Recent Success Results and COVID-19 Response

This is the type of work that’s possible only with your support. You can make a secure donation to any of our member groups—or to all of them (by selecting “CSW” in the drop-down list). Or you can make a gift to the Fund for a Just Recovery to support nonprofits effected by COVID-19.

ABC for Health: helping Thomas get the coverage needed

Mother and Child--ABC

Thomas was born prematurely. Sadly, medical bills quickly rose and benefit denials emerged for the family. The hospital referred the family to an ABC for Health advocate. Due to low birth weight and age, Thomas should have qualified for Social Security SSI benefits. However, paperwork issues led Social Security to reject the application.

Much to the financial and emotional relief of the family, ABC for Health staff helped them cut through the paperwork and bureaucratic red tape to secure the needed benefits and coverage for Thomas!

Madison Audubon Society: creating passionate young advocates

Madison Audubon Students
“Three of your boys are pounding on the door and yelling for you to come, they say it’s an emergency!” At her colleague’s warning, Madison elementary school teacher Laurie Solchenberger darted to the playground, expecting the worst. However, she found her students unharmed, yelling and pointing, “Ms. S! It’s a godwit!”

Thanks to Madison Audubon Society’s free, nature-based education, Laurie has been able to ignite her students’ interest–so they can become the next generation of environmental stewards.  

Clean Wisconsin: working for environmental laws representing the people

Clean WI Baileiy's Greenhouse (1)

Why support Clean Wisconsin’s statewide work?

“We feel an essential way to effect positive change is through our legislative process. Clean Wisconsin is qualified to take on that challenge. It takes a dedicated staff that can communicate with both sides of the aisle and endure an ever-changing political landscape. We feel Clean Wisconsin represents us.”

-Gayle Chatfield and Bill Bailey, owners of Bailey’s Greenhouse.

Fair Housing Center of Greater Madison: helping end housing discrimination

Fair Housing Council WisconsinThe Fair Housing Center of Greater Madison (FHCGM) recently achieved a housing victory.

What the victims of discrimination found: a housing provider repeatedly refused to rent one-bedroom apartments to single parents with a child, saying that the family would need a two-bedroom apartment. In each case she then stated that there were no two-bedroom apartments available. These practices were uncovered by FHC by sending out “testers” to the apartment complex.

What FHC did: filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division (ERD), because the actions limited families with children from living in the complex, and having children in a household is protected under  the Wisconsin Open Housing Law. The judge at the ERD agreed.  The case resulted in a settlement, in which the housing provider agreed to pay monetary damages and to complete a fair housing training program.


OutReach: transforming lives for LGBT people who are ill, homeless

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“At OutReach, some of our clients are homeless, unemployed, or have a variety of health problems,” says Angie Rehling, program director. “Our clients often have no resources to help themselves through difficult times. We are so grateful to be a part of their success stories: clients who were homeless and got a job and an apartment, clients who have mental health problems and improve with treatment, people who attend support groups and find help through new relationships, and many more.”

River Alliance: Wild and Scenic Film Festival 2016

Pack up that popcorn and tuck away some tissues–this year’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival is going to be an emotional journey you won’t want to miss!

River Alliance Film--DenaliAt 7:00 PM on Wednesday, March 16, Join River Alliance at The Barrymore Theater for their ninth annual cinematic celebration of the great outdoors.

Be engaged and inspired by 10 short-medium length films like Denail: the story of photographer Ben Moon and his beloved dog.

General admission tickets are $12 in advance, $15 dollars at the door.

VIP tickets are $30 each, with 4 VIP tickets for the price of 3: a steal for the pre-party food, drink, and fun included in the price!

Purchase your tickets here and find the full film lineup here.

Wisconsin Women’s Network: mentoring our future women leaders


It’s International Women’s Day, and Jiyu Zhou noted that “joining the Mentorship Program of Wisconsin Women’s Network has been one of the best decisions I have made.” With her mentor, Jiyu has been able to set and accomplish many personal and professional goals. And kudos to her for being the first Wisconsin student to serve on the National Student Advisory Council  for the American Association of University Women!

“It has been an insightful, inspiring, and enlightened experience,” said Jiyu. “My mentor and I will likely continue our mentorship relationship beyond this one-year program.”

Midwest Environmental Advocates: CHIP® Chat on sustainable food, clean water

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Not only is factory farming unsustainable, the pollution that it funnels into our water harms smaller farming operations.

Join Midwest Environmental Advocates for a CHIP Chat on how Wisconsin citizens can voice their opinion on these issues. The discussion will be held on March 9 from 6-7:00 at Willy Street West.

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters: no more “mine now, ask questions later”

Frac Mining--FBNearly all of the sand used in hydraulic fracking worldwide is mined right here in Wisconsin. And we don’t know much about the long-term impacts of this mining in our state.   

With help from Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Institute, the Chippewa County Board challenged this “mine now, ask questions later” approach. In just four days, conservation voters sent 340 messages to County Board members urging a scientific study on the health, economic, and environmental impacts of frac sand mining.

This hard work paid off – the County Board passed a resolution asking the state to investigate the effects that frac sand mining has on our air, land, water.    

Arts Wisconsin: join in Arts Day 2016


Art is more than decor for your wall; it’s a fundamental part of our state’s economy, educational system, and quality of life.

On March 9, join Arts Wisconsin for Arts Day 2016: a day of celebrating, networking, learning, and voicing your creative ideas. You’ll also learn about Creative Economy Development Initiative, designed to grow the state’s creative economy. Find out about registration and the day’s program here.

Center for Resilient Cities: CHIP® Chat on sustainable food systems

Ready to learn more about sustainable food systems (beyond the choice to buy local and organic)?

Join Center for Resilient Cities for a CHIP Chat! We’ll discuss the complexities of our current food systems and opportunities for making fresh, healthy food available to all.

