13:03 PM

Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County receives $750,000 grant from American Family Insurance for AVID/TOPS Program


American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation three-year investment announced by Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County President and CEO Michael Johnson at a news conference today in Madison. 

RELEASE SOURCE: Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County

Academic success is at the core of everything we do at Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County (BGCDC). Our school-based programs uniquely integrate with local school districts to mitigate opportunity gaps, and help provide youth with the resources and experiences needed to reach their full potential. We are incredibly grateful to announce a renewed commitment from American Family Insurance and the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation to our AVID/College Club, AVID/TOPS and TOPS College Success Program over the next three years in the amount of $750,000.

The investment was announced at a news conference today which included: Michael Johnson, president and CEO of BGCDC, Maggie Pascaly, American Family community and social impact manager; Gloria Reyes, Madison Metropolitan School District school board president; Alex Gagnon, vice president of school-based education for BGCDC; AVID-TOPS program student member Vanessa Elizabeth Bahena Hernandez (2021 BGCDC Youth of the Year and 2021 Youth of the Year Wisconsin state finalist); and Robert Nwadinobi, (B.F.A. in animation and motion graphics, UW Madison 2020, AVID/TOPS alumni and BGCDC intern).

AVID, an acronym for Advancement via Individual Determination and TOPS which stands for Teens of Promise, is a high-intensity, in-school and out-of-school partnership between Madison Metropolitan School District (AVID) and the BGCDC (TOPS). The program focuses on supporting students to develop the writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading skills needed to be college and career ready.

“We would not be where we are today without the support of American Family Insurance. We have one of the most successful college access and success programs certainly in Dane County. Certainly in Wisconsin and likely the Midwest, if not nationally,” said Michael Johnson. “Thank you American Family Insurance on behalf of the 4,476 students we’ve served thus far and the thousands of students we will prepare for academic success in the future.”

American Family Insurance and the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation have been long-time supporters of the BGCDC and of the AVID/TOPS program specifically. Over the last five years, American Family Insurance and the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation $1M investment has accomplished the following:

  • Helped our organization to scale AVID/TOPS from one classroom of 28 students to over 1,600 students this academic year (2020-2021) in both our secondary and post-secondary tiers.
  • Solidified AVID/TOPS as one of the key drivers of equity within the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) and has positioned AVID/TOPS and TOPS College Success as a leading initiative in the state of Wisconsin connected to college access and success for first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color.
  • Increased the number students served to nearly 150 students annually in our AVID/College Club programs at Cherokee Heights Middle School and James C. Wright Middle School.
  • Has supported 4,476 students across our AVID/TOPS high school program throughout the duration of the grant.

American Family Insurance and the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation funding has played a critical role in supporting, sustaining and scaling our efforts that have driven impressive impacts:

  • Students in the AVID/TOPS program reported fewer excused and unexcused absences than their peers;
  • Students have received higher cumulative GPAs and increased levels of AP and Honors course credits - a predictor of success in college;  Students have graduated from high school at higher rates and enrolled into post-secondary education at unmatched levels.

Further we have seen significant results for our TOPS College Success Program’s persistence and degree-completion efforts:

  • On-time enrollment into post-secondary at rates between 92%-95%.
  • Year-to-year college persistence rates averaging approximately 83%
  • Six-year college completion rates - a national benchmark of success for the field - have reached 45% and are approaching 50% this academic year, and over 190 students have earned their college degrees.

“Our investment in the BGCDC AVID-TOPS program in 2016 was the first major commitment of the newly formed American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation because it was, and continues to be, one of the most successful and statistically significant drivers of equity in the Madison Metropolitan School District,” said Jim Buchheim, American Family corporate and social impact officer. “Five years later, we’re pleased to continue our investment in this program because we fully recognize the opportunities and support BGCDC provides as advocates for scholars throughout their educational journeys.”

The key to the success of the AVID/TOPS program is the decades plus partnership with Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). This high-intensity partnership has been approved by the MMSD Board of Directors and codifies with a three-year Memorandum of Agreement. With the support of MMSD Superintendent Dr. Carlton J. Jenkins, there are ongoing conversations about extending our partnership from a 3-year model to a 5-year agreement due to the history of success.

Thank you to American Family Insurance, American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation and MMSD for your ongoing support and investment in the success and future of young people in our community.

If you would like to support AVID/TOPS academic programs, please visit more information about Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County, visit

This community investment partnership is part of the American Family Insurance Free to Dream initiative announced Feb. 23, 2021. American Family has pledged $105 million over the next five years to further its already deep commitment to closing racial equity gaps and affecting social impact and positive change in communities across the country. Free to Dream focuses investments on five societal issues: Economic empowerment; education and health equity; climate resilience; criminal justice reform; and workforce diversity, equity and inclusion.

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Media contact for Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County:
Laura Ford-Harris
Chief Development Officer

About Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County
We are a local not-for-profit youth development organization serving over 6,300 youths in eleven locations, including eight school-based sites and three traditional Club sites. The Clubs fuel kids with the inspiration to dream and teach them the skills to achieve when they’re most impressionable through quality programs in five core areas: Character & Leadership Development; Education & Career Development; Health & Life Skills; The Arts; and Sports, Fitness & Recreation. See the impact we make in the life of each Club member here:

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. 254 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 13,200 employees nationwide.

About American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation
The American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation, Inc. builds upon the long-standing support of the communities we serve. As our mission has evolved from corporate giving to community investing, we’ve turned our focus to building strong partnerships with nonprofit organizations that help us strengthen both families and communities. We are committed to practicing action beyond philanthropy to contribute to the creation of more equitable communities. For more information, see the Making a Difference page of