Company : Willy Street Co-op
Program category : Health

Origins:

Since 1992, Willy Street Co-op has furnished $313,000 in grants from our Community Reinvestment Fund to nonprofits and cooperatives making a difference in the quality of food, land, and life in Madison and the Dane County region. Funding supports developmental and educational projects or events that are consistent with Willy Street Co-op’s mission and global ends policies, specifically programs related to food, nutrition, cooperatives, sustainable agriculture, health and well-being, and social change. Community Reinvestment Fund grants are made possible via our Board of Directors, whom allocate an annual portion of unclaimed, donated, and abandoned membership equity the Co-op retains and repurposes for educational and charitable endeavors. In 2014 alone, the Community Reinvestment Fund Grant Review Committee (comprised of seven Co-op members) awarded $30,000 total to 18 organizations from a pool of 37 proposals.

Contribution:

Grants are fully funded by Willy Street Co-op. Each year, a mailing is sent to any Co-op member who still has equity in the Co-op, but whose accounts have remained inactive for over a year. Once contacted, those members then have the option to renew their membership by either making an equity payment, withdrawing the equity, or by donating it to the Community Reinvestment Fund. After three years, unclaimed or abandoned equity also rolls over into the Fund. All membership equity retained for the Fund is kept in a trust with the Twin Pines Foundation. Oversight of disbursement is provided by our Board of Directors, upon recommendation from a committee of seven grant review committee participants. In the past several years, the Board has increased annual grant allocations from $25,000 to $30,000 due to program popularity and greater competition for funding.

Objectives:

The Community Reinvestment Fund primarily focuses on providing grants to local, nonprofit and cooperative groups with limited access to funding. Priority is given to organizations working on projects benefiting the Madison and Middleton metropolitan areas (where our two stores are located) that promote food, nutrition, cooperatives, sustainable agriculture, health and well-being, and social change. Members of minority and protected classes are strongly encouraged to apply for funding.

Impact:

The Community Reinvestment Fund primarily focuses on providing grants to local, nonprofit and cooperative groups with limited access to funding. Priority is given to organizations working on projects benefiting the Madison and Middleton metropolitan areas (where our two stores are located) that promote food, nutrition, cooperatives, sustainable agriculture, health and well-being, and social change. Members of minority and protected classes are strongly encouraged to apply for funding.

Quote:

Anya Firszt, our General Manager, says, “Seven principles guide all co-ops​; the seventh one directs us to have 'concern for community.' I am proud that our​ C​o-op is able to award grants to numerous local nonprofit organizations each year so that they are able to complete some truly amazing projects and make our community a better place to live."