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Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation grant helps Reach Dane provide Head Start services for children in poverty

The PGA TOUR Champions American Family Insurance Championship is BACK in 2021! We’re proud the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation continued to have a charitable impact in 2020 despite the cancellation of the event, by making direct donations to primarily local non-profits, including those providing COVID-19 relief. As we lead up to the 2021 event, we’re highlighting more of the organizations who benefited and were able to continue their important work in our communities.

The number of people experiencing homelessness in the Madison, Wisconsin and surrounding areas has increased in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated housing instability for families. A large percentage of people experiencing homelessness includes families with infants and toddlers. That’s where Reach Dane comes in.

Reach Dane has been working in the community for more than 50 years to help positively change the lives of underserved children and their families through education and support services.

Reach Dane is the only agency in Dane and Green County offering Early Head Start and Head Start programming, which provides a comprehensive system of support for families including physical and mental health, dental services, nutrition and transportation. According to Reach Dane, the number of infants and toddlers experiencing homelessness enrolled in their programs has tripled during the past four years. Reach Dane provides early childhood services to more than 1,000 underserved children ages 0-5 years old in Dane and Green Counties through home-based and visitation programs.

Amy Selenske, the comprehensive services director for Reach Dane, oversees the organization’s Home-Based Health and Family Services. Her work includes connecting with various providers to help meet the needs and goals of the families they serve.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic began, they had to adjust their approach.

“The challenges and barriers only increased for the population we serve during the pandemic, so we did everything in our power to meet the needs of families in a virtual format," said Selenske. "We also made food deliveries, provided educational materials for children in their homes, connected families with community resources, and provided access to transportation for medical appointments or COVID-19 testing."  She hopes they’re able to shift back to in-person activities in the fall, following public health guidelines.

Reach Dane has been able to continue operating and assisting families, thanks to community support, partners and private donations. This support helps provide services such as emergency or extended hotel stays, eviction prevention and education services, to name a few.

Reach Dane has received two grants from the American Family Insurance Championship proceeds distributed via the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation. The first grant was used to purchase a playground, tricycles and an outdoor playhouse for children. These items not only provide fun for the children, but are tied to favorable health outcomes by promoting physical activity and play.

The second grant was received during 2020 when the charitable aspect of the tournament continued despite the cancellation of the event. “The second grant was very well-timed and appreciated because there were families with urgent needs,” said Selenske, “We’re very grateful for the support from the grant, as we were ablet to authorize funds for rent, groceries and transportation at a time when they were desperately needed.”

With community support, including the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation, Reach Dane can continue to offer high-quality services for children and families in southeast Wisconsin. The organization also plans to stay connected with social justice, race and equity work which will amplify the voices of those who have been marginalized.

Watch this video to learn more

Learn more about Reach Dane and the positive impact they’re having in helping families coping with homelessness in this video. And visit their website for more background and information on services.

In its first five years (including funds distributed despite the cancellation of the 2020 event due to COVID-19), the American Family Insurance Championship has provided proceeds of $10.2 million via contributions to the American Family Children’s Hospital and grants to more than 400 charitable organizations through the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation.