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Year in Review


Thank you for a great 2023!

Last year was filled with hard work, great memories, and celebrations. It's all possible thanks to supporters like you! Enjoy this round-up of highlights from each month in 2023. You can also view all of our past newsletters on our website. Here's to the new year!

🎨 January

The mural was completed! This mural, located on the back of the Reach Dane/OFS building on Milwaukee Street, was designed by Reach Dane, local artist Amy Zaremba, and DAMA (Developing Artist Murals and Alliances). OFS hosted a community paint night where OFS participants worked alongside Reach Dane staff, parents, children, and community members painting some of the key elements in the mural.

💻 February

Our new website launched! Out of the Box Advisors provided in-kind services in the redesign of the website and staff training for the new platform.

🛠️ March

It was Women in Construction Week! OFS hosted WRTP / BIG STEP's Women in the Trades Career Fair with 33 community businesses, organizations, and unions! We were honored to work together on such a great opportunity for women looking to join the trades.

🌎 April

We celebrated Earth Day! In 2023, Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy and Dane County Parks put together indoor activities and presentations in a last-minute change when the weather turned to cold rain. Staff, volunteers, and participants learned about watersheds, trees, bird watching, and native plants. We helped divide and re-pot native plants like milkweed, prairie phlox, and coneflower.

📷 Photo thanks to Dane County Parks

🏆 May

We celebrated Jasmine Banks! Jasmine is our Empowerment Programs Manager and was selected as an honoree of YWCA Madison's 48th Women of Distinction Leadership Award this past year! Jasmine is a role model to youth, adults, and small business owners in our community and beyond.

📣 June

We worked alongside OFS alumni! Thanks to the City of Madison’s Youth Violence Prevention Grant, OFS was able to hire three former participants for the summer in 2023 as Outreach Associates to help engage new participants! T'Zari, a Legacy alum and Drive graduate, Breeah, a Drive and CareerScape graduate, and Mea, a Legacy and Conservation Academy alum, all had a great time and polished their professional skills.

🏠 July

Two houses were completed! Build Academy (pictured above) and one of our Legacy construction crews celebrated the completion of two house remodels on Mifflin Street near downtown Madison! These projects were in partnership with Common Wealth Development, providing affordable housing to our community.

🧑‍💼 August

Our ED announced his retirement. Greg Markle, Executive Director at OFS, will be retiring this spring in 2024 after serving OFS for the last 13 years! Currently, the Board of Directors is in the process of hiring our next ED.

🥂 September

It was our 3rd annual gala! We hosted the Navigate Your Future Gala at Goodman Community Center. Over 200 people attended to celebrate our participants, staff, and award winners. Check out 2023's award winners in our feature newsletter from last September.

🌱 October

Time for the Seed Challenge! October saw the annual Dane County Prairie Seed Challenge. All of our Legacy and Conservation Academy participants, plus plenty of staff, spent the morning collecting native plant seeds at two prairies. This is a yearly challenge in partnership with Dane County Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wisconsin DNR. Unfortunately, we lost our trophy to Dane County Parks, but we all had a great day in amazing weather anyway!

💼 November

The first CareerPoint cohort! Our newest program, CareerPoint, saw its first graduation in November! Participants Torin, Trish, and Syenna completed eight weeks of essential skills training with program coordinator, Lydia Partee. The cohort formally interviewed with UW Credit Union and is working toward an employment path in the finance industry.

📖 December

Our 2023 annual report is here! Click here to view the digital PDF and see more about each of our programs, letter from the Executive Director, tons of photos, and more.

With a new Executive Director being named this spring, 2024 is going to be a year of change for OFS. One thing that will never change is the commitment of our staff, board, volunteers, and partners to provide support and opportunities for emerging adults in our community! If you are able, it’s not too late to give a gift to help lead us into the new year and be part of this exciting future.

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