of youth in our community.”
The “Together We Thrive” grant was announced at MCF’s annual dinner Madison Gives on May 17. During the 75th Anniversary Year of Giving, MCF awarded $2 million in grants to support and celebrate the Madison area’s most unique natural and cultural assets.
In addition to the 75th anniversary grants, MCF led a successful campaign that attracted more than 100 new commitments by individuals and couples to leave a gift to Madison Community Foundation in their will or estate plan. An anonymous donor matched each new gift with $1,000 donation to support MCF’s Community Impact Fund for a total of $100,000.
“Based on what our donors have shared about their future gifts and what we know from our history, this will mean $40 to $60 million in bequests that expand the community foundation’s capacity to make great things happen in our community,” said David Koehler, Vice President of Donor Engagement. “We are humbled by their generosity and foresight.”