Willy Street Co-op East: March 9, 6:00-7:00 PM
Willy Street Co-op West: March 30, 6:00-7:00PM

Chrysalis: helping people like David find and keep jobs

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After being out of the workforce for 10 years due to mental illness, David recently got a restaurant job with the help of Chrysalis. Last year Chrysalis staff helped 32 people with mental illness find permanent jobs.

“From Chrysalis, I got good advice, and the regular, weekly meetings kept the momentum going and encouraged me. It’s easier to persist with someone working alongside you. Having this job has really improved my mood,” said David. “I’ve gotten a lot better.”

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: preventing teen dating violence

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Teen Dating Violence and Prevention Month is wrapping up. Though they may not always be visible, the impacts of teen dating violence are wide-reaching, and combating this issue is increasingly important.

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin is working to prevent teen dating violence. In 2015, the group started their Teen Council: a space where teens and prevention educators can network, share resource, and aid in developing resources.  

Fair Wisconsin Education Fund: CHIP® Chat on LGBTQ equality in Wisconsin

Fair WI

Learn more about the work of Fair Wisconsin Education Fund, our statewide LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning) civil rights advocacy group on March 3, from 6-7:00 pm Willy Street Co-op West.

Fair Wisconsin is one of the nearly 70 local nonprofits that you support when you say yes to Community CHIP at the Co-op. Registration is preferred; just stop at the Willy West Customer Service desk or call (608) 284-7800.

Wisconsin Family Ties: inviting kids to enter “My Feelings Matter” poster

Artwork is a great way to contribute to the development of children’s social emotional health. In honor of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, encourage your child to participate in a poster contest supported by
Wisconsin Family Ties.

Entries for this year’s theme, “My Feelings Matter,” are due by March 18: just a few more weeks to mail those masterpieces!

Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired: 1:1 help for those who need it


Last year 727 people received 1:1 support from the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired. These people received in-home vision rehabilitation visits, mobility training, low vision evaluations, and other services. If you know anyone with low vision, you know how important it is to have help from WCBVI!

Wisconsin Council on Children and Families: CHIP® Chat on racial disparity


Mark your calendar for a CHIP Chat at Willy Street Co-op West: on February 22, 6:00-7:00 p.m., the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families will discuss their Race to Equity project and its efforts to eliminate racial disparity in Wisconsin through systemic change. Join in the discussion!

Click here for more information.

Community GroundWorks: a ton of kids, almost two tons of food!

The numbers show the impressive scope of the work at Community GroundWorks:

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  • Over 3,700 kids: went to the Goodman Youth Farm to learn about planting and harvesting vegetables! As a result …
  • 3,700 lbs of food: harvested from Goodman Youth Farm last season–all of which was used in the outdoor kitchen at the Youth Farm, sent home with visiting students, or donated to the Goodman Community Center Food Pantry.

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: working with teens to stem dating violence

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February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month!

Dating violence, which is similar to domestic violence, is complicated by teens’ vulnerability–due to maturity level and life circumstances. Other barriers to seeking help: youth can feel intense peer pressure, and they may fear adults’ disapproval. It’s why End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin created its Teen Council, made up of educators specializing in this area.

Sustain Dane: Equity Matters in your company culture, too

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 6.20.31 PMIs your company ready for diversity? Sustain Dane doesn’t just promote sustainability as it relates to our environment. It offers Step up: Equity Matters sessions–and the next one, on February 5, is tackling company culture – what it is, how we can assess it, and how we can change it to be inclusive. More information and registration here.

Freedom Inc.: testifying at UN Working Group

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Last week, Freedom Inc. was in Chicago testifying at the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. The Working Group
heard valuable insights from Co-Director M Adams and others from Freedom Inc.

Watch videos from the event here on Freedom Inc.’s Facebook page



REAP Food Group: bringing local food into our schools

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With your support REAP Food Group can:  

  • *Provide fresh fruit and vegetable snacks to more elementary students through garden bars and healthy snacks  
  • *Teach Farm to School lessons in more classrooms  
  • *Buy more food from local farmers  
  • *Serve more healthy produce to 25,000 students

Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired: CHIP® Chat on welcoming visually impaired diners

Insightful DiningWhat happens when a person who is blind comes into your restaurant? Do you feel comfortable being the server at the table? What assistance is helpful? What do you do about the dog

From 6:00-7:00 pm on February 1, join The Wisconsin Council for the Blind and Visually Impaired at Willy Street Co-op West  to hear some thoughts on welcoming and interacting with diners with vision impairment. Our emphasis will be on restaurants, with most tips useful for any business. You will leave knowing how to create an enjoyable visit for persons with vision impairment.

Goodies, provided by persons who cook without looking, will be offered during the participatory demonstrations. This class may be helpful to anyone who has customers, family or friends with vision impairment.

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign: urging all citizens to register to vote!

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 1.57.48 PMWisconsin Democracy Campaign has been among the pro-democracy groups–along with the Madison City Clerk and community leaders–to urge every citizen to register to vote.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin stressed that every qualified citizen “has the right to cast a ballot–but be sure to get registered long before Election Day.” Urge those you know to get registered–learn more here at My Vote Wisconsin.   

Sierra Club Foundation: finding alternatives to interstate expansion

Recently, the Sierra Club Foundation-John Muir Chapter worked with 25 other groups (among them Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 1.49.27 PM1000 Friends of Wisconsin and the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation) to oppose a $1 billion expansion of I-94 in Milwaukee–and thanks to them the plan is now on hold.

After analyzing  traffic trends and area needs, the coalition instead called for investing in local transportation and transit systems. The less costly transit alternatives would give much-needed access to jobs, health care, and other services for those who don’t or can’t drive. The coalition continues working to convince the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to replace the expansion plan with a transit alternative.

Madison Audubon: watching out for our winged friends

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Meet Goose: a snowy owl.

Last winter, Goose chose an airport for his hunting grounds–a place that made the predator into prey. Madison Audubon Society teamed up with concerned citizens and local raptor experts, then relocated Goose to his namesake: Goose Pond Sanctuary.

