Fresh start closer for Operation Fresh Start

$500K grant will support an expansion project for the organization and increased support for more youth in Dane County.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Operation Fresh Start (OFS) is getting a big boost in the form of a $500,000 gift from the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation Inc. toward the organization’s Building Futures Capital Campaign.

The campaign, launched in January 2017, is the first capital campaign OFS has undertaken in its 47-year history. It has secured the site of a future home at 2670 Milwaukee St. in Madison and is raising funds to fulfill its vision of an organization with increased partnerships and services. The American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation gift will help fund the transformation of the new facility into an education and employment-training center where the agency will be able to serve twice as many youth.

“This incredibly generous gift will make an impact on Dane County youth for generations to come,” says Gregory Markle, Operation Fresh Start’s executive director.

The American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation grant will support OFS youth construction crews and community partners who are doing the physical work on renovating the space. OFS youth also have the opportunity to job shadow the electrical, HVAC, and plumbing contractors working on the space. The project will serve as a workforce training experience for participants to “learn as they go” during the next 15 months of construction and expose them to various living-wage career paths after they obtain their diplomas with Operation Fresh Start.

“We’re proud to support the efforts of Operation Fresh Start and its work that restores hope, dignity, and self-confidence to young people so they can find their path to self-sufficiency,” says Judd Schemmel, director of American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation. “The results that Operation Fresh Start has achieved in Dane County speak for themselves, when more than 76% of the organization’s clients obtain their high school diplomas or acquire jobs that pay a living wage.”

The campaign will allow for the complete transformation of the former Holy Cross Lutheran Church and School into a vibrant youth empowerment center where OFS participants can attain their high school diploma, find a career, or get a second chance in life.

More than $3 million of the $4.5 million capital campaign goal had already been raised, and the $500,000 gift brings the total raised to more than $3.5 million, which means Operation Fresh Start is just $1 million dollars away from fulfilling the dreams of its stakeholders.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to help young people finish high school, learn a trade, and hold their heads high for what they have accomplished,” note Lau and Bea Christensen, Building Futures Campaign chairs, in a joint statement. “We are so appreciative of the generous gift from American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation and others who have contributed to this campaign. Our goal is in reach and our hope is this generous community will be inspired to continue to support us during this final stretch.”

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