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The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (the Foundation) is thrilled to announce receipt of a $5 million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

"We are honored that such a prominent national donor is investing in our rural communities," said Dr. Mike Sullivan, Chair of the Foundation Board of Directors. "We are one of very few organizations in Wisconsin to receive such an honor, and I see it as a huge vote of confidence in our community's work to positively impact children and families."

Nationally, only a small percentage of philanthropic dollars make their way to rural regions, where leaders wear many hats and often lack the resources to apply for grants.

Scott is an American novelist and philanthropist who made headlines earlier this year by donating $3.8 billion to just over 400 organizations. On her blog, Scott noted that approximately 60% of the grantee organizations in the spring of 2022 were women-led and 75% were led by "people with lived experience in the regions they support and the issues they seek to address." The $5 million donation to the Foundation belongs to a new round of giving by Scott, the full extent of which has not yet been announced.

The gift dovetails with the five-year anniversary of Every Child Thrives, the Foundation-led partnership that aligns more than 50 Dodge and Jefferson County partner agencies around the shared goals of building strong families, supporting kindergarten readiness, and promoting early school success.

"We are humbled and honored to accept this incredible gift on behalf of our partners across Dodge and Jefferson County," said Tina Crave, Foundation President and CEO. "This spring, we were interviewed by a consulting firm representing an anonymous donor who wanted to learn more about our Every Child Thrives partnership. We were asked how regional partners align resources to shared goals and how the partnership utilizes data to ensure all children have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. To be selected through such a rigorous vetting process is confirmation that our work is on the right track."

Every Child Thrives uses a collective impact approach, which is recognized as a leading model to create lasting social change. By aligning resources around shared goals and agreed-upon measures (including a community scorecard), and focusing on the root causes underlying key health issues, the collaborative makes more of a lasting impact than each organization might in acting alone.

"This investment is recognition of the powerful leadership of our Every Child Thrives partners across the region," said Kathi Cauley, Director of Human Services for Jefferson County and Chair of the Every Child Thrives leadership council. "Our work in ensuring every child gets a good start in life is profound and challenging. We would not attract this type of external investment if not for our shared commitment to community-level goals, good data to guide decision making and humble willingness to continually do better for our children and our community."

The gift will accelerate the Foundation's ability to address key priorities, including improving access to desperately- needed early care and education and increasing the supply of workforce housing. The investment comes at a pivotal time as the Foundation recently announced a $16 million investment in a 55,000 square foot former corporate center and 90 adjacent acres along the Rock River on the city's south side. The corporate center will be repurposed to house a new YMCA Child Care and Early Education Center, a satellite Express YMCA, Jefferson County Head Start, and nonprofit and innovation coworking spaces. The Foundation plans to transform the campus into a thriving work-live-play neighborhood that models best practices in community connectedness, health and wellbeing.

"A donation of this size will allow the Foundation to expand the breadth and depth of our investments, particularly in housing and early care and education. said Crave. "We hope this external investment will inspire our local leader partners to continue co-investing in collaborative efforts to build strong families and communities."

The Foundation's mission is to inspire collaboration, mobilize resources and encourage innovation to measurably improve the wellbeing of our community. Created out of the 2015 joint venture transaction between Watertown Regional Medical Center (WRMC) and LifePoint Health, the Foundation continues to steward WRMC's legacy of community investment, mobilizing endowment earnings from the original transaction along with ongoing charitable contributions from WRMC and investments from local, state and national partners.

Every Child Thrives is led by a Transformation Council, whose role it is to drive our collective work. Its members include:

  • Rebecca Bell, Dodge County Health & Human Services Director
  • Kathi Cauley, Jefferson County Human Services Director
  • Peg Checki, Watertown Public Library Director
  • Elizabeth Chilsen, Jefferson County Public Health Program Manager
  • Tina Crave, Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation President & CEO
  • Suzanne Hoppe, Renewal Unlimited Executive Director
  • Jon Lange, Glacial Community YMCA Chief Executive Officer
  • Carol Quest, Watertown Department of Public Health Director
  • Jarred Burke, Watertown Unified School District Superintendent
  • Jessica Johnson, Dodgeland School District Administrator
  • Mary Ann Weiland, Jefferson County Head Start Director

To date, the foundation has invested more than $34 million in its five strategic, child-focused priorities:

  • strong families
  • kindergarten readiness
  • school success
  • social and emotional wellbeing
  • healthy eating/active living

Every Child Thrives is driven by team members from the following organizations: Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Wisconsin, Church Health Services, City of Watertown, Community Action Coalition for South Central WI, Community Care Preschool & Child Care, Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C), Dodge County Human Services & Health Department, Dodgeland School District, Fort HealthCare, Future All Star's Academy, Gingerbread Preschool and Child Care Center, Good Shepherd Lutheran School, Green Valley Enterprises, Inc. (Dodge County Birth to 3), Hustisford School District, Jefferson County Circuit Court, Jefferson County Head Start, Jefferson County Health Department, Jefferson County Human Services Department, Jefferson County Literacy Council, Johnson Creek Public Library, Juneau Public Library, Kiddie Kampus, Lake Mills Area School District, Mary Linsmeier - Watertown, Reeseville Public Library, Renewal Unlimited, Inc (Dodge County Head Start), Rock River Community Clinic, Safe Families for Children - Jefferson County, School District of Jefferson, Shared Mission Group, St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church & School, The Gathering Source, The Open Door Coffeehouse, Trinity St. Luke's Lutheran School, United Way of Dodge County, United Way of Jefferson & North Walworth Counties, UW-Madison Division of Extension Dodge County, Watertown Area YMCA, Watertown Chamber of Commerce, Watertown Department of Public Health, Watertown Family Connections, Watertown Family Practice, Watertown Police Department, Watertown Public Library, Watertown Regional Medical Center, Watertown Unified School District, Willows Christian Child Care Center, WI Alliance for Infant Mental Health, WI Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Board, and WI Office of Children's Mental Health.

