Youth from the Operation Fresh Start program

Operation Fresh Start and Reach Dane (formerly Dane County Parent Council) will announce that they have formed a strategic partnership to improve multi-generational outcomes for youth in Dane County at the future home of Operation Fresh Start on 2670 Milwaukee St. on Thursday, July 20, 11 a.m.

Operation Fresh Start youth and community partners are building the future home for Operation Fresh Start at the former Holy Cross Lutheran Church and School on Madison’s near east side where thousands of youth will achieve a path to self-sufficiency. This 37,000-square-foot building provides room for Operation Fresh Start to double the square footage of their current facility and is part of Operation Fresh Start’s Building Futures Capital Campaign to provide twice as many youths a path to self-sufficiency.

Operation Fresh Start (OFS) provides a path forward for disconnected youth in Dane County, ages 16-24, through education, mentoring, and employment training. OFS leads youth to completing their high school degree (after having previously dropped out) and continuing on to higher education and/or self-sustaining employment.

Reach Dane provides high-quality early childhood services to over 1,000 children ages 0-5 in Dane County through center-based and home visitation programs. Reach Dane’s mission is to change the lives of underserved children and families through education and supportive services.

“Reach Dane is very excited to expand our collaboration with OFS,” says Jen Bailey, executive director of Reach Dane. “The newly designed classroom space will offer the highest quality early childhood education and comprehensive family support services. The programs will enroll the children of OFS youth, neighborhood families, and will also have a classroom specially designed to meet the needs of community families experiencing homelessness.”

The strategic partnership between the two agencies will lead to the colocation of Reach Dane programming for pre-school children at this new location. Reach Dane will add additional classroom space in a location that is centrally located. Classrooms will be used for Reach Dane families in the area with space dedicated specifically to children of homeless families.

The partnership will include the opportunity for Operation Fresh Start youths that have young children to have childcare available and may progress to include educational opportunities for Operation Fresh Start youth that wish to pursue a career in early childhood development.

“About 15 percent of Operation Fresh Start youth have young children,” says Gregory Markle, executive director of Operation Fresh Start. “Having this partnership in place at our new location will make the path to self-sufficiency through a high school diploma and employment, a possibility for many more young parents.”