Unfortunately, Goose’s story isn’t unique. As our environment evolves, big birds face new challenges arise. But you can make a difference for birds–support Madison Audubon Society and inspire new generations of environmental stewards in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired: helping Ron see his future

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 3.41.13 PMTeacher, author, athlete, student, husband, father, and occasional dishwasher: The titles that describe Ray Comeau are endless. Now, he adds another to the list: Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired Low Vision Clinic client.

Ray admits that he’s not sure what’s next for him as he continues to lose his vision. But, he knows that with support from his community, he will maintain his active academic lifestyle. “I’m so grateful,” shares Ray. “[Education and Vision Services Director Jean Kalscheur] came to my house with ideas and [a magnifier for my computer]. It made all the difference in the world!”

Wisconsin Farmers Union: CHIP® Chat on GMOs

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All you need to know about GMOs! Check out this upcoming CHIP® Chat with Wisconsin Farmer’s Union and Willy Street Co-op on January 21.

Arts Wisconsin: “Getting Away,” getting inspired with Ignite Madison

Arts Wis logoInspiration is everything–find yours at Ignite Madison on Tuesday, January 19, at the High Noon Saloon.

Ignite may be an evening of presentations by people with an idea to share, but is is far from a lecture. In over 100 cities across the globe, participants use 20 autoadvancing slides to provide a 5 minute glimpse into their personal or professional passions.

The first of three Ignite Madison events this year, the presentations on the evening of the 19 will be centered around one theme and one organization: “Getting Away” with Arts Wisconsin. The stories shared will be from ten individuals who have found or continue to find unique ways to step away from their current lifestyle, home, day-to-day routine, mindset and more for a multitude of reasons.

To attend, purchase tickets ahead of time here for $9, or at the door for $14. Additionally, Ignite has a limited amount of special group packages available with 5 tickets for $25. The event will be filmed and live streamed here by Hinckley Productions.

All proceeds benefit Arts Wisconsin.


Wisconsin League of Women Voters: preparing for politics in 2016

LWV LogoCan’t wait for the presidential elections in November? Wondering whether or not your photo ID is valid? No worries! Check out Andrea Kaminski’s recent guest column in the Wisconsin State Journal.

The Executive Director of the League of Women Voters has provided all you need to know about state and national elections, voter registration, and ensuring that you’re informed at the polls.

Click here to read more!

WCCN: CHIP® Chat on helping Latin American entrepreneurs through microfinance

WCCNIt’s the little things that make the biggest difference–and the micro-loans that change lives at the macro level in Latin America.

Join Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN) for a CHIP Chat from 6:00-7:00 pm on February 10 at Willy Street Co-op West and on February 16 at Willy Street Co-op East!

Learn about how microfinance loans to organizations and farming cooperatives in Latin America can help people accomplish their entrepreneurial dreams.


Environmental Member Groups: Capitol conversations about Wisconsin wetlands

Resolve to make 2016 the year to make your political voice heard!

swamp-1017458__180The Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA), the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters (WLCV), and the Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA) urge you to attend not one, but TWO hearings at the State Capitol in Madison at 11 AM and noon TODAY!

If passed, Senate Bill 464 and Assembly Bill 600 will make it easier for frac sand mining companies, factory farmers, and developers to build on Wisconsin wetlands.

Your personal testimony and presence is the most effective way to make make a statement to our legislators, but for there are other ways to make your opinion heard! For more information on the bills in question, specific Capitol rooms in which discussions will be held, and talking points for the hearings, visit the links below:

WWA Talking Points:

Take Action Online with WLCV and MEA:


Women in Transition: safety, dignity, caring support help women heal


What are you grateful for this year? For Kay, it’s Women in Transition (WIT), which offers a “safe, unique, and exceptional living arrangement” for women living with severe mental illness. Kay saw this firsthand, since her sister lived at a WIT group home.

“WIT is a very caring environment. The living arrangements are spotless, and there are common areas for the women to talk, eat, and watch TV. In addition, their medical needs are monitored. The women are treated with respect, dignity, and affection.”  

Wisconsin Wetlands Association: training new caretakers of our land

Don in Wetlands

“We’re only caretakers of the land for a short while,” Don Koepsel said. Though in Don’s case his land, which includes a high-quality marsh, has been in his family for over five generations.

When Don signed up for a wetland landowner workshop from Wisconsin Wetlands Association, he also signed up his 12-year-old grandson, Aiden. “It was an opportunity for the two of us to learn more about wetlands,” said Don, who plans to pass his property on to his grandkids. Now, thanks to WWA and Don, Aiden has some of the expertise he needs as future steward of the land.   

Wheels for Winners: biking to a better community

Wheels for Winners
Many children get bikes for Christmas. But Jack? He earned his by volunteering 25 hours at East Madison Community Center, reading to children and serving meals. This is thanks to
Wheels for Winners, which gives refurbished bikes to low-income children who earn the bikes by volunteering for our community.

Keep up the good work, Jack–and Wheels for Winners!

Common Wealth: giving the gift of financial stability

Small Group Common Wealth Development“I learned that I am capable of doing things and getting them done on time; at work and school I am meeting expectations.”

In 2014, Common Wealth Development’s Youth Program provided 109 disadvantaged youth in the Greater Madison community with employment and financial education.

Help Common Wealth give Wisconsin youth the gift of future financial stability this holiday season.

Donate today!


Working Capital for Community Needs: investments in the poor pay dividends

Tony Kroll and Nicaraguan Woman
Fr. Tony Kroll says, “In living with the poor, I have learned a great deal. I learned to break the negative stereotypes so present in our culture about poor people and how they spend their money or take advantage of opportunities given to them. The poor are some of the most responsible, resilient, and strong people–and I am proud to invest with them.”

By making micro-loans through Working Capital for Community Needs, Fr. Kroll says that he has, “seen the positive difference access to credit can make in the lives of the poor. When you invest in microfinance, you are employing people. It is my belief that building up systems that support the poor in this way will lead to a more functional and just society. I actively refer people to invest with WCCN . . . ”


Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice: Just Dining Guide now available!