The Foundation's mission is to inspire collaboration, mobilize resources and encourage innovation to measurably improve the wellbeing of our community. Created out of the 2015 joint venture transaction between Watertown Regional Medical Center (WRMC) and LifePoint Health, the Foundation continues to steward WRMC's legacy of community investment, mobilizing endowment earnings from the original transaction along with ongoing charitable contributions from WRMC.

To learn more about the foundation and supported initiatives, visit www.watertownhealthfoundation.com or Facebook at Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation.




The collective logo

The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (the Foundation) is proud to announce the purchase of the former Bethesda Corporate Center and 90 adjacent acres along the Rock River on the city's south side. The Foundation plans to transform the campus into a thriving work-live-play neighborhood that models best practices in community connectedness, health and wellbeing.

Over the next 10 months, the former Corporate Center will be renovated, reopening in the summer of 2023 as The Collective. In 55,000 square feet over three floors, The Collective will house a new YMCA Child Care and Early Education Center, a satellite Express YMCA, Jefferson County Head Start, and nonprofit and innovation coworking spaces. In its entirety, members of The Collective will be a vibrant community of changemakers championing strong families and a prosperous community.

Development of The Collective and adjacent property is an exciting next step toward the Foundation's vision of vibrant communities where everyone enjoys health and wellbeing. The project will also catalyze development in one of the City of Watertown's priority development areas.

"Collaboration is foundational to everything the Foundation does, and this campus will provide many opportunities for community partners to collaborate in improving community vibrancy and wellbeing," said Dr. Mike Sullivan, Foundation Board Chair.

The collective logo

Since 2017, the Foundation has facilitated Every Child Thrives, a partnership of 50+ agencies across Dodge and Jefferson Counties working to ensure all children thrive in health, learning and life. The Collective campus investment is designed to accelerate transformative impact toward Every Child Thrives' strong families and prosperous community goals. The community benefits of this project include:

  • Creation of a new, high-quality early care and education center with capacity to serve 126 children.
  • Nonprofit service colocation so families can access wrap-around supports in one, convenient location.
  • Sharing of office space, resources and services to provide efficiencies for nonprofit service providers, allowing agencies to focus time and attention on those they serve.
  • Shared professional development to advance community impact.
  • Wellness programming to support healthy lifestyle and strengthen community.
  • 80+ acres of housing development. A needs assessment is being completed now and a community master planning process will launch in late 2022 to identify how the neighborhood can address the housing shortage affecting all demographic groups in our region.

"The Collective is more than just a work space," says Tina Crave, Foundation President & CEO. "It's a catalyst for our mission, which is to inspire collaboration, mobilize resources and encourage innovation that measurably contributes to the wellbeing of our community."

The Collective will serve as an innovation center, piloting best practices for childcare business sustainability. Outreach from The Collective to early care and education providers across Dodge and Jefferson Counties will connect providers with resources to improve quality of care and operational effectiveness.

The Watertown Area YMCA also announced plans for The Collective to be the future home of the new, full-size YMCA. The YMCA would be developed in two phases based on the support of community donors. Phase one would relocate current operations from the old Watertown High School with amenities including a Gymnasium, Wellness & Free Weight Center, aerobic activity studios and Youth Center. The second phase would center on the addition of a state-of-the-art aquatic facility for instruction, recreation and water safety. The YMCA will release details of future plans as they become funded.

A shared investment in community

"The Collective is a dream we've explored behind the scenes for many years," says Crave. "After exploring several options, from building new to repurposing space, we are excited to bring these dreams to life at this location."

Total capital costs to purchase the 90 acres, renovate and finish the 55,000 square foot Collective are budgeted at $16 million. Jefferson County and Dodge County have each allocated $200,000 and the City of Watertown has allocated $400,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to support The Collective's goals of increasing access to quality child care across the region.

"One of the goals our city council set was to use our ARPA funds in a manner that the impact of the funds lasted well beyond the funding itself," Mayor Emily McFarland said. "There is no doubt about it that our community needs more child care slots; I've seen the data and I've heard it during nearly every business visit I've done. I'm thankful to the Foundation for leading this effort, to the YMCA for being an incredible community partner, and to the city council for allocating this level of involvement. It will make an incredible impact on workforce availability, on the families in our community, and on the children in care. In government, you don't always get the opportunity to be a proactive and strategic leader of change; I'm thrilled we get to be a part of that with this project."

In addition to serving as the new headquarters for the Foundation, The Collective will serve as home for the following agencies:

Watertown Area YMCA

A cornerstone partner in this project, the YMCA will open a new Child Care and Early Education Center and a satellite Express YMCA in 2023.

  • The Child Care and Early Education Center will provide high quality, 5-star accredited care with space for 126 children, including twice as many infant and toddler positions as a typical Center would hold. The Center will offer better than industry average wages for staff and the Y intends to develop collaborative relationships with area businesses related to childcare fees for their employees. These strategies aim to further support and stabilize the child care industry as a whole.
  • The Express YMCA will offer 24 hour access to health and wellness opportunities for all levels, including cardio equipment, weight machines, and group exercise spaces for traditional classes, small group training, and virtual/on-demand classes. The space will have amenities that cater to those who are new or returning to exercise. An EGYM circuit will offer personalized workouts that are effective and fun with technology that tailors the experience for each specific individual. "We like to say it's the last new space of the old YMCA and the first space of the new YMCA (to be added)" said Jon Lange, YMCA Chief Executive Officer.
  • Future plans include the relocation of existing YMCA operations to The Collective with a new, full facility YMCA.

Jefferson County Head Start - A federal- and state-funded preschool program focusing on school readiness for 3-5 year old children, at no cost to eligible families.

AbleLight (formerly Bethesda) - Provides life-changing services that empower people with developmental disabilities to achieve their full potential.

Community Action Coalition - A nonprofit working to end poverty and help people live better lives.

Safe Families for Children - A professionally supported volunteer movement dedicated to providing "extended family-like supports" to local families facing a crisis.

Jefferson County Human Services - Enhancing the quality of life for individuals and families living in Jefferson County by addressing their needs in a respectful manner and enabling citizens receiving services to function as independently as possible, while acknowledging their cultural differences.

Innovation coworking space - This coworking space invites community changemakers from all backgrounds and sectors into The Collective. A selective leasing process will prioritize civic-minded entrepreneurs and businesses who are looking to share space with a network of community changemakers.

Leases will include private workspace with wraparound amenities that foster connection and provide efficiencies, including:

  • Shared, technology equipped conference rooms
  • "The Atrium" a networking and event space with a grand view
  • Private Zoom rooms
  • Quarterly networking and collaboration events
  • Shared professional development and networking
  • Onsite early care and fitness facilities
  • Shared café space
  • Shared utilities and services (wifi, printing, lawn care, waste removal)

Benefits for all

The Collective is a shared investment in community prosperity, ultimately lifting families, agencies, volunteers and businesses.

  • Families will benefit from the addition of badly-needed early care and education slots, along with convenient access to a variety of support services.
  • Children will enjoy a five-star learning environment, preparing them for success at school.
  • Volunteers will enjoy a coordinated approach that connects them with meaningful, timely tasks that benefit a variety of agencies.
  • Agencies can strengthen their reach and effectiveness with:
    • Reduced operating costs (economies of scale, stable and affordable office space, shared services), and
    • Broadened capacity, impact and sustainability (resources, professional development, collaboration and operational support).
  • The community will enjoy vibrant new civic spaces.
  • Civic-minded entrepreneurs and businesses can find a home that is much more than just office space, joining a forward-thinking community of changemakers.

Renovation plans and Timeline

  • August, 2022 Purchase property Begin remodeling The Collective
  • Fall, 2022 YMCA will kick off capital fundraising campaign to raise funds for a full new YMCA Community members will be invited to participate in a Master Planning process for future neighborhood development
  • Spring, 2023 The Collective opens
To date, the foundation has invested more than $14 million in its five strategic, child-focused priorities:
  • strong families
  • kindergarten readiness
  • school success
  • social and emotional wellbeing
  • healthy eating/active living

To learn more about the foundation and supported initiatives, visit www.watertownhealthfoundation.com or Facebook at Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation.




The opportunity: Who can parents turn to when things get tough? For some, it's trusted family members. Others may have a close circle of friends. Unfortunately, too many families are going it alone. Some struggling parents just don't have people nearby they can turn to.

That's where Safe Families for Children (Safe Families) comes in. Safe Families provides family-like supports to parents experiencing social isolation. Active in over 40 states, Canada and the UK, Safe Families was established in Wisconsin in 2014.

Safe Families is a network of volunteers who help isolated families get back on their feet. The volunteer community helps support families during a temporary crisis or difficult season.

The solution: The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (GWCHF) is proud to have provided a $200,000 capacity building grant to support the startup of Safe Families for Children in Dodge and Jefferson Counties.

The results: Over the past two years, the organization has grown from two partner churches to ten, and has over 60 volunteer families ready to serve their neighbors. Since launching services to families just over a year ago, over 15 families (29 children) have received support from Safe Families in Dodge and Jefferson Counties.

What makes Safe Families different?

First, parents remain in control throughout the process.

"We are different because we are about relationships," says Amanda Combs, Director of Development for Safe Families for Children of Dodge and Jefferson Counties. "Everything about our program is voluntary and the parent drives their own goals."

Second, "host families" are volunteers (though they are thoroughly screened and trained, including a home safety check). As volunteers, they do not receive income when they provide temporary respite care. They simply want to reach out to neighbors in need.

Finally, Safe Families focuses on building trusted, extended family-like relationships. It's more about connections than services.

"My partner and I are still ‘Auntie' and ‘Uncle' to kids we have hosted," says Combs. "They're family friends now."

What kinds of support are available?

When a family connects with Safe Families, the first step may be accessing "family friends." These are volunteers who can offer hot meals, babysitting, transportation help, and a connection in the community. There are also trained volunteer coaches who can partner with parents or guardians on their goals. Finally, if needed, a host family can temporarily care for children, even overnight, as parents work toward their goals. Again, the parent remains in charge, with full guardianship of their children, during this voluntary process.

"In reality, many families reach out for support without ever having their children hosted," says Combs. "It's about extra support and strengthening families."

To learn more about Safe Families for Children in our region, please call 920-400-3019 or visit jeffersondodge.safe-families.org.

To date, the foundation has invested more than $14 million in its five strategic, child-focused priorities:

  • strong families
  • kindergarten readiness
  • school success
  • social and emotional wellbeing
  • healthy eating/active living

GWCHF is currently accepting applications for capacity building grants. To learn more about the foundation and supported initiatives, visit www.watertownhealthfoundation.com or Facebook at Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation.




Great nutrition helps build great kids. It's no surprise that studies link high-quality nutrition to physical health, but research also shows that food plays a role in children's behavior, cognitive performance and academic achievement.

With kids spending so much time—and so many calories—at school, the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (GWCHF) partnered with the Johnson Creek School District as it re-envisioned its foodservice program.

Our investment: $210,300 over three school years 

Over three years, beginning with the 2018-19 school year, we invested $210,300 in the Johnson Creek School District's effort to transform their school foodservice program. Their mission? "To fuel our children with tasty, nutritious meals made primarily from fresh, whole ingredients and to model and teach food skills to create lifelong healthy habits."

GWCHF dollars supported resources, training and technical assistance along the way, as Johnson Creek School District turned their operation upside down. The process included a kitchen designed to support from-scratch cooking and baking; staff training; and lots of time planning, testing and sourcing. 

"Our school board made a long-term commitment to this and recruited a foodservice director who would be able to implement our vision," says Johnson Creek School Superintendent Michael Garvey. "No more cardboard chicken nuggets from the government. We understand the benefits of better meals for our kids, and see it as just another part of doing business. It's an annual investment and the dividends are not counted in dollars." 

