More Black familes are choosing homeschooling, citing bias and desire for culturally-rich education

Around 11:30 a.m., fourth grader Karleese, 9, was given a vocabulary word he had never said before. “In-thoo-see-as-thic?” Karleese said as he hurdled each syllable of the word on his computer screen. His mother Kaulia Powell, 37, coached from the end cushion of the couch where Karleese’s Wednesday English lesson was being held. “Enthusiastic…you got it!” said Powell patiently. Karleese calmly repeated the word as best he could.

The Bus Stops Here: For A Smart Move

New technology provides access and challenges to Madison’s bus system that must be adopted if Metro Transit is to be a viable transportation option moving forward. A major reason ride share companies such as Lyft are popular is that they made early use of smartphone technology, which enables riders to solicit a ride from/to anywhere at any time and pay via a credit card or similar cashless electronic transfer. Public transit has the competitive advantage however, IF it used smartphone technology as adeptly. After all, most people would prefer to pay $2 instead of $10 for the same ride. Before the era of smartphones, transit riders had been pining for years for Metro Transit smart cards.

United Way of Dane County launches flood relief fund

United Way of Dane County has launched a fund to aid those affected by recent flooding. Dane County officials estimate flooding caused $155 million in damage throughout the county. As local families recover from the flood, the relief fund will be used to meet their needs unmet by other assistance programs, such as utility payments and home repairs not covered by insurance. The entirety of the collected funds will be invested into aiding the community. “It is imperative that we assist long-term recovery efforts by leveraging our expertise in fundraising, community-led stewardship of investments and accountability for effective, measurable strategies that create stability,” said Renee Moe, United Way of Dane County president and CEO, in a statement.

JUST Bikes Unveiled the Last of Four Self-fix Bicycle Stations that were Constructed this Summer

JUST Bikes, formerly known as the Madison Bicycle Equity Group, unveiled four self-fix bicycle station, new bike racks, and recognized graduates of the Mobile Bike Repair internship program on Wednesday at Centro Hispano. The projects were made possible by Madison Community Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Year of Giving grant “Mad About Bikes.” Mad About Bikes provides access for all riders, regardless of economic status, and helps them take advantage of Madison’s Platinum-level status as a Bicycle Friendly Community. The $84,200 grant included a 1,100-bicycle giveaway in March, the installment of public fix-it stations, bike repair internships for community youth, starter bicycles for beginning riders, safety education and repair training for riders of all ages, and an electric-assist bicycle outfitted as a repair vehicle that travels throughout the city. Just Bikes’ Fix-it Bicycle Stations are equipped with various tools needed to keep bikes in working shape. The other fix-it stations were installed during the summer, and are located at Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, Bayiew Community Center, and Lussier Community Education Center.

United Way’s ‘Dane Changers’ teaches players how they can help in community

Despite Madison being rated as one of the best places to live, 64,000 people live in poverty in Dane County. That’s one in eight people, and one in six children. Dane Changers, an interactive digital game created by United Way of Dane County, teaches players about issues in education, income and health faced by people in the county who are living below the poverty line. The game, launched on August 21, introduces players to characters throughout the Dane County who tell players about their struggles, which raises awareness on the issues intertwined with poverty. From there, the game presents players with choices on how to assist those in need.

City of Madison, Cycling Without Age offering free trishaw rides to promote new public program

The Madison Senior Center is offering free trishaw rides on Monday as part of a demonstration of their partnership with Cycling Without Age. The partnership will introduce free volunteer-driven rides to local nursing home residents and the public. The two-hour event occurs during National Senior Center Month, the theme of which is “Building Momentum: Growing - Learning - Giving - Connecting.”

A trishaw, like a rickshaw, features the passengers in the front and a pilot behind them. The vehicle allows people with limited mobility opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, socialize and get from place to place. Madison’s trishaw, co-owned by Oak Park Place and Cycling Without Age, is the city’s first.

Madison artists give residents signs of life

Yard signs with messages about community and belonging have popped-up around Madison as part of a Madison Arts Commission temporary project. The project, called “If Not This, Then What?,” was created by Madison artists J.L. Conrad and Trent Miller. Sponsored by a Madison Arts Commission grant, Conrad and Miller, who are married, have given out over 200 signs for free so far since the project debuted in July. The signs contain three different phrases, including “It’s too early to know,” “You take it from here” and “If not this, then what?”

According to Miller, he and Conrad were inspired by the idea of getting people to see and think about how we anchor meaning in the world.  

“[Conrad and I] started talking about what would it look like if there were more poetic, open-ended signs in the world as opposed to ones that are so prescriptive, or political, or trying to sell something,” Miller said.

DreamUp Wisconsin Looks to Bolster Middle Class Income

On May 16 the University of Wisconsin - Madison launched The Alliance for the American Dream, which is a collaboration between the community and the university to produce ideas to increase the net income of 10,000 Dane County families by 10 percent by the year 2020. Although the median income in the county is about $65,000 with only 3 percent unemployment, there are racial and geographic disparities. United Way of Dane County said the black household median income is below $30,000 and the minority unemployment rate is over 20 percent. Schmidt Futures is funding the project, which is called the DreamUp Wisconsin Initiative. It is led by the Institute for Research on Poverty at UW-Madison.