How do you support your values when you dine out? To find out which restaurants offer good pay—and benefits—to their employees, check out the just-released Just DininJust Dining Dec 2015g Guide from Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice. It’s a great resource, and we applaud ICWJ’s work!

Housing Initiatives: Erik’s “saving grace” in giving him a home

Erik--Housing Initiatives

Housing Initiatives is my saving grace. It’s a quiet place where I’ve been able to heal my mind. Housing Initiatives allows people to be as good as they possibly can be. I just keep getting better and better. I’m now finishing school and will soon be placed in a computer-help job. I would be on the street or in a hospital if it weren’t for them.”

Homeless or in mental institutions/hospitals for 15 years

Visit Housing Initiative’s page for more information on their work to provide stable, affordable housing to people like Erik!

Wisconsin Wetlands Association: Working to stem the tide on damage to wetlands

Wetland“The same wetlands that . . . thousands of sportsmen and nature lovers worked so hard to successfully protect through legislation in 2001” are at risk in Wisconsin, says the Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA).

A newly introduced bill in the legislature would make it easier to destroy our state’s “non-federal” wetlands.WWA is urging its members and the public to contact their legislators.

WWA says, “The proposed changes are part of a larger package designed to give private property owners much greater freedom to build in, on, or near, lakes, rivers, and wetlands. More dredging, more lakefront development, and a whole host of other damaging practices would be allowed.”

ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation: Organizing panel on youth activism


ACLU of Wisconsin
 youth volunteers recently organized a panel
discussion on youth activism, in conjunction with the screening of the documentary Romeo is Bleeding. The film details activist Donté Clark’s journey to create an urban adaptation of Romeo and Juliet with the hope of inspiring dialogue around the topic of violence.

Wisconsin Family Ties: Breakfast with Santa Dec 12

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On the twelfth day of Christmas, Wisconsin Family Ties is giving its supporters a FREE Breakfast with Santa! Wisconsin Family Ties promotes children’s mental health through support, education, and advocacy for families.

Visit Good Shepherd Parish between 9 am and noon on December 12 for some scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, and beverages. You won’t want to miss an opportunity to make new ornaments and meet with St. Nick for some early Christmas gifts and photo opps!

Space is limited, so RSVP to 608-267-6834 by December 9 to reserve your place at the table.

Working Capital for Community Needs: micro-loans for over 30,000 people this year

Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN) is currently investing nearly $11 million

Marisol Havesting Beans

in 6 countries in Latin America with microfinance and fair trade agriculture partners, serving over 30,000 people this year.

If you too become a micro-finance investor with WCCN, you’ll help:

  • Low-income entrepreneurs and small-scale farmers with micro-loans—people whose poverty excludes them from getting loans via the traditional banking system
  • Women like Marisol, shown here, who are empowered to start small businesses to support their families

Women in Transition: horses help improve mental health

WIT @ Pine Dance Ranch

Women in Transition went on a road trip to Pine Dance Ranch, Inc. and met WIT staff member Emma Werner’s horses, Sapphire and Cadence. A big thanks goes out to Emma and WIT Executive Director Kathleen Lemke for coordinating the event and Can Do Cowgirls for providing some excellent riding attire!

Women In Transition provides residential and social services to adult women who experience a severe and persistent mental illness. Click here to learn more about their nonprofit work:

Member Groups and Nonprofit Supporters: a thank you

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Happy Thanksgiving!

From everyone here at Community Shares of Wisconsin to all 67 of our member nonprofits and countless supporters, we send our thanks for your unending support on our mission to improve Wisconsin communities!

Wheels for Winners: summer reading to bike riding

Wheels for Winners

New bike:  25 hours of volunteer work.

The feeling of accomplishment that TK received by engaging in his Madison community? Priceless

As a Wheels for Winners participant, 13-year-old TK went above and beyond, spending a total of 100 hours assisting with the Monona Public Library’s Summer Reading Program, and receiving a bike in the process. You are a true role model, TK—keep up the good work!

Common Wealth: getting down to business with Madison high school students

Common Wealth @ West HighA high school junior with an ankle bracelet courtesy of curfew violations and disorderly conduct: AJ was the perfect candidate for Common Wealth’s Business Mentoring Program, a “mini job that got me prepared” to take AJ to the next level.

Though he was previously involved in activities like petty theft, the opportunities that he saw as possible through Common Wealth convinced him that he needed to think long term.

Common Wealth helped AJ harness his internal drive and find a job at a local pet store where his managers were more concerned with his potential for growth rather than his past mistakes: “I got over thinking about just myself all the time…now I’m a better person in general,” said AJ about the help he received from Common Wealth.

Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice: holiday peace wreath workshops

Peace Wreath

This year, swap out those busy Black Friday lines for a relaxing Buy Nothing Day spent with family and friends! Starting November 27, the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice is offering a how-to make your own evergreen peace wreath workshop at the OM Build Tiny Houses Village near East High School.

Registration is required at least one week in advance. A donation of $50-100 is suggested for time and provision of locally gathered materials—all proceeds go to WNPJ.

Don’t have time to buy a wreath? No worries! Order by November 26 for a pre-made wreath at $75.

Click Here for Registration Information



End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: empowering youth with knowledge

Approximately one in three U.S. adolescent girls is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a datingTeen Council 2

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin
 is working to increase young people’s knowledge about preventing abuse and the actions that should be taken if it does occur. The nonprofit is working to keep the state’s youth safe through it’s Teen Dating Violence project and team of Teens and Teen Dating Violence (TDV) Prevention Educators from all over Wisconsin.

Friends of Wisconsin State Parks: thanks for honoring CSW!

Thanks for the great event and recognition, Friends of Wisconsin State Parks! You named Community Shares of Wisconsin as your Community Partner for 2015. It’s such an honor–thanks for all you do for our communities and our parks statewide!