"Everybody understood the importance of feeding children quality food," says Foodservice Director Kassidy Wright. "I had full support from the school board, superintendent, and principals." 

One example of this district-wide support? A change to lunchtime schedules. Principals at elementary and high school rearranged academic schedules to ensure that kids had more time for lunch. 

"Not just food but good food and quality food helps our academics," says Middle and High School Principal Neil O'Connell. "What they're eating is reflected in the classroom. The better their food intake, the better their behavior in the classroom." 

District support was vital to the program's success. Buy-in from school foodservice team members was also crucial. "At first there was some apprehension," says Wright. "Staff were worried about additional work. But once they started to see the benefits, that they could be more proud of their work, their attitude changed."  "I am just so thankful for my staff and all of the hard work they put in every day to make this program a success," says Wright.

District leadership? Check. Foodservice staff? Check. But what about the students themselves (and their tastebuds)? 

Creative tactics included a traveling cart that brought breakfast and snacks to the students, regular sampling of new from-scratch food items, marketing on the school website and social media page—even strategically-timed training that tempted educators to taste the new fare on their in-service days. 

At the elementary level, they implemented "Try-It Thursdays." "It was a great way for students to try new foods," says Elementary Principal Melissa Enger. "For some, it might be the only time they're getting such nutritious foods. The kids really loved that."

Taste testing aside, there were also new skills to learn. "The garden bar was new," says Wright. "The younger kids needed to learn how to serve themselves. Some of them were just mounding their plates with carrots. They needed guidance and education on how much to take. It was a great learning opportunity." 

A pandemic, a frantic scramble, and unexpected benefits

The fledgling program was dealt a huge blow when schools went to at-home, virtual learning during the pandemic. On the plus side: school breakfast and lunch were temporarily free for all students (removing a barrier to participation for students of all ages). But the meals now needed to reach students, necessitating huge changes in prep, packaging and delivery.  

One advantage for Johnson Creek School District? Small size and strong leadership helped them remain agile. They adapted, and adapted again during this challenging time. They leveraged an underutilized bussing contract (that was still being paid for) to aid with delivery, extra kitchen staff which minimized overtime and stress, and help from outside the foodservice program.

"We'd help them load the busses," recalls Garvey. "All these meals, marked by family name and address." 

"Some school districts were struggling to provide the bare minimum, while we were making fresh lunches and breakfasts and delivering them," says Wright. "It was a great chance to impress parents." 

From the time of pandemic-related school closure in March to the end of the school year in June, they delivered 35,000 meals, averaging 800 meals a day delivered to children. 

Post-pandemic, supply chain issues continue to impact school foodservice across the nation. According to a USDA survey released in March 2022, some 92% of school meal programs are experiencing challenges due to supply chain disruptions.  Products are not available, orders are arriving with missing or substituted items, and shortages of cooks, food prep personnel, drivers and maintenance staff continue.

"We've had plenty of supply chain issues," says Garvey. "We've had a milk plant closure, a bread company that couldn't get wheat, and a strike at one of the plants. When that happens, we've just figured out how to go somewhere else." 

In Johnson Creek, the agility and adaptability of the program, along with some government waivers allowing them to, say, purchase whole cows directly, has meant better outcomes.  

"We rely less on prepackaged food," says O'Connell. "We are fortunate to have more options than a typical school foodservice setup."

 

"Some districts are so tied to their foodservice providers, or have complicated bidding processes," says Garvey. "Purchasing our own cows was a little less expensive, but it was also better quality and we feel great about supporting local farmers." 

Measuring success: menu analysis, student participation

The program uses the School Food Institute, Chef Ann Foundation framework for assessment and planning. One key measure is simply looking at the amount of processed versus fresh food being served. As you can see, highly processed foods such as white bread, canned fruit and processed meats made up less than 30% of Johnson Creek School District's menu in the 2019-20 school year. 

"Today our menu offered corn dogs and homemade pulled pork," says Wright. "Everyone chose the from-scratch pulled pork. And we're going to continue to trend those processed foods like corn dogs downward in coming years." 

menu analysis chart

What does student participation look like? Compared to 2017/18 (before the program began), student participation has increased by 43% for lunch, and 127% for breakfast. While COVID has implications for this data, the overall upward trend is undeniable. 

meals service diagram

"The kids eventually figured out what we were serving them was good for them and delicious," Wright continues. "They were so used to typical frozen and processed food. Now they're excited about homemade shepherd's pie." 

To date, the foundation has invested more than $14 million in its five strategic, child-focused priorities:

  • strong families
  • kindergarten readiness
  • school success
  • social and emotional wellbeing
  • healthy eating/active living

To learn more about the Foundation and supported initiatives, visit www.watertownhealthfoundation.com or Facebook at Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation.  




At the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (GWCHF), we focus on solutions to issues impacting our community's children. Even when those issues—like child abuse and neglect—are incredibly challenging and difficult talk about.

The need was evident

In 2018, the data was impossible to look away from. In Dodge and Jefferson Counties, Child Protective Services (CPS) intervened in 542 child maltreatment cases, a 30% increase over the previous 3 years.

"We want to help families when they first need help, not just when a crisis is occurring," says Kathi Cauley, Director of Jefferson County Human Services. "To do this we needed to invest in creating positions that could take timely and preventive actions when people needed resources and connections to programs. The Community Response positions, which were funded by GWCHF allowed this work to start to happen."

To drive change, we needed to understand why and how could it be prevented? And then intervene in a meaningful way.

Even with stigma-laden issues like child abuse and neglect, research shows that these incidents don't just happen in a vacuum. There are causes and stressors… an environment that can make maltreatment more likely. Factors that increase the strain on fragile parents are not surprising: alcohol and substance use issues, domestic violence, single-parenting, poverty, unstable housing, social isolation, lack of parenting knowledge, and more.

Fortunately, there are also evidence-based factors that foster positive parenting and protect against abuse and neglect. These are known as "5 for Families" - the five strengths all families need to thrive.

