Catalyst – June 2017

Wisconsin Bookworms

Planting the Seed of Excitement for Reading at an Early Age

We’ve been hearing it for years: parents aren’t reading to their children enough. One 2013 study from the School Library Journal sites that two-thirds of parents don’t read to their children every night. Another 2016 survey from group Read Aloud 15 Minutes found that half of all parents read aloud to their children on a daily basis, and only 34% of parents read aloud to their children every day. The list goes on.

The Green Lake Home and Community Education Wisconsin Bookworms project is actively making a difference to ridge this gap. The program was developed in an effort to provide free books to children who may not otherwise be able to own them. Wisconsin Bookworms promotes reading by giving preschool children the experience of having someone read to them. By reading aloud to young children and providing them with free books of their own, these volunteers are providing this critical activity that so many parents are ignoring.

Filling a Community Need
Reading to young children helps them develop a love of reading along with an enthusiasm for learning. Children from families with limited incomes may not have the opportunity to own many books. According to the US Department of Education “some experts believe that for America’s poorest children, the biggest obstacle to literacy is the scarcity of books and appropriate reading material. In many homes, particularly those with adult non-readers, there simply aren’t any books appropriate for young children.

There is considerable evidence of a relationship between reading regularly to a child and that child’s later reading achievement. It is based on research indicating that literacy is key to staying in school and out of trouble. Studies show that parents who are given books and a prescription for reading by their children’s pediatricians are four times more likely to read and share books with their young children. Children who are read to frequently are nearly twice as likely as other children to show three or more skills associated with emerging literacy. Wisconsin Bookworms brings together readers, mentors, and children on a regular basis throughout the school year.

This past academic year, Wisconsin Bookworms in Green Lake County provided a set of eight books to 170 three and four year old children in early childhood, Head Start, and 4K programs. Each month, fifteen volunteers read books to the children, engaged them in a related activity, and gave the child the book to take home to keep, and read at home. That’s a staggering 1360 books and over 500 volunteer hours reading to children!

Board Spotlight – Dave Elbing

To those who have been given much, much is expected

The role that a community foundation plays is shaped and molded by the vision and expertise of its board of directors. In honor of the role that each member of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation (OACF) board plays, it is a pleasure to feature a board spotlight every month. Today’s featured board member: Dave Elbing.

What is your role in the community outside of OACF
“For many years I worked for a company called Laser Specialties (a promotional product company) as their head of sales and marketing. Currently I’m working up to 50 hours each week as a professional handyman.”

How did you get involved with the OACF board?
“It was just about 16 years ago when Eileen Connolly-Keesler (former President/CEO of the Community Foundation) invited me to serve on the finance committee. I really enjoyed my time on that committee. I served there for three years, joined the grants committee, served there for another three years, and then eventually I was invited to join the board. It’s bittersweet, but this year marks the end of my term-limit as a board member.” Dave will continue to serve at as the chair of the OACF marketing committee after his board term is over. “With regard to the marketing committee, I’m a firm believer that the more ideas you have coming at you from talented smart people, the more informed your decisions will be.”

What are your thoughts on volunteerism?
“To those who have been given much, much is expected. I’m a big advocate for volunteerism. Once up a time I was on the boards for the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, OACF, Christine Ann Center, Meals on Wheels, and the Traffic Advisory Board for the City of Oshkosh simultaneously!” On top of Dave’s board service, he participates in medical trips to Haiti twice annually where he runs triage for the team, collecting vitals, stats, and determining who each patient is going to see and when they will be seen.

What has been the most rewarding board experience for you to date?
“As a general observation, any time you’re a part of something prosperous, it’s fun! It’s been rewarding to see how much the foundation has grown and developed since the turn of the century. I’m particularly proud of how visible OACF has become in our community. For example: whenever I see the Tri-County Dental bus (mobile clinic) around town I feel great seeing our logo and knowing that we helped bring this service to people in need of it in our community.” In addition to large projects like the mobile clinic, Dave appreciates the intimate experience of seeing all of the help that his family funds make possible.

Why do you like to give?
“I like to give because it makes me feel good! I was brought up to understand there are just situations in which you need to help others. If you want a great community, then you need to help your community! That’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about the work that OACF is doing!

