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Bright Idea Results Last Year

Fiscal Year 2017

Bright Idea Fund Grants Made a Difference in fiscal year 2017 (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018)!

Last year our Bright Idea Fund impacted the quality of life and made a difference in Calumet, Outagamie, Shawano and Waupaca counties and the Neenah-Menasha area of Winnebago County.

Check out our Bright Idea Fund results from fiscal year 2018.

 All grants awarded from the Bright Idea Fund in fiscal year 2017-18 are listed below. To see grants addressing a particular focus area, select one of the images:


Fiscal year 2017

PURPOSE: To enhance appreciation of and participation in visual, musical, performing and literary arts, history and other cultural experiences.

Priority 1: Increasing access and inclusion — Create thoughtful ways to include people who ordinarily do not or cannot participate.

Priority 2: Educating children and youth — Develop opportunities for school-aged children and youth to understand the value of artistic or cultural experiences, especially those who ordinarily do not or cannot participate.

Spectrum Saturday – The Building for Kids
$5,000 to expand the Spectrum Saturday and the Autism Accessibility Initiative to provide meaningful play-based learning opportunities for over 100 families with children on the autism spectrum per month. Partners were Fox Valley Autism Society, SOAR Fox Cities, the Appleton Public Library and the YMCA.  Read more.
Priority: Increasing access and inclusion.

Innovation Lab – The Building for Kids
$35,000 (over three years) for programming and staffing of the Innovation Lab, an expansion of the Building For Kids facility to encourage young children’s interest in STEM through hands-on learning activities. Read more
Priority: Increasing access and inclusion and educating children and youth.

Diversity Discovery Day and Community Art Project – The Building for Kids
$4,500 for free admission on Feb. 11, 2018, at The Building for Kids where attendees participated in educational activities to increase awareness and understanding of diversity and help create a traveling community art project focusing on diversity. Read more
Priority: Increasing access and inclusion and educating children and youth.

Creative Kids at Art on the Town – Creative Downtown Appleton
$2,500 to provide take-home art creativity bags for “Creative Kids,” a free, outdoor participatory arts series during Appleton’s Art on the Town, engaging families and encouraging them to extend artistic exploration beyond the event. Read more
Priority: Increasing access and inclusion.

Brats, Beer & Beethoven – Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra Association
Sponsoring the Brats, Beer & Beethoven community concert at the Fox Cities Stadium, a family-friendly and free event. Read more
Investment: $7,500; Priority: Increasing access and inclusion and educating children and youth.

In Harmony – Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra Association
$30,000 over three years to expand the In Harmony program, which provides participatory musical performances for over 150 children and adults with special needs. Read more
Priority: Increasing access and inclusion.

Visual Score – Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra Association
$5,000 to create visual tools to help more than 5,ooo students and concert attendees of all backgrounds better understand and connect with musical pieces performed by the symphony. Read more
Priority: Increasing access and inclusion and educating children and youth.

Music & Memory Tablet Engagement Program – Homme Home
$2,500 to provide equipment and staff training to implement the Music & Memory Tablet Engagement program targeting residents with memory impairment and/or mood disorders to reduce agitation and engage in music, relaxation and reminiscence activities.
Priority: Increasing access and inclusion.

Music Education Collaboration – Kurt Stein’s School of Music
$4,149 for Youthgo participants to have access to music education through free weekly music lessons for four months with peer support from Kurt Stein School of music student interns culminating in a community performance. Read more
Priority: Increasing access and inclusion and educating children and youth.

Mile of Music Education Activities – Lawrence University
$7,500 for music education activities coordinated by Lawrence University’s Music Education Team during the Mile of Music festival August 2 – 5, 2018, in downtown Appleton. Read more
Priority: Educating Children and youth.

Discover Neenah – Neenah Historical Society
$3,500 to create three age-appropriate local history books, along with a teacher’s guide, for third-grade students in Neenah to enhance their understanding and appreciation of the history of their local community. Read more
Priority: Educating children and youth.