5 for Families

  • Understanding Feelings (social and emotional competence)
  • Parenting as Children Grow (knowledge of parenting and child development)
  • Connecting with Others (social connections)
  • Building Inner Strength (parental resilience)
  • Knowing How to Find Help (concrete supports in times of need)

The Community Response Program reaches out to families, at the right time, with support that encompasses these proven risk and prevention factors.

Investment: Community Response Program

$568,750 from September 2018 to September 2021

In 2018, GWCHF took action by funding the Community Response Program in Jefferson and Dodge Counties. The program provides connections to services, case management and skill building for parents and caregivers. Well-trained social workers (family advocates) reach out to caregivers who had contact with Child Protective Services (CPS), but whose cases were "screened out" (meaning no further follow-up was deemed necessary). Eventually outreach also included CPS families with resolved or ongoing cases.

Results

Three years on, we are reporting on the results of this investment. An independent evaluation report covering both Dodge and Jefferson counties was prepared by The Institute for Child and Family Well-Being, part of the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at UW-Milwaukee.

PROGRAM REACH

COUNTY FAMILIES REFERRED FAMILIES SERVED % FAMILIES SERVED CHILDREN IMPACTED
Jefferson 426 164 39% 300+
Dodge 483 223 46% 450+



It's important to note that without the Community Response Program, these "screened out" cases (representing more than 750 children) would not have received further contact or assistance.

Fewer than half of the contacts resulted in services provided. The largest reason is that struggling families can be nearly impossible to reach (no fixed address or phone number). A smaller percentage of families, once contacted, declined service.

Program evaluation took the pandemic into consideration. The biggest impact was that more visits were virtual, which was less ideal than in-person.

As caregivers worked with their family advocate, they identified goals. Over three years, the most common goals identified by families included: financial support, child mental health, housing, parenting, adult mental health, and food. A reflection tool completed by program staff reinforced many of these same stressors, with affordable housing, access to quality childcare, and mental health care for all ages being cited as unmet needs within the community.

"We are thrilled to offer these earlier intervention and prevention services," says Kathi Cauley. "We have received positive feedback from participants. We hope to expand the program even further."

What's next?

From the beginning, the grant was intended to jump start the program with a goal of achieving program sustainability after three years. Ultimately, both counties are working to continue and/or expand the Community Response Program, partnering with other county departments, schools, and others.

We at GWCHF, along with our Every Child Thrives partners, are proud of the impact Dodge and Jefferson counties have had in supporting families across the region. We are grateful for the counties' willingness to make innovative solutions a reality in our community.

To date, the foundation has invested more than $14 million in its five strategic, child-focused priorities:

  • strong families
  • kindergarten readiness
  • school success
  • social emotional wellbeing
  • healthy eating/active living

To learn more about the Foundation and supported initiatives, visit www.watertownhealthfoundation.com or Facebook at Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation.




The grants were awarded to more than 40 organizations working to improve the health of children and families in Dodge and Jefferson Counties.

"During a time of great uncertainty, the Foundation was humbled to be able to quickly deploy resources to the agencies providing concrete supports to our area's most vulnerable population," said Tina Crave, GWCHF President & CEO. "Early in the Pandemic, food, shelter and personal essentials rose to the top of the most urgent needs," she said.

Taking a proactive approach as the pandemic wore on, the Foundation expanded its support to include building the capacity of agencies.

"We started hearing that cash flow issues caused by the pandemic were hindering organizations' ability to keep up with the demand for services, or even provide the same level of service as they had pre-pandemic," said Margaret Hanrahan, GWCHF Board member and Grants Committee Chair. "Broadening the scope of these grants helped support agencies serving the critical needs of the community to survive the pandemic and remain viable over the long term," she added.

Larger, multi-year investments were made to school-based mental health and drug and alcohol abuse counseling, needs compounded by the pandemic. Jefferson County Human Services and Dodge County Health and Human Services were awarded grants to provide school based mental health counseling to students and their families. In addition, Dodge County received funding to provide substance use disorder treatment to women whose children were placed in the child welfare system.

"Stresses caused by the Pandemic such as job loss and social isolation resulted in an increased demand for mental health and addiction services," said Hanrahan. "We are happy to support these agencies working to improve the emotional health of children and the functioning of the family unit."

Pandemic Response Grants Awarded

The following Pandemic Response Grants were awarded to agencies by category:

Education Lake Mills Area School District $7,187
Education Watertown Unified School District $ 40,221
Food Adoration Abode $ 1,200
Food Dodge County Food Pantry $ 5,000
Food Marshall Waterloo Food Pantry $ 2,000
Food Sacred Heart Church Food Pantry - Horicon $ 1,200
Food Community Action Coalition $ 150,000
Food School Districts $ 30,000
Food Watertown Unified School District Gosling Nest $ 5,350
Housing Crossroads House $10,000
Housing Jefferson County Community Action Coalition $10,000
Housing Jefferson County Salvation Army $10,000
Housing PAVE $6,230
Medical Church Health Services $20,000
Mental Health Dodge County Human Services $200,000
Mental Health Jefferson County Human Services $210,000
Mental Health Lake Mills School District $12,300
Mental Health and Programmatic Ixonia Elementary School $14,971
Mental Health and Programmatic Wisconsin Lutheran Child & Family Services $2,576
Operations Community Care and Preschool $1,000
Operations Future All Stars Academy $1,000
Operations Gingerbread Preschool $4,862
Operations Green Valley Enterprises $10,000
Operations Haus of Peace $22,000
Operations Kiddie Kampus $1,000
Operations Lake Mills EMS $1,000
Operations Lake Mills Yoga Co-op $3,000
Operations Mary Linsmeier $4,413
Operations Rock Lake Activity Center $25,000
Operations Watertown Park and Rec $13,000
Operations Watertown Players $8,500
Operations Willow Christian Child Care Center $1,000
Programmatic Green Valley Enterprises $2,000
Programmatic Jefferson County Human Services $2,783
Programmatic A Moment of Magic $1,000
Programmatic Rock Lake Activity Center $3,580
Programmatic Shared Mission Group $3,000
Programmatic St. Vincent $3,000
Programmatic Watertown Area YMCA $1,756
Programmatic Watertown Dept of Public Health $10,000
Programmatic Watertown Unified School District/Building Bridges $250
Substance Abuse Treatment Dodge County Human Services $200,000


Open Grant Opportunities

The GWCHF is currently accepting proposals for four open grant cycles.

