Eight Madison-area organizations will receive grant funding from the city to do outreach work in three of Fitchburg’s underserved neighborhoods.

The Common Council unanimously approved $68,000 in grant funding at its Tuesday, April 28, meeting as part of its Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative program. Of those funds, grants for workforce development had the largest percentage of the funding, with youth mentoring being the second highest.

Other grant categories include support for abuse survivors, youth and adult education, food insecurity and support for the senior population.

Those grants will go toward outreach in three Fitchburg neighborhoods that have lacked resources for residents – the Verona Road West and the Belmar/Renaissance on the Park neighborhoods in District 1 and the North Fish Hatchery Road neighborhood, which is predominantly in District 3.

Ald. Gabriella Gerhardt (Dist. 2) said she was impressed with the diverse group of funding applicants.

“I love seeing the array of different services that the organizations provide the community,” she said. “I was very impressed with what I saw and very pleased with the potential impact that this is going to have on the city.”

The eligibility rules for HNI grants changed last year after a concern with a potential First Amendment violation arose. The Freedom from Religion Foundation accused Chapel Valley Church of violating separation of church and state by proselytizing at social gatherings that were supported by a $10,000 HNI grant and meant to be secular in nature.

As a result, the city changed eligibility requirements to state that any religious organization would not use the funds for advancement of religion, either directly or indirectly. It also barred school districts from applying.

Ten organizations applied for a combined $79,120 in funding this year, with Dane Arts deemed ineligible because its personnel costs exceeded the requirement for funding. Tri4Schools received no funding for a youth biking, running and strength conditioning club meant to serve the North Fish Hatchery Road area because the club didn’t solve an issue with immediacy.

Three organizations – Badger Prairie Needs Network, Latino Academy of Workforce Development and Unidos – will receive the maximum award of $10,000. BPNN plans to use the grant to partially fund expanded access to its current pantry, located on East Verona Avenue in Verona, and place a new pantry in the Verona Road West neighborhood.

Latino Academy of Workforce Development plans to use the grant to offer CDL training and certifications, as well as computer skills training. Unidos, which provides support to sexual and domestic abuse survivors, plans to use the grant to provide free bilingual and bicultural support to its clients, a quarter of whom live in the city.

Four organizations – Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, Catholic Multicultural Center, NewBridge Madison, Inc. and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County – received grants worth $9,000.

The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County plans to use the grant for youth and adult education with outreach on healthy dental habits, and Catholic Multicultural Center plans to use its grant for workforce development by providing job-training in the culinary industry. NewBridge Madison, Inc., will use its grant to support Latinx senior citizens who are taking care of their grandchildren, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County will increase its recruitment of “Bigs” to match them with “Littles” who have been on waiting lists.

Girls on the Run also received a $2,000 grant.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.

2020 Healthy Neighborhood Initiative recipients

Organization Requested amount Staff recommendation Committee recommendation
BPNN $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County $10,000 $10,000 $9,000
Boys and Girls Club of Dane County $10,000 $8,408 $9,000
Catholic Multicultural Center $10,000 $10,000 $9,000
Latino Academy of Workforce Development $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
NewBridge $9,620 $9,620 $9,000
Girls on the Run $2,000 $0 $2,000
Unidos $10,000 $10,000 $10,000