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Startup Company Executive of the Year: For Sanders, service is a priority for 365

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Another of the organization’s initiatives is to contract with Madison schools to install and manage food pantries for needy families. The first food pantry opened in September at Glendale Elementary, and in just two months it had served 250 households, including 526 adults and 617 children, and food pantries at Leopold and Lakeview schools were set to follow.

Just in case you’re wondering if it was forbidden for faith-based institutions to enter into an agreement with the public schools for any program, even one so necessary and philanthropic in spirit, Sanders says there was no controversy over the separation of church and state. “It wasn’t as difficult as people would imagine,” he states. “First of all, the school district has already done a wonderful job of partnering with churches, and we were coming to them and saying, ‘We want to help coordinate and structure and streamline processes to make sure we’re more effective in helping in schools.’

“And so, philosophically, if you look nationwide, churches give more than almost any organization. So, we’re coming to them saying, ‘Look, you need volunteers. We already have a volunteer base just by going to the faith-based community.’ We’re providing people for volunteering, but also for fundraising. We have a volunteer base of people who are, because of their faith, more willing to donate. That’s part of the core of who we are.”

The schools benefit in their mission, as well, because children of color enter the classroom better nourished and ready to learn. “Right, I agree with that,” Sanders states, “especially when it comes to black and Latino children. The church has historically been part of our culture and our DNA. To separate that would be a disservice to the people who might want to serve in the schools and a disservice to the identity of those children. So, it’s easier for us to go the black community and to black churches and Latino churches and say, ‘Hey, look, we want you to serve in the community because, historically, that’s what our churches have always done.’”

Honors galore

The Executive of the Year award isn’t the only honor bestowed on Sanders and Madison365. The organization also received the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce Media of the Year Award, it was named the Collaborator of the Year by the Black Women’s Leadership Conference, and it was given The Amigo Award for Hispanic Heritage Month.

The EOY recognition is special to Sanders because it means his business peers appreciate his contributions. “Anytime you get recognized for what you’re doing, it’s always an honor,” Sanders notes, “but it’s more of an honor when you’re recognized by peers who are doing the same work, who are trying to build businesses or organizations, and who understand the hard work and the passion that goes into it.”

For more details about the Executive of the Year event and to purchase tickets, visit

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