Housing Initiatives: helping veterans find homes


Mike Low-Res


“Now that I have a home, I’m recovering from PTSD and I’ve found my way out of the dark tunnel. Soon, I’ll likely leave Housing Initiatives because I’ll be able to find employment again.”

Desert Storm veteran, homeless for 4 years

Visit Housing Initiatives page for more information on their work to provide stable, affordable housing to people like Mike!

GSAFE: working to reverse the stats on LGBTQ youth

“As a board member of GSAFE and as a nurse, the statistics on risk factors for our LGBTQ youth have saddened me and galvanized my commitment to changing the lindgrenellenworld in which we live, however small the sphere of influence that I have,” said Ellen.
“To help me on that path, the antiracist training offered to the GSAFE board has greatly informed my work in the school district as we address inequities. As a believer in the power of education, I’m hopeful that with organizations like GSAFE, and the youth leaders who push our schools and communities to change, indeed it will get better.”


Common Wealth: affordable housing to “meet people’s daily needs”

John Wroten left crop“If you want to stabilize these neighborhoods, you really need to get people working and get some decent, affordable housing,” said John Wroten, a community organizer for Common Wealth (left, in photo). “With people living in poverty, they need to meet their daily needs.”

Common Wealth now has a total of 20 affordable housing units in the Meadowood neighborhood. About 1 in 4 of Common Wealth’s residents are disabled, 1 in 3 are people of color, and about half are families.

ABC for Health: successful appeal for Medicaid in autism diagnosis

abclogo_since94 JPG“Jake” might have had just celebrated his 13th birthday. However, the medical records reviewed to determine that he would lose Katie Beckett Medicaid—to cover the services associated with his autism diagnosis—were outdated, from 10 years earlier. ABC for Health helped his mother, “Jill,” prepare documents she’d need to appeal the decision. After her appeal succeeded, Jill told ABC staff that without their help, she never would have known where to begin to challenge the denial.

Wisconsin Farmers Union Foundation: join CHIP Chat on truth in labeling

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Join Wisconsin Farmers Union Foundation for a CHIP Chat tonight, November 5, 6-7 p.m., on “A Farmer’s Perspective on International Trade.” You’ll learn what you can do to stand up for truth in food labeling, for environmental and labor standards, and more. You’ll also find out where our U.S. Congressional representatives stand on trade issues.

The CHIP Chat is at Willy Street Co-op East; call them to reserve your spot: 251-6776.


Member Groups: working together to fight CAFO pollution

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Clean food. Clean water. Clean air. But factory farms have the potential to wreak havoc on our precious natural resources—which is why some groups are planning a Stink-In on November 7.

As Wisconsin citizens, we have a right to a high quality of life. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) have polluted our resources with e. coli and produced enough agricultural runoff from manure to create a 30-mile wide dead zone in Green Bay.

Join Midwest Environmental Advocates, Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter, River Alliance of Wisconsin, The Progressive, and our partner, Willy Street Co-op, on the State Street steps of the Capitol Saturday, November 7, at 1 PM.

Raise a Stink to defend your rights to a clean life as a Wisconsin citizen!

GSAFE: empowering young people like Amy

GSAFEAmy Crop empowers young LGBTQ people and allies—but Amy’s quote says it better than we can. “Being a part of the GSAFE community shaped me into the leader I am today. I was a peer mentor at the Leadership Training Institute, and it was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. Mentoring youth like me and helping them become leaders, too, was so incredible! I hope that by the time I graduate high school I can move on to college and become the activist there that I’ve become here.”


Midwest Environmental Advocates: helping Farms Not Factories keep Lake Superior Clean


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People who are passionate about our environment, and sustainably sourced food: come to the Farms Not Factories “Stink-in” on November 7 on the steps of the State Capitol 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Why a Stink-In? Because Farms Not Factories is trying to protect groundwater, with help from Midwest Environmental Advocates’ law center. A proposed, 26,000-hog confinement in Bayfield County could produce 6.5 million gallons of liquid manure annually—and the waste could easily affect drinking water and area streams, all less than eight miles from Lake Superior. Be there on the 7th to help protect our state’s water resources!


ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation: fighting restrictive Voter ID laws


TVoter IDhe ACLU of Wisconsin went to court recently, seeking to expand the list of acceptable identification to include IDs for veterans and students attending technical colleges, as well as out-of-state driver’s
licenses. Their request was rejected in federal court.

However they’re not giving up—because so many of us “face barriers due to the limited forms of ID mandated under the state’s restrictive voter ID law. It’s unconscionable that even veterans, who have so valiantly served our country, can’t use their government-issued IDs under this law. . . . We are looking at our next steps as we continue efforts to dismantle these obstacles to voting,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

Midwest Environmental Advocates: petitioning the EPA for Clean Water Act enforcement

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This week, on behalf of petitioners from across Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Advocates filed a Petition for Corrective Action with the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency to bring our state back into compliance with the Clean
Water Act
. Wisconsin citizens petitioning the EPA have long-
standing water problems from poor enforcement of the landmark federal law.

The petition asked the EPA “to require our state Department of Natural Resources to issue water pollution permits in compliance with the Clean Water Act,” said MEA attorney Tressie Kamp.

ABC for Health: saying “yes” to asserting patient rights

abclogo_since94 JPG“No” was not something that “Becky” had time for when worrying about her 12-year-old son “Derek’s” health.
After Derek (who has Down syndrome and leukemia) had been approved for a clinical trial of T Cell Therapy, Becky was then verbally denied some of the essential steps for treatment. ABC for Health’s attorneys made many phone calls to hospitals and Medicaid offices to help resolve the issue. They equipped Becky with the information she needed to properly assert her rights for Derek’s treatment.

