Fort Atkinson Community Foundation
May 2021 Quarterly Update
Improving the quality of life in Fort Atkinson by inspiring and supporting enduring philanthropy

A Better Fort Atkinson

$2.75 Million Challenge Grant  Awarded to BASE

The Fort Atkinson Community Foundation (FACF) is excited to announce it has issued a $2.75 million challenge grant to the Badgerland After School Enrichment (BASE) program to help purchase and renovate the old W.D. Hoard printing press building on Edward Street in order to transform it into a permanent home for the BASE program, provide a community recreation space, and house a new Teen Center for Fort Atkinson youth.

Not only would this 37,000-square-foot facility be a transformative asset for the BASE program, combined with the City of Fort Atkinson's acquisition of the neighboring Loeb Lorman parcels, the planned future extension of the bike path along the abandoned railroad corridor, and the popular new Skate Park in nearby Ralph Park, it could be a key component in an exciting revitalization and transformation of a blighted area of our city.

The 'challenge' portion of the grant means that in order to receive FACF's $2.75 million grant, BASE must first raise $2 million toward the project.  The overall price tag of the project is just over $8 million, which includes eventually raising $3 million for an endowed fund to help cover the cost of operating the facility.

BASE Executive Director Alicia Norris and the BASE Board of Directors are currently organizing their fundraising materials so stay tuned for more exciting information arriving over the next few weeks, including news about how we can all help make this happen.
Should this grant be awarded, it would be the largest in FACF's history, surpassing the $1.9 million matching grant awarded to the Fort Atkinson Historical Society for the 2007 Hoard Museum Legacy Project and the $1.5 million matching grant awarded to the City of Fort Atkinson for the Dwight Foster Public Library's Foster Growth Project in 2010.

Recently Awarded Grants

April 2021 FACF Board Meeting:
$7,800 to the Fort Atkinson Chamber
to help replace the Chamber sign's faulty electronic message board.  One of the first signs of its kind in Fort, it broadcasts all sorts of great community information from its prime location on a busy downtown corner.
This grant will come from our Kerschensteiner Family Fund, a donor-advised fund established years ago by Mark Kerschensteiner, and now advised by his daughter and grandson who recommended the grant.  Mark specifically supported city signage so we're happy to put the Kerschensteiner Family Fund to work on this one!  

$12,500 to Fort Parks and Recreation
to help install 22 security cameras in six Fort Atkinson parks in an effort to try and reduce grafitti and vandalism in our beautiful city parks.  Our Parks & Rec staff worked with the Fort Police Department to identify the best placements for the camera in order to capture the most vandalized areas.

The goal is to keep our parks and trail systems clean, safe, and visually appealing for our residents and for all our visitors.  Our thanks to Parks & Rec Director Brooke Franseen and her staff for championing this project! 
$104,000 in Covid-19 Relief Fund grants to 12 local nonprofit organizations
to help them regain their footing after a trying year.  These twelve human service organizations have been providing critical services to our community in a very stressful pandemic environment.  Some have been challenged by increased demand and expenses while others struggled with the inability to fundraise as usual. 
“The health of our nonprofit community, especially the human services sector, is very important to us,” noted Foundation Chairman Michael Bender.  “For this final round of grants, we really wanted to focus on those organizations that were helping people with critical services.  We are grateful to these nonprofits for their good work, and we are particularly grateful to everyone who donated to the Covid-19 Relief Fund, making these grants possible.”
The recipients of these latest grants from the Foundation’s Covid-19 Relief Fund are St. Vincent de Paul-Fort Atkinson, Badgerland After School Enrichment (BASE) Club, Bethel House, Dave Gallup Foundation, Jefferson Co. Literacy Council, Rock River Community Clinic, New Beginnings APFV, Catholic Charities, Jefferson Co. Human Services, Parents Cooperative Preschool, Your Friends in Action, and Fort HealthCare.
Together with the first round of Covid-19 Relief Fund grants distributed by the Foundation in July of 2020, this second and final round brings the total amount of Covid-19 relief funding distributed by the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation to $225,000, of which $88,000 came from donors who gave to the Covid-19 Relief Fund.  As always, donors make everything we do possible.