  • Changemaker Grants, open through December 2022, provide support for agencies working to improve health equity for those they serve, while focusing on the social determinants of health.
  • Ongoing grants include:
    • Capacity Building Grants, for agencies looking to advance their missions by developing leadership skills or strengthening organizational efforts
    • Health Equity Spark Grants, meant to spark community learning, reflection and dialogue on the topics of equity, diversity and inclusion
    • Community Collaboration Grants, which provide support for partnerships that enhance community spaces where individuals can be active together.

The GWCHF invests in non-profit or governmental agencies focused on improving health equity. Prospective applicants can view the requests for proposals, complete with application details, on the Grants page of the Foundation's website at watertownhealthfoundation.com.

Submitted proposals must directly support the communities served by the school districts of Dodgeland, Hustisford, Ixonia, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Waterloo and Watertown.

To date, the Foundation has invested nearly $13 million in its five strategic, child-focused priorities:

  • strong families
  • kindergarten readiness
  • school success
  • social emotional wellbeing
  • healthy eating/active living
  • To learn more about the foundation and supported initiatives, watertownhealthfoundation.com or Facebook at Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation.




The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (GWCHF) has announced two grant opportunities for organizations working improve the health of children and families. The opportunities will support capacity building and work that improves the social determinants of health.

2022 Changemaker Grants

"The single greatest priority of the GWCHF is to create health equity," said Tina Crave, GWCHF President & CEO. "Health equity means every person has the opportunity to enjoy optimal health and wellbeing."

2022 Changemaker grants will be awarded to organizations working to improve health equity for those they serve, while focusing on the social determinants of health.

"Through the 2022 Changemaker Grants, we are looking to provide substantial funding for programs that will have a large impact in our community," said Margaret Hanrahan, GWCHF Board member and Grants Committee Chair. "We'll also consider smaller projects that have the potential to lead to larger-scale initiatives."

Requests for the 2022 Changemaker Grants will be accepted through December 31, 2022, or until budget of $500,000 is met.

Capacity Building Grants

Capacity Building Grants provide funding for organizations looking to advance their missions by developing leadership skills through training and technical assistance. In addition, support will be provided for organizational efforts such as research and development, quality improvement and strategic planning.

"During this time when resources are stretched especially thin, we are pleased to support organizations in building their strength and effectiveness," said Margaret Hanrahan,. "Our Capacity Building Grants offer an opportunity for organizations to grow their impact in order to improve outcomes for those they serve."

Capacity Building grants are open on an ongoing basis. Organizations seeking Capacity Building Grants should contact Andi Merfeld, Community Engagement and Grants Coordinator, at 920-390-4682 to discuss their project. An invitation to formally apply will be extended to qualifying projects.

To Learn More

Prospective applicants can view the requests for proposals, complete with application details, on the Grants page of the Foundation's website at watertownhealthfoundation.com.

Submitted proposals must directly support the communities served by the school districts of Dodgeland, Hustisford, Ixonia, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Waterloo and Watertown.

In addition to its Capacity Building and Changemaker Grants, GWCHF has two additional open grant cycles. Health Equity Spark Grants are designed to spark community learning, reflection and dialogue on the topics of equity, diversity and inclusion and Community Collaboration Grants, which provide support up to $20,000 for partnerships that enhance community spaces where individuals can be active together. Both grants are open on an ongoing basis.

To date, the foundation has invested nearly $13 million in its five strategic, child-focused priorities:

  • strong families
  • kindergarten readiness
  • school success
  • social emotional wellbeing
  • healthy eating/active living

To learn more about the foundation and supported initiatives, visit watertownhealthfoundation.com or Facebook at Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation.




The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (GWCHF) is pleased to announce the TalkReadPlay Center, located within the Watertown Public Library, is open to the community.

The TalkReadPlay Center was designed to promote quality early learning opportunities while supporting parents and caregivers in helping their children grow and learn. It inspires and supports learning interactions, facilitates access to resources, champions caregivers as their child's first teacher, and works beyond its walls to build the community supports families need to thrive.

The Center is housing both the Watertown Public Library Children's Department and Watertown Family Connections, formerly the Watertown Family Center. Both organizations offer programming for children ages 0-5 within the space, including playgroups, storytimes, parenting education and more. Families can find information on programs dates and times at talkreadplaywi.com

The Center also features interactive spaces where parents and children can learn through play.

"Some of our interactive play spaces include features that require unique construction," said Peg Checkai, Watertown Public Library Director. "The construction of these spaces has been delayed, likely until this spring. When families visit the TalkReadPlay Center this winter, we want them to know that many more exciting features will be added in the coming months. The space will only get better!"

In the meantime, Checkai said there is a variety of play equipment and activities that many families are already enjoying.

A New Home for Watertown Family Connections

Watertown Family Connections (WFC), formerly the Watertown Family Center, has relocated its space to the TalkReadPlay Center. WFC will continue offering playgroups and educational programs for parents and caregivers. Expanding on its mission, WFC will also connect families with young children to resources that increase knowledge of parenting and child development, social and emotional competence of children, parental resilience, social connections, and concrete supports in times of need.

"We are very excited to be collaborating with Watertown Family Connections to serve families with young children," said Checkai. "Because of this collaboration, when families visit the TalkReadPlay Center at the library, they will not only find books and opportunities to create and play together, but they will also have opportunities to develop as a family and be connected to any resources and services they may need to thrive."

