Wanda Fullmore Summer Internship Program participants, 2016. Photo by Kent Sweitzer.

Fifty youth from Madison complete Wanda Fullmore Summer Internship Program

Karen Bednar Youth Programs 1 Comment

The third annual Wanda Fullmore Internship Program concluded last week, with fifty youth residing in the City of Madison completing eight week summer internships with various City of Madison departments. For the second consecutive year, Common Wealth was chosen as the nonprofit partner to administer the internship program, increasing from 30 interns in 2015 to 50 in 2016. The internship concluded with a certificate ceremony, presentations by interns, and cake at the Madison Central Library on Friday, August 19, 2016. The Wanda Fullmore Internship Program is designed to help underprivileged teens who are facing some sort of life barrier. It is an opportunity for them to learn about the possibility of working for city government. Wanda Fullmore was first hired …

MadFolk celebrates the 39th Annual Willy Street Fair by hosting the Folk Stage for its 9th year

Karen Bednar Events, Willy Street Fair Leave a Comment

  It is that time of year where we have the final festival of summer here in Madison, you put away all your indoor toys, tvs and computers and you come out to get, as the Chicago Tribune says, a “hip dose of Madison,” parades like none other, foods stands that can’t be beat, groovy stands to buy stuff ‘cuz you deserve to splurge on yourself and of course, cold beer and MUSIC! The folk stage will again kick off Willy Street Fair (WSF) this year. We welcome a newcomer to our stage, Kendra Swanson. Kendra is an independent roots music performer and songwriter. With strong, expressive vocals and energetic instrumentation on banjo, guitar, and fiddle, she applies a timeless …

Nestor Bacque, Common Wealth affordable housing tenant

Affordable housing tenant profile: Nestor Bacque

Karen Bednar Housing Leave a Comment

Originally from Salto, Uruguay near the Argentinian border, Nestor Bacque moved to Madison in 2005. He has made his home here ever since, working jobs in agriculture, at a grocery store, and now at a car dealership in Madison. He moved into a Common Wealth apartment in August 2012. “Common Wealth is a great organization,” he reflected on his front porch on Williamson Street. “I love my location. Every time when I tell people where I live, they’re like, ‘Wow, man, you have a nice spot.’ I cannot say anything more than nice things about Common Wealth because every time I need them, they were here for me.” When he first began his housing search, he knew he wanted to be …

Graduates of the Youth-Business Mentoring Program at Madison West High School, Fall 2015. Photo by Kent Sweitzer.

2015 Youth Programs Annual Review

Karen Bednar Youth Programs Leave a Comment

Each year, we like to highlight the impact of our Youth Programs from the previous year, including the Youth-Business Mentoring Program (YBMP) and Employment & Financial Literacy Workshops. We do this in August because we like to provide the most accurate information about how many students in the YBMP that we placed in jobs, and sometimes it takes several months to find a job that fits the participant’s interests and schedule. In 2015, Common Wealth provided 311 teens with high quality financial education, mentoring, employment and job retention skills. Common Wealth also placed 99 teens in jobs with local businesses. 2015 Youth Programs Employers We are grateful to the following area businesses that provided employment to participants in the Youth-Business Mentoring Program: …

Willy Street Fair raffle banner

2016 Willy Street Fair Raffle

Karen Bednar Events, Willy Street Fair 2 Comments

It is that time of the year again for the Willy Street Fair raffle! We have an awesome lineup of raffle prizes. Ticket sales will go to benefit programming at Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center and Common Wealth. Tickets are 1 for $2, 3 for $5, or 10 for $10. There are a few ways you can get tickets: Stop by the Common Wealth office, located at 1501 Williamson Street in Madison, between 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on weekdays. Call Mike at 608.256.3527 x34 to arrange a different time to meet at the Common Wealth office to buy raffle tickets. Stop by the booth at the 39th Annual Willy Street Fair, located near the 1000 block of Williamson Street the weekend …

Stephanie Bradley Wilson, Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Project coordinator at Common Wealth

Stephanie Bradley Wilson brings 31 years of community experience to Common Wealth

Karen Bednar Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Project Leave a Comment

Stephanie Bradley Wilson worked for Madison Police Department for 31 years – every role from an undercover officer to neighborhood officer to shift commander and lieutenant supervising detectives. In January, she retired and by the end of February, she was hired by Common Wealth to be the Project Manager for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Initiative. She doesn’t see this new role as being too different from some of the roles she enjoyed playing when she was a police officer, especially when she was involved with community engagement activities such as summer programs, seat belt initiatives, Christmas giveaways and Juneteenth. It also fits with her commitment to service in the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (of which she has been …

Keith Lepinski and Jessie Light, MACLT home owners

MACLT helps Common Wealth residents move from rental to home ownership

Karen Bednar Housing 2 Comments

“I can finally get out on my own side of the bed,” reflects Keith Lepinski. He and his wife, Jessie Light, closed on their first home in the Rolling Meadows neighborhood on Madison’s east side on June 1 with the help of Madison Area Community Land Trust (MACLT). MACLT is an affiliated organization with Common Wealth and the two share office space on Williamson Street. Previously, they spent four years in a Common Wealth affordable housing rental on Williamson Street. Keith and Jessie’s move from a 1-bedroom apartment to a 3-bedroom house allows them to do more than just build equity. They are both now able to pursue a multitude of hobbies. For Keith, that means building furniture, painting and …

CraftOptics logo

CraftOptics featured in Wisconsin State Journal

Karen Bednar Business Incubators, Media Coverage Leave a Comment

CraftOptics, one of Common Wealth’s business incubator tenants at Main Street Industries, was recently featured in the Wisconsin State Journal. Click here to learn more about their prescription glasses with telescopic lenses, especially made for artists and jewelers doing detailed work: http://host.madison.com/wsj/business/craftoptics-sees-big-potential-with-the-quilt-and-sewing-crowd/article_da6f2ab9-c1f0-5812-9ab3-402b3d51cb4d.html

Liz Machesney, PASS AmeriCorps member serving at Common Wealth

Reflection on the PASS AmeriCorps experience at Common Wealth by Liz Machesney

Karen Bednar Youth Programs 1 Comment

Serving as a PASS AmeriCorps Member with Common Wealth Youth Programs grants me the opportunity to work directly with teens from a very diverse set of backgrounds. In the mentoring aspect of my position, I develop relationships with high school youth who complete our three-week training and then become eligible to apply for and get placed into part time jobs. Specifically, I develop these relationships through checking in weekly or bi-weekly, preparing students for interviews during the application process, and keeping an eye out for my mentees when I’m at their high schools. As can be expected, serving in a youth-work capacity falls nowhere short of having many highs and lows. Some moments are great, like when students disclose to …

STEP employee Lavon Bryson working in the native prairie at Holy Wisdom Monastery with Greg Armstrong in April 2016.

STEP participants help restore native prairie at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Karen Bednar Southwest Partnership Leave a Comment

“This is the right thing to do at the monastery,” states Greg Armstrong, land management director at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton. Greg directs volunteer efforts to restore the monastery’s 130 acres of former farmland into native prairie. Some of his recent volunteers include participants in Common Wealth’s Southwest Transitional Employment Project (STEP), a program of the Southwest Partnership (SWP) with Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ and Dane County’s Joining Forces for Families. “So many of the ‘least’ in our community have experienced prejudice,” observes Greg. “Working together helps us build mutual respect for each other.” The idea with the STEP program is to efficiently connect motivated neighbors to a short-term paid employment experience, individualized support, and connections to SWP volunteers. …