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American Family Insurance commits $2.5 million to The Center for Black Excellence and Culture


Latest investment in new south Madison, Wisconsin project underscores the company's commitment to diversity and inclusion and closing equity gaps. 

American Family Insurance and the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation announced today a $2.5 million investment in The Center for Black Excellence and Culture, which is planned to open on Madison’s south side in 2023.

The Center for Black Excellence and Culture is the vision of its founder and CEO Dr. Alex Gee, pastor of Fountain of Life Church, founder/CEO of the nonprofit Nehemiah Center of Urban Leadership, host of the podcast Black Like Me and lifelong Madison resident.

The Center will be a three-level, 65,000-square-foot destination and will focus on the areas of health andThe Center building rendering wellness, leadership and innovation, performing and arts visuals, and youth and families.

“American Family is proud to join Dr. Gee and many partners in the creation of The Center to honor, learn from and celebrate the Black community and its achievements, rich history and culture,” said Bill Westrate, American Family chief executive officer. “This is an importantWestrate project for our community and our state, and we’re excited to be part of bringing it to life.”

“We’ve established a strong partnership with Dr. Gee and the nonprofit organizations he leads,” Westrate said. “We want this investment to inspire and encourage others to take part in making The Center a reality, and Madison a city that is welcoming to everyone.”

Dr. Gee has assembled a Black leadership team of community influencers working on every aspect of the project from business planning to program development to building design.

Dr. Alex Gee“With this inspiring gift, American Family Insurance is investing in a historic Black-led, Black-designed cultural and innovation strategy that will empower our community to thrive like never before,” said Dr. Gee. “Madison's Black community understands the far-reaching benefits of space like The Center to affirm, inspire and advance our collective Black excellence. Corporate gifts like American Family Insurance’s communicate that the larger community recognizes the tremendous economic benefit that a Black cultural home means for the entire community and region.”

The Center reports the $2.5 million gift further ignites strong momentum that’s building within the corporate community for the project. In the past 30 days, The Center has raised an additional $5 million in private support on top of the significant funds already secured. Among the many new donors, a new initiative, "Executives for Black Excellence,” has resulted in $1 million in personal donations from prominent local corporate leaders.

“American Family’s investment in The Center for Black Excellence and Culture is one example of our deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in Madison and across the country,” said Westrate. “It means continuing to take action – not only within the walls of our organization but throughout the communities where our customers, employees and agency owners live and work – for the benefit of all.”

Free to Dream – empowering individuals and communities
American Family’s pledge to The Center is part of its multi-year Free to Dream initiative, announced in February 2021 that pledges $105 million in investments over five years aimed at closing equity gaps and affecting social change. Free to Dream focuses on five societal issues: Economic empowerment; education and health equity; climate resilience; justice reform; and workforce diversity, equity and inclusion.

Continuing American Family’s investment in south Madison
American Family has made multiple investments to support the health and revitalization of south Madison, including being one of five major benefactors of the Madison College South Campus and funding a revolving loan program administered by the Urban League of Greater Madison to assist businesses that will be located in the new south side business hub.

In addition, American Family has partnered with Centro Hispano and the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development, and other nonprofit organizations on Madison’s south side, through grants provided by the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation. Through its partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, American Family also provides funding for the Odyssey Project that assists students living in poverty to overcome obstacles, and Odyssey Beyond Bars that offers college jumpstart programs to students incarcerated in Wisconsin prisons, both housed at South Madison Partnership.

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About the American Family Insurance group
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, American Family Insurance has been serving customers since 1927. We inspire, protect and restore dreams through our insurance products, exceptional service from our agency owners and employees, community investment and creative partnerships to address societal challenges. We act on our belief in diversity and inclusion by constantly evolving to meet customer needs and preferences. American Family Insurance group is the nation’s 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group, ranking No. 232 on the Fortune 500 list. The group sells American Family-brand products, primarily through exclusive agency owners in 19 states. The American Family Insurance group also includes CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance, The General, Homesite and Main Street America Insurance. Across these companies the group has more than 13,500 employees nationwide.