Basic Needs of Music – newVoices
$11,975  over three years to bring professional musicians and vocalists to underserved middle school youth to explore universal themes like identity, love and loss as they deconstruct classical music together. Part of the Masterworks collaboration with the Fox Valley Symphony. Read more
Priority: Increasing access and inclusion and Educating children and youth.

Bridging the Gap Years, 1969-2019 – Outagamie Historical Society
$10,000 to develop an interactive exhibit that explores growing divisions in society through a historical lens, while collaborating with community organizations on public events that help foster dialogue and bridge the gap. Read more
Priority: Increasing access and inclusion.

Strong Women performance

Harbor House STE(A)M Collaboration – Paper Discovery Center
$2,836 for free, monthly STE(A)M (science, technology, energy, arts, math) nights for families that use Harbor House Domestic Abuse Program’s services, so they can experience papermaking and science activities in a fun and informal learning environment.Priority: Increasing access and inclusion.

Strong Women – WISDOM/ESTHER
$2,500 for a free performance Jan. 27, 2018, of “Strong Women,” a play based on the poetry of incarcerated women followed by a panel discussion including local residents who were incarcerated to create awareness of this issue to over 200 performance attendees. Read more
Priority: Increasing access and inclusion.

Learn how to apply for a Bright Idea grant for an Arts & Culture proposal.

Fiscal Year 2017

PURPOSE: Reduce the number of people in our community who are living in poverty by using innovative or collaborative approaches to address root causes.

Priority 1: Self-sufficiency — Support affordable educational and training opportunities or programs that remove barriers to earning a family-sustaining income.

Priority 2:  Children and youth — Address barriers to future success, including risk-related behaviors, mental health challenges, bullying, abuse and neglect, and opportunity gaps for children and youth.

Priority 3: Community Education and Awareness — Educate the community about critical issues or potential solutions related to root causes of poverty.

REACH Programming – Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley
$1,175 to strengthen the mentor-child match relationship by engaging parents in positive community match activities.
Priority: Children and youth.

MegaBites – Boys and Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley
$15,000 to expand the MegaBites program offering technology-focused enrichment activities to encourage more low-income and/or marginalized students ages 6-15 to enroll in technology classes and pursue IT careers. The program is a collaboration between the Club, Appleton Area School District and Fox Valley Technical College. Read more
Priority:Children and youth.

Students enrolled in STAR

STAR (Students on Target to Achieve Results, formerly Scholars of Excellence) – Boys and Girls Club of Fox Valley
$250,000 to improve academic achievement and cut the gap in graduation rates and college attendance of African-American youth in half through tutoring, homework help, study skills workshops, encouragement for more family involvement, mentoring and advocacy. Read more
Priority: Children and youth.

“Rise Together” – Chilton Optimist Club
$2,500 for workshops and a presentations by educators from “Rise Together” for students, teachers, parents and the community on risk-related behaviors associated with substance abuse.
Priority: Community education and awareness.

Early childhood growth, development and education – Community Early Learning Center of the Fox Valley
$62,500 for the collaborative effort to encourage early childhood growth, development and education in the Fox Valley. Read more
Priority: Children and youth.

Almost Home Project – Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin
$44180 to expand the successful Almost Home program, a partnership of Habitat for Humanity and Goodwill NCW, which provides wrap-around case management services to low-income families
Priority: Self-Sufficiency.

Career Exploration and Financial Literacy Education Center – Junior Achievement of Wisconsin-Winnebago Region District
$50,000 for a capital campaign for a career and financial literacy training center for middle and high school students that will provide skills important to finding a family-sustaining career.
Priority: Self-Sufficiency.

LEAVEN’S new Community Resource Center

Community Resource Center – LEAVEN
A $1 million expansion of its Menasha building to accommodate collaborative services with other nonprofits in a Community Resource Center to more effectively provide resources to LEAVEN clients seeking to be self-sufficient. Read more 
Investment: $50,000; Priority: Self-Sufficiency.

