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One City Schools closes equity gaps and advocates for families

Help comes from Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation grant

Despite the cancellation of the 2020 American Family Insurance Championship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation continues to have a charitable impact by making direct donations to primarily local non-profits, including those providing COVID-19 relief. This is the fourth in a series on local organizations that are grant recipients.

Wisconsin is known for having the widest racial achievement gap in the nation, creating a necessity for programs to help combat the equity gaps between white students and students of color.

Established in 2016, One City Schools was created to fight these gaps and has worked tirelessly to provide Madison’s underserved communities with access to quality education.

With a strong, nationally recognized curriculum, One City Schools offers unique programs that utilize a two-generation community impact approach working with parents and students to create accessible, tuition-free schooling.

They have one preschool and one grade school from kindergarten through second grade with a goal of expanding by one grade per year up to the twelfth grade.

A unique approach to education

Recognized as a public charter school in 2018, One City Schools tackles equity gaps through the village approach to education.

This approach utilizes serving students holistically from early education through their preparation to enter college or the workforce. One City Schools uses community support to provide a quality education consisting of student-led, project-based learning and family education.

Their education model engages children and parents alike and consists of unique practices compared to a traditional public school. One City Schools operates year-round for longer hours, has healthy meals for students comprised of organic, preservative-free foods, and has transformative programs that help meet parents' needs.

They are also one of the only programs of its kind in the nation.

One City Schools is guided under the partnership of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education, which is conducting a longitudinal evaluation of the school, and has several education experts on their team.

Since its establishment, One City Schools has seen notable success. In 2019, Black/African American students at One City Schools had increased reading proficiency scores compared to those at other Madison schools.

“We want to be a pilot that can demonstrate to others that innovative ideas, like those practiced in our schools, can be applied and help all children succeed,” said Jessica Tormey, vice president of external relations and policy at One City Schools.

Because of the village approach, One City Schools has created formidable connections with the community and the families they serve. Now, during the pandemic, their support is more critical than ever.

Relief for families during COVID-19

One City Schools has played an increased role in families’ lives since the beginning of the pandemic.

Tormey explained the need to support their families any way they can. “In many cases, we’re the only support they have,” she said.

The Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation grant helps One City Schools support families by providing meals and personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and thermometers. They have also been able to create a relief fund for struggling families, which, in some cases, has gone towards essential needs such as rent and groceries.

One City Schools has also been able to adapt and supply technology to all their students to accommodate virtual learning.

Since One City Schools rely heavily on community donations for funding, Tormey stressed the importance of the grant. “We truly wouldn’t exist without the generous contributions of organizations such as the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation, who have provided us with endless support.”

Learn more

Learn more about the good work that One City Schools is doing for the Madison community on the organization’s website.

In its first four years, the American Family Insurance Championship provided proceeds of more than $7.1 million to 280 charitable organizations through the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation. This year's contributions bring the total to more than $10 million.