Community, education, occupation, and health care central at South Madison Promise Zone events

Madison’s Poet Laureate Fabu, also known as Fabu Phillis Carter, led writing workshops and met with community members for a South Madison Promise Zone event at the Urban League of Greater Madison on April 19. The event, held for April’s poetry month, was part of South Madison Promise Zone’s monthly community night events, held to promote shared and varied experiences.

The South Madison Promise Zone Initiative, a project launched by the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) in 2010 to transform South Madison into an area with strong communal and family support, has been active in addressing concerns within the community and supporting the educational, occupational, communal, as well as health care needs of the residents.

Constant and collaborative efforts have taken place since the Promise Zone’s “Get it Right Night” event that took place on Oct. 24 last year.

Hedi Rudd, project coordinator for the South Madison Promise Zone, said innovation teams comprised of community members and service providers gathered bi-weekly after the “Get it Right Night” to discuss solutions for issues that arose through reports or surveys.

“The next step is to gather all the information and incorporate it into the implementation plan,” said Rudd. “Once released, the South Madison Promise Zone will cooperate with leaders of the [innovation] teams to tackle the issues that have been raised.”

Peng Her, executive director of the South Madison Promise Zone, said the innovation teams have helped devise specific plans for each of the four categories: occupation, education, health care, and community.

“For education, we have created what are called innovation centers in the Urban League of Greater Madison, public libraries or any easily accessible locations to provide free internet services for residents without internet,” said Her. “Also, depending on the years of residence, we are providing partial to full scholarships to residents within the school district who plan to attend any state, private, or technical college.”

Her said he was amazed by the input from residents, who suggested the creation of a program – the patient navigation system -- intended to help residents navigate through the complex health care system and receive proper care.

“Many of the ideas came from the residents themselves,” said Her. “Even the patient-navigation system was proposed by one of the residents as a cost-effective way to provide mutual support.”

Either working alone or cooperating with various local organizations, the South Madison Promise Zone has been part of many events.  

“Our goal in arranging these events is to amplify the voices of the community members as well as raise awareness of what’s taking place,” said Rudd.

On April 27 the South Madison Promise Zone arranged a sickle cell blood drive and kidney screening for the presence of kidney diseases or conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure with support from the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin and the Madison Public Health Department.

“This is the first kidney screening [to be held] in Madison. It targets African American males primarily,” said Rudd.

Most recently South Madison Promise Zone hosted a community night May 17 on environmental sustainability, featuring bike riding and smoothie making as well as a bulb exchange.

South Madison Promise Zone has recently used social media such as Facebook to publicize its events. Her said there are pros and cons to the use of new media.

“It is both a blessing and a curse, in the sense that [social media] makes it easy to get the information out, but [it reaches] even to people other than the residents from the zone,” said Her, referencing an attendance of over 300 people at the Family Science Night on March 15 that was arranged for 100 people.

Despite the overexposure, social media has been a positive force, added Her, in allowing non-residents to see the cultures and people from the South Madison zone and realize that it is not as dangerous a place as some might have thought.

As a prospective group striving to give continuous support to the community, Rudd said the South Madison Promise Zone will continue to raise awareness as well as gather volunteers to help the community.

“Our current goals are to proceed with the implementation plan and to work on fundraising,” said Her. 

Visit South Madison Promise Zone's facebook page for updates and forthcoming events.

ULGM 2013-14 Strategic Priorities_April 2013.pdf982.97 KB