Social Media Intervention Program – Reach Counseling Services
$15,000 to establish a social media intervention program to address the dangers associated with social media for K-12 students in Winnebago County by working with the Sheriff’s Dept., District Attorney, Child Protection Services, School Liaison Officers, and UW-Oshkosh.
Priority: Children and youth.

Teen Symposium 2018 – United Way Fox Cities
$2,500 for the keynote speaker for the day-long conference on resiliency, wellness and mental health and how to affect change within schools for more than 300 ninth-grade students from 19 Fox Valley schools. Read more
 Priority: Children and youth.

Learn how to apply for a Bright Idea grant for a Basic Needs proposal.

Fiscal Year 2017

PURPOSE: Build strong communities by supporting government, business, philanthropic and/or nonprofit sectors, along with residents, to improve the places in which they live, work and play.

Priority 1: Neighborhood Development Enrich local neighborhoods by building connections and bringing people together to address local issues, with particular attention to neighborhoods with significant opportunities for improvement.

Priority 2: Community Partnerships Support community-wide projects or planning efforts involving partnerships between people and organizations in the private, public and nonprofit sectors.

Priority 3: Community Education and Awareness — Educate the community about issues key to improving quality of life.

Two-Day Speaker Event – Finding Balance Together
$2,500 for a speaker for a collaborative Finding Balance program to prevent injuries from falls by partnering with the Winnebago County Health Department, ThedaCare and ADRC.
Priority: Community Partnerships.

Outreach & Residency – Fox Valley Voices of Men
$4,500 for Brenda Tracey, speaker and advocate, who tells her story of a 1998 rape at Oregon State University by a group including two football players. Read More
Priority:Community education and awareness.

Empowering Voices to Save Lives – NAMI Fox Valley
2,500 to increase awareness about mental illness and suicide prevention to equip the community with the skills and resources needed to safely support adolescents in crisis and to reduce the teen suicide rate in our area.
Priority:Community education and awareness.

KNOW More to Protect Children – Sexual Assault Crisis Center-Fox Cities
$20,000 tp teach the adult population of the Fox Cities how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse by providing a foundation for widespread social change. Read more
Priority: Community education and awareness.

Fox River Trail Connection – Village of Kimberly
$9,600 toward a collaboration with neighboring municipalities to complete a “Loop the Locks” Heart of the Valley regional trail network. This will also include redeveloping the old New Page paper mill site. Read more
Priority:Community Partnerships

Give-Back Bus

Give Back Bus – Volunteer Center of East Central Wisconsin, Inc.
$25,000 for engaging corporations and community members in fun, half-day volunteering adventures, traveling by bus. Read more
Priority:Community Partnerships.

CTE Awareness – (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) – Women’s Fund of the Fox Valley Region
$5,000 for raising awareness of barriers to self-sufficiency facing women. Read more
Priority:Community education and awareness.

Learn how to apply for a Bright Idea grant for a Community Development proposal.

Fiscal Year 2017

PURPOSE: Support creative, economically feasible solutions to environmental challenges that benefit broad segments of the population to improve quality of life for current and future generations.

Priority 1: Children and youth — Provide innovative opportunities to help children and youth fully understand and appreciate the importance of a healthy environment, particularly for children with less access to these opportunities.

Priority 2: Sustainable practices — Creatively address environmental issues affecting our communities, homes and places of business, while considering social and economic consequences.

Priority 3: Community Education & Awareness — Raise the level of public knowledge about issues of environmental sustainability by offering educational opportunities and experiences open to all members of our community.

Farm Link Pilot – Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin
Supplying food pantries with fresh produce by contracting with local farmers, while driving consumer demand through member training and consumer education. Read more
Investment: $70,000; Priority: Community education and awareness.

Need for Nature – Gordon Bubolz Nature Center
$25,000 to help launch the Need for Nature movement, including a nationally known speaker to kick off efforts to convince young people and their families of the physical and psychological benefits of experiencing time in nature. Read more
This grant also addresses the Basic Needs and Self-Sufficiency focus area.
Priority: Community education and awareness.   