Legal Action: From sexual assault victim to victor

Mother and Child Shadow StockEven prison bars were not enough to free 13-year-old “Jennifer” from her rapist, a distant family member. She became pregnant from the rape and had the baby, but at age 14 she was victimized again. Human services, the child support enforcement agency, and a civil court pressured Jennifer to establish paternity in order to get child support from the rapist and, lacking legal help, she agreed to do so.
There were two problems with that. First, Jennifer wanted nothing to do with the rapist. Though he was in prison for sexual assault of a minor, he would be released in a few years, and he was already demanding visitation rights. Second, Legal Action of Wisconsin, the nonprofit that later began helping her, noted that the law prohibits pursuing paternity for child support purposes when a child is conceived as a result of rape, and the law also protects minors from these sorts of enforced decisions.

Legal Action’s staff successfully represented her and reversed the parental determination. Jennifer is now able to focus on getting her college degree and raising her son, an honor student. Legal Action’s help took a big weight “off my shoulders,” she says.

Chrysalis: helping those with mental illness reach their goals—and dreams

Chrysalis helps those with mental illness find and keep jobs—and one Chrysalis staffer learned from the case manager that Bob’s situation mighMan stacking cardboard boxes on dollyt be challenging. It wasn’t any sort of unpleasantness on Bob’s part, it was his intense shyness and sensitivity.

But the social symptoms of Bob’s mental illness were not going to stop him from pursuing his goal of getting a job. Sue, the Operations Manager at a large department store, was wonderful. In interviewing him she drew him out, was gentle and encouraging, and gave Bob the position as a backroom associate—a job that he has held for over six months now. Working has made Bob ready to engage, joke, become more financially independent—he’s even saving for a car.

Chrysalis helps people achieve their work goals.


Disability Rights Wisconsin: speak for yourself

Audrey Nelson

“People sometimes are afraid to speak up, but I say go ahead! There will always be someone who says … they will speak for you. You need to say no, I speak for me … [otherwise] we lose our truth.”

Audrey, who suffered a brain injury in a car accident, encourages others with disabilities to advocate for themselves. She is one of thousands of people who have joined with Disability Rights Wisconsin to work for policies and laws to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

League of Women Voters of Wisconsin: protecting non-partisanship

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign are two of the groups opposing a legislative move to disband the state’s nonpartisan Government Accountability LWV LogoBoard (GAB). The legislature’s plan is to replace the GAB with a system that is vulnerable to
partisanship and cronyism.

The League points out that our state’s GAB is hailed by national elections experts as the top model in nonpartisan election administration. If anything, the League and other groups believe that lawmakers should provide the funding necessary to accomplish the vision the lawmakers originally had when they first created the GAB.

REAP Food Group: a slice of the state

PiePaloozaCropTake a bite and take a trip around the state–join REAP Food Group on Sunday, October 18, for Pie Palooza, a brunch celebrating Wisconsin-grown ingredients.

Pick a savory option (like Water House Food’s Pumpkin Quiche) and a sweet slice for dessert (Willy Street Co-op has pledged some Apple Pie). There will be four timed seatings between 9:30 AM and 1:30 PM—but there will be a plethora of pies to choose from all morning long that kids and adults will enjoy.

Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door of the Goodman Community Center.

Community GroundWorks: “Art in the Garden” at Overture

Community GroundWorks’Art in the Garden @ Overture Art in the Garden exhibit will be on display at the Overture’s Playhouse Gallery until October 25. As the Community GroundWorks’ staff explained, “Our hope with the Art in the Garden Project was to expand the idea of outdoor education possibilities. We want to help people discover creative ways to incorporate arts curriculum into their garden spaces.” The Art in the Garden program at schools has been featured recently in the news.

Freedom Inc.: Brittingham Community Garden

Freedom Inc.’s youth help with the fall clean-up at Brittingham Garden Clean-up2 2015Community Garden. The gardens were started a decade ago by a group of Freedom Inc. participants--Hmong women, victims of domestic violence. The Freedom Inc. community has been helping plant, tend, and harvest from the gardens ever since.

Madison Audubon Society: creating outdoor classrooms



Madison Audubon Society created after-school and summer programs for elementary and middle school students, as well as young adults. The goal of these programs was to promote observation, exploration, and discovery of the outdoors in order to increase enjoyment and appreciation of nature.

Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault: Sue isn’t surviving—she’s thriving

StockPhotoForRCCimageShe stared at the floor, startled easily, and ate her lunch alone in silence—but her body language spoke volumes. The mere fact that Sue attended that sexual assault survivor gathering in the fall of 2013 revealed that she had taken a great step forward. A staff person from Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault approached Sue, acknowledging her great strength in coming to the meeting as she began her journey of recovery.

Sue’s story is sadly familiar for those in the sexual assault field: abuse from a family friend as a small child, the use of drugs and alcohol to cope, the unwillingness to go on. It was after her last rape, when the man looked at her as if she was already dead, that she became angry enough to act. After a referral to therapy and support, she realized her abuse was not her fault. She did not just survive, she thrived. Holding her head high, she has embraced self-worth and shares her stories.

Sustain Dane: meet the 2015 Badger Bioneers

Join Sustain Dane on Thursday, October 8, 6:00Bioneers-8:30 p.m. for a cocktail reception at Threshold to celebrate the 2015 Badger Bioneers: Shannon Bunsen, Eric Udelhofen, and Jason Vargo. Sign up too for the Badger Bioneers Conference on November 10. Early bird pricing lasts until October 2.


ABC for Health: proper health coverage is what counts

44,abclogo_since94 JPG000 requests for assistance. 20 years. 1 nonprofit.
Those numbers are impressive, but at ABC for Health their clients are more than a statistic. They help the under-insured or uninsured get access to the health coverage and services they need.

Tenant Resource Center: inspiring work by staff

Said a staff member of the Tenant Resource CenterTRClogo_2color: “Working at the Help Desk is inspiring. I meet people who are sleeping in their cars or outside, or worried about keeping a home for their kids. Yet they still retain their sense of dignity and compassion, and all those things that make us human. I feel like I get back more than I give there.”


Project Home: free home maintenance classes begin in October


Register now for Project Home’s FREE Home Maintenance class series and let the pros show you how to Project Homebest go about painting, protecting, and fixing your plumbing problems. There are also lots of opportunities to get answers to questions about your home’s repair needs.

ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation: dress up as your favorite banned book character

It may be a serious issue, but why not have fun during Banned Books Week? You can go dressed as your favorite banned book character when you join the ACLU of Wisconsin at the Riverwest Public House in Milwaukee on September 29, 5:30-8:00 pm in honor of Oscar Wilde--Quote on banned booksBanned Books Week. (Keep it classy friends, we wouldn’t want to have to ban any inappropriate attire; it’s a family-friendly event.)

Attendees will read from Banned Books, listen to live spoken word from Milwaukee area creatives, play a wicked game of QueerTuesdayTrivia, and enjoy great music, friends, and fun.

Have more to say about forbidden fiction? Join the discussion about banned books in Wisconsin on the Facebook group: “I Read Banned Books – Wisconsin.”




Sustain Dane: sustainability to help deal with climate change

Stephanie, a parent at Lapham Elementary School, wanted to ensure that we’re doing all we can to fend off the impacts of cliLapham Garden Groupmate change, for the sake of her daughter and all young people. Through her participation in Sustain Dane, Growing Outdoor Classrooms, and the MPower Schools Program, Stephanie has helped make Lapham a model school for sustainability efforts.

Wis Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired: Braille repairer extraordinaire

“It feels good to work with my hands,” said Joe. And in the past 25 years, Joe Hodgson has done a lot of that, repairingJoe Hodgson, Braille writer repairman 322 Braille writers as a volunteer for the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired. Joe’s specialized skills are an irreplaceable asset; his experience makes him one of a select few in the Midwest with the ability to maintain “braillers.”

“Without Joe’s services, people would have to send their Braille writers to an out-of-state company that charges a minimum of $50, just to have them looked at,” says Brent Perzentka, Sharper Vision Store Manager.

Legal Action of Wisconsin: assisting disabled former inmates

After 20 yLegal Action of WI Logoears of living within the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, one disabled inmate was able to find his footing with the help of Legal Action of Wisconsin. The DOC contacted Legal Action at the time of the man’s release, and attorneys helped him apply for benefits and empowered him to find and sustain suitable housing for over a year now.

Sustain Dane: mural in Darbo-Worthington

smART [sustainability + madison + art]  is Sustain DaneSustainDane‘s major community-based art initiative designed to engage Madison residents in envisioning a sustainable, just, and healthy future for their own neighborhoods and communities.

REAP Food Group: 70,000 servings of local food to children

Children receiving foodFun Fact Friday: REAP Food Group worked with Madison Metropolitan School District? in the Summer Food Program, coordinating the use of local produce for the free meals served to children for eight weeks in the summer. That means about 70,000 servings (!) of local vegetables at 43 meal sites.

League of Women Voters of Wis: helping people get voter IDs, changing lives

LWVWILeague of Women Voters of Wisconsin member Gail Bliss was recently featured by Penzey’s Spices in an article about Gail’s work to help people get a photo ID for voting. With the new state law in place, Gail and other League members try to make sure that everyone who is eligible to vote can vote. Read how she’s also helped change people’s lives.

Physicians for Social Responsibility-Wis: remembering 70 years – Hiroshima, Nagasaki

LanternsThursday, August 6, marks 70 years since the first U.S. nuclear bombing of Japan, and the Lanterns for Peace event marks the call for a nuclear-free world.  Join in this year’s family-friendly event at Vilas Park in Madison, including floating peace lanterns on the Vilas Park Lagoon.  The event begins at 7:00 p.m., with a program at 7:30.

Lanterns for Peace commemorations are organized worldwide during early August to remember the devastating humanitarian effects of the nuclear bombs used during World War II. The local event is hosted, in part, by member groups Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.

Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault: creating space for survivors to heal

WCASA quiltThe Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault recently created quilt squares to add to the nationwide Monument Quilt Project, a collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape, abuse, and sexual assault. The goal is to create and demand a public space for survivors and communities to heal.

Community GroundWorks: exploring healthy, local food choices

Kids at Troy Community Garden

Part of Community GroundWorks mission is to introduce community members to new foods and encourage a healthy diet. Sometimes, conversations overheard at Troy Community Garden tell this story the best:

“I don’t like peppers. They’re too spicy.”

“Just try a little bit of the green one.”

“I like it! Can I try the orange and the yellow and the red?”

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger: ensuring cleanup of land now passed back to Ho-Chunk

Wisconsin landscapeNearly 1,600 acres that was once part of the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant near Baraboo is being returned to the Ho-Chunk Nation for prairie restoration and a bison project, thanks in part to the efforts of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB). For more than 15 years, members of the Ho-Chunk Nation have served side-by-side with community members on CSWAB’s board of directors, leading the efforts to protect the environmental and ecological resources at Badger.

“The successful land transfer to the tribe is the first step in the restoration of these lands,” said Laura Olah, Executive Director of CSWAB. “Together, we built a community when others tried to push us apart.”

ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation: Syd Robinson lauded for activism in trans community

Syd RobinsonSyd Robinson with the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation was recently named to the national Trans 100, an annual, nationwide list of transgender and gender nonconforming people who are improving the lives of people in the trans community. Congratulations, Syd!

Dane County Time Bank: helping Eve get back on track

Eve and Catherine, her mentorEve was struggling, both in school and with her peers, and was referred to the Dane County TimeBank Youth Court for fighting. The jurors—student leaders—were able to get her to open up about what she was going through at home and school. Eve was sentenced to work with a tutor as well as a mentor (Catherine, shown here with Eve). The result: Eve’s grades went up, she learned new coping skills from Catherine, and the fight was not put in her juvenile record. Eve’s mom praised Youth Court for helping put Eve on a more positive path.

Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired: local disability advocate has firsthand experience

Dave SchuhDave Schuh, owner of Accessibility Pros, has been dubbed “Wisconsin’s adaptive technology guru to the disability community.” Schuh is involved on both a professional and personal level –  He knows firsthand what it’s like to lose your vision.