$750 to the School District of Fort Atkinson
to provide funds for the 2021 Ed Winiarski Turn-Around Award, which is awarded to a graduating senior at Fort Atkinson High School who has managed to turn their life in a more positive direction after a difficult start to their high school career.  

Ed Winiarski started working at Fort Atkinson High School in 1958 and his career included positions as physical education teacher, coach, athletic director and many years as assistant principal until his retirement in 1994.  His colleagues often noted the many students whose life Ed helped to 'turn-around.'  So, upon his much-too-early death in 1998, his friends and family established the Ed Winiarski Turn-Around Award and the Foundation provides an annual grant to fund it.

This year's recipient will be announced at the high school's Senior Scholarship Ceremony coming up on May 19th. 

Scholarship News

2021 Scholarship Season Update
This year, 130 students submitted an application to be considered for our 39 competitive scholarship programs.  That number is down a bit from recent years and we hope that next year, with the pandemic in our rearview mirror, we'll see that number climb higher.  We can't yet report the total number of scholarship recipients for the 2021-22 school year, as three review committees are still to meet.  But we can report that this year we will be awarding $361,000 in scholarships to Fort Atkinson students. 

We owe this remarkable scholarship program to all the kind and generous donors who have opened scholarship funds with us over the years.  These donors knew the importance of education and they wanted to make sure our young people - our greatest asset - could take advantage of all the educational opportunities they earned. 

Scholarships awarded to graduating high school seniors will be announced at Fort Atkinson High School's Senior Awards Program this Wednesday, May 19th at 6:30 p.m.  This will be an in-person ceremony in the high school's auditorium but it will be limited to seniors and presenters with a live stream feed for family and friends to watch from home.   The link below will give you the livestream AT THE TIME OF THE CEREMONY
To Livestream the May 19th Senior Scholarship Ceremony
The full list of all our scholarship awards will be posted to our website sometime this summer after all recipients have been notified of their awards.
AAUW Grants for Gals
We had seven applicants for the spring 2021 grant cycle of our AAUW Grants for Gals program - the best showing yet for this new program which offers non-traditional scholarship support to local girls and women to help them meet an educational, cultural, leadership, or professional advancement need. Grants are available for girls and women aged ten and older who live, work or attend school within the School District of Fort Atkinson.

Acting upon a recommendation from a local AAUW committee, the Foundation approved grants totaling $800 awarded to four recipients.  Earning a $300 award was Fort Atkinson resident, pilot and small business owner Krystal Felderman who plans to enroll in a course to become a Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) with an eye toward working in the area of aviation safety management (did you know that only 8% of pilots are women and less than 1% of those females hold a management level position).  

Also earning AAUW Grants for Gals grants were two middle school students and one high school student who were seeking assistance in attending various camps to improve their educational and leadership talents.

Our thanks to AAUW and to everyone who has contributed to this fund.  We hope to continue to grow this unique granting program so we can beef up the awards a bit.

Updates on Foundation-Supported Projects

Ernie Pope Art Show
Starting on Tuesday, May 18th, make sure to catch all of the beautiful artwork adorning some Main Street business windows for the annual Ernie Pope Art Show! Artwork will remain on display until June 1, when the closing reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Barrie Park.
Thank you to all of the art teachers, school staff, and artists who took the initiative and put in the work to take this fun event in such an innovative direction so that it could still be held.