Watertown Family Connections Executive Director Stephanie Curtis is also looking forward to the new shared space. "Being located in the TalkReadPlay Center gives us more opportunities to connect with and serve our community, to continue our long tradition of supporting families in the Watertown area."

TalkReadPlay Imagination Library – Free Books for Children

In addition to funding the TalkReadPlay Center, to commemorate its opening and to launch the next phase of the TalkReadPlay community movement, GWCHF is sponsoring the TalkReadPlay Imagination Library in partnership with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. Children ages birth through 5 years old can receive one book per month mailed to them free of charge.

"TalkReadPlay is our community's promise that every child has a great start in life," said GWCHF President & CEO Tina Crave. "We know when parents read to their young children each day, they have a better chance at being developmentally ready for school. When books are easy to access, families are more likely to read together."

Children eligible to receive Imagination Library books are those who reside in school district areas that GWCHF serves – including Dodgeland, Hustisford, Ixonia, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Waterloo and Watertown. Families may register for the program at https://talkreadplaywi.com/imagination-library/

talkreadplay center kids at the talkreadplay center


The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (GWCHF) is pleased to announce investments totaling $815,000 - a combination of newly awarded grants and continued payments to agencies supporting children and families in Dodge and Jefferson counties. The following grants have been made since October 2020.

 

Social Emotional Wellbeing - $650,000

Social emotional wellbeing provides a foundation for academic achievement, success in the workforce and overall health. Recent investments in systems that support the social emotional wellbeing of our community include:

  • A multi-year grant to  Jefferson County Human Services to support student mental health through the addition of school-based counseling services and evidence-based social emotional learning curriculum
  • A multi-year grant to  Dodge County Human Services to support expansion of its Open Door Counseling services to additional Dodge County school districts
  • A multi-year grant to  Dodge County Human Services to support the addition of a Substance Use Disorder Treatment Professional on the Child Protective Services team
  • Continued financial support for the  Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health to support adoption of the Pyramid Model at seven early care and education sites in Dodge and Jefferson County. The Pyramid Model is an evidenced-based social and emotional learning framework that promotes young children's healthy development. Learn more here.
  • Continued financial support for the  Watertown Unified and Waterloo School Districts in developing foundational plans for Social Emotional Learning
 

Pandemic Response - $71,000

GWCHF's Pandemic Response Grants support agency needs, service adaptations and revenue losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Recent pandemic response grants have been awarded to:

  • Gingerbread Preschool & Child Care Center - to purchase electronic equipment to allow for better communication with parents, and to cover fundraising losses due to the pandemic
  • Green Valley Enterprises - to support virtual delivery of services and recover revenue lost due to the pandemic
  • Watertown Area YMCA - to support the Key Seekers program, which provides child care during virtual school
  • Watertown Park & Recreation Department - to fund equipment for socially-distanced lifeguard training
  • Watertown Unified School District - for its Breakfast Club which helps students struggling in core classes due to Covid, and to significantly expand the district's BellXcel summer learning program to support more students in recouping pandemic learning loss

Pandemic Response Grants are available through December 31. Learn more here.

Lindsey
Pictured: A Pandemic Response Grant to Green Valley Enterprises supported their SNAP program's new virtual learning format. Over video conferencing, Lindsey connects with her Client Care Specialist, Kristen, to work on activities that promote her fine motor skills, memory, verbal skills, and more.
 



Early Care & Education - $60,000

High-quality early care and education is critical for working parents and those seeking employment, and for children to learn skills needed for school success. In Dodge and Jefferson counties, there are significantly more children under the age of 5 - about 5,000 - than there are licensed child care spots available. To help solve this problem, the Foundation is supporting the Watertown Area YMCA in leading multiple agencies through a one-year planning process to expand access to high-quality early care and education in our community.

 

Positive Parenting Program - $21,000

When parents and caregivers have the knowledge and skills to support their children as they grow, they are more likely to thrive! Positive Parenting Program grants are supporting the Hustisford, Lake Mills Area and Watertown Unified School Districts as they continue to implement the Positive Parenting Program.

These districts are three of 11 providers who are being supported by GWCHF in offering this program at no cost to parents and caregivers in Dodge and Jefferson counties. Seminars, discussion groups, classes and one-on-one support offerings are helping families to spend more time learning and growing together, and less time dealing with stress and misbehaviors.

Register today for virtual Positive Parenting programs scheduled in May & June. Please see the article below for dates and registration links.

 

Community Collaboration - $10,000

Community Collaboration Grants support efforts that build a sense of connectedness between people or create/enhance community spaces where individuals can be active together. Through this program, the Village of Clyman received funds to complete upgrades at their community park.

Community Collaboration Grants are available on an ongoing basis. Learn more here. 

 

Health Equity Spark - $3,000

Health Equity Spark Grants are designed to spark community dialogue on the topics of equity, diversity and inclusion. They were created to support learning journeys for agencies and grassroot groups such as youth groups, civic and faith organizations on topics such as racism, bias and discrimination. Through this grant program, the Foundation is pleased to support the Dodge County Society of Human Resource Management in offering a conference on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. More information and registration will be available in the coming weeks at the following site: DodgeCounty.SHRM.org.

Health Equity Spark Grants will be available through December 31. Learn more here. 




The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (GWCHF) has announced the availability of Health Equity Spark Grants designed to spark community dialogue on the topics of equity, diversity and inclusion. The grants are open through the end of the year and are available to any local organization interested in diving deeper into topics such as racism, bias and discrimination.

"Since inception, our Foundation has focused its resources on health equity, which is defined as everyone having a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible," said Tina Crave, GWCHF President and CEO. "These grants will provide resources to support learning and reflection about equity. We encourage organizations of all sizes to take advantage of this opportunity to experience a shared learning journey and time for personal growth."

GWCHF has recently begun a journey to deepen its understanding of the barriers to equity, diversity and inclusion and their consequences, such as lack of access to good health, decent paying jobs, safe housing and healthcare.