 An additional grant of $15,200 was awarded to create new health and wellness programs as part of the Need for Nature initiative including a Vita Course, Nature Playscape, Renewable Energy Curriculum, Ecotherapy Program, and Tree Climbing Club.
Priority: Community education and awareness.

Pond with a Purpose – Heckrodt Wetland Reserve, Inc.
$5,000 (plus $5,000 form the Environmental Stewardship Fund) for an aquarium display of a native Wisconsin pond habitat to highlight local fish species and their life cycles by providing a hands-on, interactive display for visitors of all ages including scouts and school age youth.
Priority: Children and youth and Community education and awareness.

Sustain the Bay
$20,000 for field and equipment trials to learn effective ways farmers can reduce runoff of phosphorus and other agricultural nutrients into the Fox River and Green Bay to reduce algae blooms and meet more restrictive regulations on the phosphorus load produced by manufacturers, sewage treatment plants and agricultural sources. Read more
Sustainable practices.
Learn how to apply for a Bright Idea grant for an Environmental Sustainability proposal.

Fiscal Year 2017

PURPOSE: Strengthen the internal functioning of nonprofit organizations so that they can effectively serve our community.

Priority 1: Organizational PlanningEncourage and support organizations to plan for change, expansion or partnerships to fulfill their missions more effectively.

Priority 2: Capacity Building — Help organizations implement changes in leadership, management or outreach capacity arising from systematic planning.

Priority 3: Education and Training — Provide opportunities for nonprofit leaders to become effective in fulfilling organizational missions.

Infant Mental Health – Catalpa Health
Building the organization’s capacity to provide mental health therapy for infants, birth to age five, by training 10 to 15 providers on infant mental health best practices. Read more
This grant also addresses the Basic Needs and Self-Sufficiency focus area.
Investment: $40,000; Priority: Capacity Building

Development at a New Level – Fox Valley Lutheran Homes, Inc.
Development of an administration/development assistant to help strengthen and build the organization’s effectiveness and sustainability by increasing revenue and development.
Investment: $9,000; Priority: Organizational Planning and Capacity Building.

Discovery Grant – Fox Valley Workforce Development Board
Support development of a multi-year, pro-active workforce strategy for potential or current low-skilled and underemployed workers, not otherwise qualified for the federal workforce funding.
Investment: $5,000; Priority: Organizational Planning.

Harbor House Domestic Abuse Programs – Harbor House
Implement a new staffing model to provide the appropriate level of safety, service and support for residents and clients as the organization expands its building. Read more
Investment: $67,500 (over two years); Priority: Capacity Building.

Project Tetris – Homeless Connections
Support development of a strategic partnership of housing nonprofits that work to provide more effective support of homeless individuals as they pursue greater self-sufficiency. Also supported by U.S. Venture, Thrivent Financial, J. J. Keller Foundation, United Way Fox Cities, and the Bemis Foundation. Read more
Investment: $6,100; Priority: Organizational Planning.

Sustainability Plan – Neighborhood Partners
Development of an advisory committee, three-year business plan and client/donor database to strengthen the organization’s overall effectiveness and sustainability.
This grant also addresses the Community Development focus area.
Investment: $22,052; Priority: Capacity building

Network for Good/Jump Start – Nonprofit Leadership Initiative
Supporting fundraising software and coaching to 10 nonprofit organizations participating in a one-year pilot to help sustainability. Read more
Investment: $25,000; Priority: Education and training.

2017 Fox Valley Ethics in Business Summit – The Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley
Sponsorship of the Ethics in Business Summit education and training.
Investment: $1,500; Priority: Education and training.

2017 Fall Nonprofit Board Training Workshop – Sponsored by the Community Foundation, United Way Fox Cities, Schenck and the Nonprofit Leadership Initiative
“Pursuing Nonprofit Sustainability: Using the Matrix Map to Make Strategic Decisions” presented by Steve Zimmerman with Spectrum Nonprofit Services. Read more
Investment: $6,954; Priority: Education and training.

Learn how to apply for a Bright Idea grant for a Nonprofit Effectiveness proposal.

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