The Foundation is proud to be a part of this event by funding the awards with a grant from our Ernie Pope Memorial Art Fund.
Luther Sensory Garden
Katie Fortney, occupational therapist at Luther Elementary School, recently updated us on the Sensory Garden project, which the Foundation helped fund with grant money from our Mary Hoard Fund in 2019. Katie said, “The students and staff have enjoyed watching their fall-planted bulbs spring through the ground. We will be starting seedlings in the coming weeks for our vegetable and herb gardens. And additional plans are forming to add some artwork to continue to brighten up this beautiful space! We are so grateful for the support from the Fort Community Foundation!”

Thank you to all the Luther staff who initiated the plans for this sanctuary and continue to put work into this beautiful space. What a gift to your students and colleagues.
Community Wellness Walking Path
It was our pleasure to work with Fort HealthCare to open an indoor Community Wellness Walking Path at Jansen's Banquet Hall during February and March to provide a warm, safe place for people to walk.

Our thanks to Nicole Leibman of Fort HealthCare for spearheading the project, Connie Jansen for opening up her facility to us, Bob Cheek for helping wrangle volunteers, and all the friendly volunteers who staffed the site for their time.  Thanks to them, community members were able to
get out and move, in a safe environment, during a time that was isolating for so many.

Fund Focus

Donna Fox gift opens new Parks & Rec Fund

Prompted by a generous gift from Fort Atkinson resident and long-time tennis player Donna Fox (pictured above), the Foundation recently opened a new, non-endowed designated fund to benefit the Fort Atkinson Parks & Rec Department.  Donna's gift will allow the Parks & Rec. Department to sealcoat and make various improvements to all our tennis courts at Rock River Park - instead of doing them piecemeal over several years. 

Donna explained, “I feel fortunate for all of the years I have lived in the city Fort Atkinson, and would like to give back to the community that has given me so much. Having spent many hours on the local tennis courts, I want to assure they are maintained in good condition so the kids of Fort Atkinson have an opportunity to experience and love the game as much as I do.”

We love it when we can help people target their philanthropy toward their passions.  Parks & Rec Director, Brooke Franseen, recently spoke with us about the generous gift stating, "We can’t thank Donna enough for supporting the Parks & Rec Department, tennis players, pickleball players, and the High School tennis teams with a very generous donation to maintain the tennis courts this year. Donna was an avid tennis player and we are fortunate that she chose to help maintain a heavily-used City park through a passion of hers."

If the weather cooperates, Brooke hopes to have all the work completed by mid-June, just in time for the Parks & Rec's popular summer tennis program for kids.   Thank you, Donna, for your thoughtful gift. 

Classroom Teacher Wish Grants available this fall
Our 2021 Classroom Teacher Wish grant cycle will open August 1st.  This year we will be distributing up to $5,000 in awards to local public school teachers to help improve their classroom environment.

Fund Spotlight

Just what is a Field of Interest Fund? 
Our community foundation is comprised of 82 different funds all doing good work on behalf of our community.  Seven of these are Field of Interest (FOI) Funds - the topic of today's spotlight!
When a donor establishes a Field of Interest Fund at the Foundation, they identify the areas of interest they would like to support - such as beautification, the arts or recreation - and they leave it to our Board of Directors to evaluate grant applications and distribute grants to qualifying organizations whose projects meet the parameters specified by the fund.
Our largest field of interest fund, our Mary Hoard Fund, has been a workhorse for us, funding most of our large grants to expand and renovate both the Hoard Museum and the Dwight Foster Public Library, two institutions dear to Mrs. Hoard.  Our smallest field of interest fund, our Carol Liddle Fund, established by Ms. Liddle's estate to support the development of gardens, parks, and trails in our community, most recently funded a grant to the Hoard Museum for their Park History Panel project (see photo above).  No matter the size, all seven FOI funds pitch in to handle the granting load for our Community Grants program.

We are always happy to talk with anyone who might be interested in adding another field of interest fund to our portfolio.  You can always reach our Executive Director Sue Hartwick at (920) 563-3210 or via email at
Copyright © 2021 Fort Atkinson Community Foundation, All rights reserved.

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