"We are eager to learn how our community can be strengthened by holding the values of equity, diversity and inclusion close, and invite community groups both large and small to learn along with us," said Margaret Hanrahan, GWCHF Board member and Grants Committee Chair.

Health Equity Spark Grants were created to support agencies and grassroot groups such as youth groups, civic and faith organizations within Dodge and Jefferson counties. The grants will support journeys of learning and discovery across the community.

Prospective applicants can view the request for proposals, complete with application details, on the Grants page of the Foundation's website at www.watertownhealthfoundation.com. GWCHF will accept Health Equity Spark Grant applications on a rolling basis through December 31, 2021.

Submitted proposals must directly support the communities served by the school districts of Dodgeland, Hustisford, Ixonia, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Waterloo and Watertown.

In addition to its Health Equity Spark Grants, GWCHF has two additional open grant opportunities. Pandemic Response Grants are open through December 31, and are designed to ensure residents' basic needs are met during the pandemic and beyond. Community Collaboration Grants, which are open on an ongoing basis, provide support up to $10,000 for partnerships that enhance community spaces where individuals can be active together.

To date, the foundation has invested $10 million in its five strategic, child-focused priorities:

  • strong families
  • kindergarten readiness
  • school success
  • social emotional wellbeing
  • healthy eating/active living

To learn more about the foundation and supported initiatives, visit www.watertownhealthfoundation.com or Facebook at Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation.




The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (GWCHF) has announced a series of Pandemic Response Grants designed to ensure residents' basic needs are met during the pandemic and beyond. The grant opportunities will be available through the end of the year and will support nonprofit and governmental entities with missions that promote health and wellbeing.

"Many of our local nonprofits, health and social service agencies are experiencing a significantly increased demand for services," said Tina Crave, GWCHF President and CEO. "Our Covid Emergency Response Grants will support these agencies in ramping up capacity to meet community needs."

"At the same time, some nonprofit organizations are experiencing cash flow challenges due to the pandemic," added Crave. "Nonprofit Stabilization Grants will provide emergency operational cash flow to help stabilize nonprofit organizations whose viability has been threatened due to the pandemic. Perhaps more importantly, grants will provide resources for agencies to receive professional technical assistance to evolve strategy, operations or fundraising approaches to thrive in the post-pandemic environment."

The Foundation is offering three Pandemic Response Grant opportunities:

Technical Assistance Grants

Technical Assistance Grants will support nonprofit and governmental agencies in engaging consulting expertise to evolve agency strategy, operations and fundraising to successfully fulfill the agency's mission post pandemic. "The past year has forced many agencies to consider making significant changes to mitigate the pandemic's impact," said Margaret Hanrahan, GWCHF Board Member and Grants Committee Chair. "These grants will provide technical assistance to support nonprofit Boards in rethinking sustainability plans and making pivots to serve the community in a new environment."

Covid Emergency Response Grants

Covid Emergency Response Grants support safety net agencies actively meeting basic community needs (including food, shelter, safety, education, health) who are experiencing increased demand or expenses due to the pandemic.

"We provided over $100,000 in Emergency Response Grants to fill critical service gaps in 2020," said Hanrahan. "We are pleased to make additional resources available for local agencies supporting the most basic needs of our community."

Nonprofit Stabilization Grants

Nonprofit Stabilization Grants provide cash flow needed to stabilize nonprofit organizations whose viability is threatened due to the pandemic. Nonprofit Stabilization Grants can be utilized to support fundraising gaps due to local event cancelations in 2020. Stabilization grants may also support agencies experiencing a significant loss in program and operational revenue due to the pandemic. "Our goal is to ensure nonprofits who meet critical community needs survive the pandemic and rebuild their agencies to serve our communities over the long term," said Hanrahan.

To Learn More

Prospective applicants can view the request for proposals, complete with application details, on the Grants page of the Foundation's website at www.watertownhealthfoundation.com. Organizations may apply for more than one grant opportunity.

Accepted proposals must directly support the communities served by the school districts of Dodgeland, Hustisford, Ixonia, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Waterloo and Watertown.

In addition to its Pandemic Response Grant opportunities, GWCHF is accepting applications for Community Collaboration Grants on an ongoing basis. These grants are designed to support collaboration and build community connectedness. Community Collaboration Grants provide support up to $10,000 for partnerships that build a sense of belonging between community members or enhance community spaces where individuals can be active together.

To date, the foundation has invested nearly $10 million in its five strategic, child-focused priorities:

  • strong families
  • kindergarten readiness
  • school success
  • social emotional wellbeing
  • healthy eating/active living

To learn more about the foundation and supported initiatives, visit www.watertownhealthfoundation.com or Facebook at Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation.




Jefferson, WI – The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (GWCHF) focuses on health equity with a vision of thriving communities where everyone enjoys good health and wellbeing. The Foundation recently joined the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce to grow partnerships in the Jefferson community.

"We have strong partnerships in Jefferson with the school district, county and non-profit organizations. We've joined the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce to help build relationships with other business and civic leaders," Tina Crave, GWCHF President and CEO said. "Growing our Jefferson connections will have a positive impact on our work and the community as a whole." The Foundation allocates resources to move the needle on key health indicators for children and families. Its strategic priorities include strong families, kindergarten readiness, school success, social emotional wellness and healthy eating active living. "The Foundation believes in collaborating and supporting community assets," said Karla Mullen, GWCHF Board Chair and Grants Committee member. "We're looking forward to forming new partnerships with the Jefferson community to help improve health outcomes." Foundation investments address root cause barriers to child and family health through collective impact, community capacity building, systems change and grantmaking. Since its inception in 2015, the Foundation has invested nearly 1.4 million dollars in the community of Jefferson and 10 million dollars in total. The GWCHF serves the residents of Dodge and Jefferson Counties with priority given to projects impacting the communities served by the following school districts: Dodgeland, Hustisford, Ixonia, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Waterloo and Watertown. For more information on the Foundation and its initiatives, visit watertownhealthfoundation.com.