Five Madison area agencies will receive $65,000 in grants from the county’s Tamara D. Grigsby Office of Equity and Inclusion to continue their work in racial inequality and food insecurity among minorities.
Hannah Weikel reports that local recipients of Dane County’s 2018 Partners in Equity grant have been recognized for tackling issues in either the criminal justice system or through access to healthy food in Madison’s schools and communities of color.
One recipient is the Dane County Time Bank’s Youth Court program. The program offers Madison and Verona high school students an alternative to the municipal court process in an effort to minimize the disproportionate rate that youth of color enter the criminal justice system. That program is getting a $10,000 grant from the county.
Lorrie Hurckes Dwyer, the program’s executive director, says that students are sent to a court of their peers instead of being subjected to an arrest and formal citation.
Hurckes Dwyer states, “These tickets and these arrests are primarily happening for kids of color, so we’re trying to do work to shift the lens in which we are looking at behavior and shift the lens in which we are looking at students in general.”
Hurckes Dwyer says the program is looking at ways to get more eligible kids referred to youth court in the future.
Per Dwyer, “Last school year only about 34% of kids that were eligible for youth court were referred to youth court. The other kids were formally cited through the traditional system. Through this grant we are aiming to ensure that the opportunity exists for all students who are at risk for receiving municipal citations.”
Madison’s Focused Interruption Coalition will also receive a county grant to continue supporting individuals as they re-enter the community after incarceration. The Coalition is getting $40,000 from the county.
This year the county has also awarded three community food-related grants to agencies that promote access to healthy food through community gardens, commercial food redistribution, and after school programs.
Wesley Sparkman, Dane County’s director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion, states that county supervisors recognized the need to increase access to healthy food in some pockets of the community. This year they awarded three $5,000 grants to the first-ever Partners in Equity Food recipients, Community GroundWorks, the Badger Prairie Needs Network, and DSS Community Center.
Sparkman reports: “This particular grant is really focusing on awareness for persons of color, learning more about healthy food options and choices and gardening, food preparation and so forth.”
Ginny Hughes, education director at Community GroundWorks, says the funding will go toward their Gardener-in-residence program at Leopold Elementary. The school requested an experienced gardener to help maintain a garden where students can go after school to learn how to grow and cook healthy food.
Per Hughes: “We’ve been working at Leopold for the last year, year and half, just with after school programming. So getting kids out to the garden after school, doing cooking with them, gardening, digging for worms, all that fun stuff. But this grant would allow us to get more into the school day. We are hoping to work with, potentially, third grade students, but that’s yet to be determined at this point.”
This is the second year Dane County’s office of equity and inclusion has awarded the Partner’s in Equity Grant.