“When I was losing my sight, I was concentrating on what I couldn’t do anymore, not on what I could do,” he recounted. However, his experience at a ski school for the blind in Colorado changed that outlook, and showed Dave all the things he could still do.

“I wish more people knew about all the resources that are available to people with vision loss—including the programs and services of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired.”

Sierra Club Foundation – John Muir Chapter: rallying supporters to prevent water pollution

Cattle feed lotLast spring, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources held a public hearing to consider increasing the nitrate limit for a cattle farm in Adams County. Before the hearing, the Sierra Club Foundation – John Muir Chapter rallied supporters to oppose the new limit. They wrote newsletter articles, and encouraged people to send comments to the DNR and to testify at the public hearing. As a result of this grassroots activism, the increased pollution limit was denied—and the public health impact on drinking water was avoided.

Wisconsin Women’s Network: connecting women, building relationships

Wisconsin Women's Network LogoUW-Madison student Laurel Kordyban is part of the Wisconsin Women’s Network (WWN) Mentorship Program. This program connects college and professional women in the community to prepare students for the workforce and future success.

“The WWN program was a truly unique and amazing experience for me,” Kordyban said. “Having a genuine connection and friendship with a professional, kind, and encouraging woman helped me feel more connected to this community.”

Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault: creating space for survivors to heal

WCASA quilt 2014The Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault recently created quilt squares to add to the nationwide Monument Quilt Project, a collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape, abuse, and sexual assault. The goal is to create and demand a public space for survivors and communities to heal.

Community GroundWorks: changing eating habits, one vegetable at a time

Kids harvesting vegetables

At Community GroundWorks Troy Kids’ Garden, kids develop a deep and powerful connection with food and nature. Staff found that when children plant a seed, tend that plant, harvest the fruit, and cook it, they develop a new relationship with that food.

And it has the power to transform their eating habits—as one young chef commented while grilling some summer squash, “You know, I eat my fruits and veggies here, and I actually like them!”

Wisconsin Wetlands Association: trainings to help government staff

Government workers participating in training Wisconsin Wetlands Association recently provided field-based trainings to help 50 local government staff from 20 Wisconsin counties improve local wetland policies.

Wisconsin Family Ties: helping kids and supporting families

FamilyWisconsin Family Ties hosts several Family Fun Days statewide—for families that have children or adolescents with social, emotional, or behavioral challenges.  Over 1000 children and family members attend these events.

And it’s not all fun and games; a lot of education and support is offered. Feedback from the families noted:

  • 97% learned more about their child’s diagnosis, treatment options, and available community programs
  • 97% feel they now have somewhere to turn when they need information and support
  • 84% feel more able to cope with their situation
  • 86% feel more hopeful about the future

Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts: transforming young lives with nature

High school student Alisakah BishopGathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts, has earned its reputation as the nation’s premier land trust service center. One of the land trusts it supports, Milwaukee’s River Revitalization Foundation (RRF), gives high school students the chance to get out in the natural world and gain job experience. Staff say it’s amazing to watch the youth transform—from knowing nothing about nature to truly caring about our environment.

As one student, Alisakah, said, “The work that we do is important because we need nature much more than we need basically everything else. . . . It’s going to be here after we’re gone. We need to take care of it.”

The Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault: events are “very powerful for me”

Attendees at a WCASA eventThe Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault holds a Wrap Around the Capitol annually as part of Denim Day. The idea is for lawmakers and the public to learn about the importance of laws and policies to support victims. Denim Day is symbolic—it refers to the overturning of a rape conviction in Europe after a judge decided that the victim’s jeans were so tight that she must have helped remove them. Thus he concluded the act was consensual, not rape.

Those attending the WCASA events say: “The mix of survivors and providers is very powerful for me, thank you.” And “I am excited to have attended the Survivors & Allies conference, and I can’t wait for the next one!”

Wisconsin Wetlands Association: defending wetlands laws

Exploring a wetlands areaHelping defend wetlands laws—it’s part of the mission of Wisconsin Wetlands Association.  Recently, the group worked with private wetland landowners, conservation groups, state and federal agencies, and others to help reform state tax guidelines that had penalized landowners who restore drained wetlands.

Community GroundWorks: feeding families and building community

Sweet potatoes at Troy Community FarmTroy Community Farm, which is part of Community Groundworks, is the first urban farm in the city of Madison. Last year the farm fed approximately 200 families per week for 21 weeks with certified organic vegetables grown on a five-acre parcel of land on Madison’s northside.

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: protecting immigrant women, keeping families together

Women at the Artesia detention campThe attorneys at RISE Law Center, part of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, spent four 18-hour days last Thanksgiving volunteering to help represent female immigrants detained New Mexico’s remote Artesia detention camp, where U.S. immigration enforcement has locked up over 1,000 women and children. The RISE staff wanted victims released to the U.S. so they would not have to return to the dangerous situations they had fled in Central and South America—since up to 75% of these women had suffered sexual or domestic violence.

While in volunteering in Artesia, they witnessed the effects of malnutrition and lack of good medical care for the women and their children. They worked at a frenetic pace to ensure the release of families who were detained simply because no one could communicate with some of these women, who spoke local native dialects.

The work accomplished by these RISE staffers is similar to what they do every day at End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.

ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation: helping emerging voices for justice

ACLU Youth & Program Services Organizer Syd Robinson

Syd Robinson, Youth & Program Services Organizer with the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation, had just completed the “It’s Bigger than Bullying” program for students. One girl approached him and said that images of police brutality against people of color were upsetting to her.

“She told me that as a white person, she didn’t know how to talk about this kind of injustice—she was in a small, mostly white middle school,” Syd explained. “She thought she wasn’t supposed to say anything, because it wasn’t happening to her.”

Syd offered advice, assuring her that her voice mattered and she could make a difference. She said when leaving, “I really needed this. Can I come back next time?”