Thank you for all of your service to the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation!

New Funds – May

Marsha and Richard Hughes Health Fund

PBnJs Mental Health Fund

Carey and R.J. Sharpe Family Fund

Dr. Eric Smiltneek Healthy Student Fund

Ralph and Kathryn Mosling Family Fund

Patrick Began Memorial Rocket Scholarship Fund

Winneconne Roadrunners Scholarship Fund

Impact Area

Health & Wellness

The Foundation is proud to support the Tri-County Dental Bus, who provides over $4 million of dental services to low-income and medical assistance residents within Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago Counties.

OACF 89th Anniversary

Oshkosh Area Community Foundation celebrates 89 year

It passed us by without much pomp & circumstance, but on February 14, 89 years ago, The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation was formed. Though the mission and vision have slightly changed over the years, the overall concept of the Foundation has not. We have, and always will, support the organizations and programs that make a positive difference in our community.

Growin Our Digital Presence

Using Data to Deliver

You may have noticed some changes to the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation digital presence since April. According to a 2016 survey by the UW-Oshkosh Business Success Center, 22% of our service area is craving more stories about our community, and 31% of our service area prefers their news to come digitally.

To act on this information we are responding with the following communication improvements:
-Twice daily Facebook posts (short stories)
-Weekly blog posts (long stories)
-Monthly e-blasts (this monthly highlights digest)
-A completely renovated website! (exp. 03/2018)

Partner Spotlight – Project CURB

Collectively Upgrading Restoring & Beautifying our schools!

According to Forbes, we only get a seven second window to make a first impression before someone makes a judgement. As humans we instinctively make quick judgments, and then stick with those preconceptions until they are challenged. This hangs over how we perceive and interact with that which we’ve judged for months or even years!

The average age of an Oshkosh Area School District building is 78 years. That’s a long time! An onslaught of images comes to mind when I think of structures of that age, predominately the beautiful brickwork featured on so many of our schools, but with anything there are pros and cons. During a community listening session hosted by Oshkosh4Education (O4E), community members indicated that unwelcoming entrances, overgrown foliage, and neglected walkways gave visitors an unfavorable impression of our school district.

Thanks to these community listening sessions and citywide support from groups like the Oshkosh Area School District (OASD), Oshkosh Area Community Foundation (OACF), Partners at Learning (PALS), community activists, and Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTO) from the schools, Project CURB arose from the marketing arm of O4E under the leadership of Beth Wyman.

Project CURB was announced to the Oshkosh community at large during a launch event on April 27th at Webster Stanley Middle School. it is a community-driven effort to improve the curb appeal at all public schools, with the mission to collectively upgrade, restore, and beautify our schools.

What is the end-goal of Project CURB
On Saturday, September 23rd between 8:00 am – 12:00 pm every public school in the district will get a makeover, so to speak. Project CURB will ensure that the exteriors of our schools match the academic excellence taking place inside. Thousands of volunteers will come together to: paint, update signage, add bike racks, install benches, plant trees, bushes, and flowers, and so much more!

In addition to the physical upgrades to the exteriors of our schools, Project CURB will have long-lasting intrinsic awards for our community. Personally, this project will increase home property values, strengthen neighborhoods, and boost community pride. Economically, this project will help promote Oshkosh as a destination district, and attract new students and families to our schools.

How can I get involved?
By now you might be saying to yourself, “Self, this is terrific! How do I get involved?” There are threethings that you can do to make a substantial impact:

1. VOLUNTEER – Project CURB needs upwards of 2000 volunteers to make this blitz a successful reality.
2. DONATE – For those who prefer to volunteer with their wallets, all donations are meaningful! Project CURB is seeking $200,000 to fund all of their renovations. Updates for each school have been decided upon by school principals and PTO groups.
3. SPREAD THE WORD – The success of projects like these depend on people like you sharing your excitement and determination for our shared goals. Share this information on your favorite social media platform like Facebook, send it in an email, or print it out and post it in the office by the water cooler. Do anything that you can to drive conversations and engagements. Our students will thank you!

For up-do-date information be sure to following O4E on Facebook or read more on their website. If you’d like to talk to someone face-to-face, consider stopping by the O4E booth at the Oshkosh Farmers Market most Saturdays through September.

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