MGE Foundation

Established in 1967, the MGE Foundation is MGE’s philanthropic arm. Support from the Foundation helps our local organizations improve lives today and the lives of future generations by working to preserve the long-term health and vitality of our community.

In the last five years, the Foundation has given more than $6.5 million to more than 400 community organizations. These organizations help to create a better present and future in many ways, including:
  • Supporting the community’s most vulnerable populations.
  • Fostering our community’s culture, arts and history.
  • Protecting our health and environment.
  • Advancing diversity and inclusion.
  • Educating and nurturing our children.
The Beacon

Foundation Giving: Community Service

The MGE Foundation’s contributions to local organizations help to support long-term quality of life in our area and serve those among us who are at risk. From support for local community centers to our area’s domestic violence shelters, from child counseling and daycare services to our local food banks, our public libraries and beyond, there are many people working hard to serve and to improve our community for those who live here.

We see it as our responsibility and privilege to support these efforts and to work as partners. Here are some examples of the more than 200 organizations the MGE Foundation supported in 2019 and 2020.

The Beacon

The Beacon, Madison’s Homeless Day Resource Center, provides those who are experiencing homelessness in Dane County with a safe space where they’re treated with dignity and respect, a place where their essential daily needs are met and a place where they can connect with dozens of service providers. Catholic Charities opened The Beacon in 2018 as a year-round day shelter for Dane County’s homeless residents. Every day, more than 100 people rely on The Beacon for meals, a shower, laundry services, a mailing address, access to computers and help in finding food, housing, employment as well as assistance in mental health and addiction.

From its inception, MGE and the MGE Foundation have supported its next-door neighbor. Kelly Medenwaldt, Executive Director of Programs for Catholic Charities, points out that MGE is a valuable neighbor that is part of its community advisory team and that many MGE employees have volunteered their time during their lunch breaks, after work or on weekends. Employees also have donated many in-kind items thanks to drives they have organized. Medenwaldt says The Beacon relies on hundreds of dedicated volunteers, and support from the MGE Foundation makes it possible to recruit, train, support and acknowledge those essential volunteers.

The Beacon

The Beacon provides needed services and serves as a day shelter for Madison’s homeless population. Photo courtesy of The Beacon.

"The MGE Foundation helps support our volunteer operations, which during the COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely vital. Additional training and procedures have been integrated for not only the population's safety but also the staff and volunteers."
Kelly Mendenwaldt, Executive Director of Programs,
Catholic Charities


Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center

The Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center serves Madison’s eclectic east Isthmus neighborhood, providing a host of activities and programs for neighborhood residents and summer festivals. As the center’s long-time Executive Director Gary Kallas notes, Wil-Mar not only provides vital services to the community, but it celebrates its place and its residents. Wil-Mar exclusively produces Fete de Marquette and collaborates with other area nonprofits to offer the Willy Street Fair and Atwood Fest. All three events bring people together for music and fun, help support small business development and help fund the center’s many programs.

Support from the MGE Foundation helped with the purchase of a nearby parking lot and playground and a renovation project of the former church turned neighborhood center. The result of the interior renovation is a beautiful, functional community space designed to meet the center’s current and future needs.

The Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center before

The Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center lobby before the recent renovation project. Photo courtesy of Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center.

The Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center lobby after

The Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center lobby after the renovation. The renovation also created a more functional community space. Photo courtesy of Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center.

"We're tickled at how supportive and aware the MGE Foundation was of our programming. We're confident this renovation project will take our building into the next 50 years."
Gary Kallas, Executive Director,
Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center

Children's Theater of Madison

Foundation Giving: Culture and Enrichment

As the Capital City, Madison enjoys a rich history from the seat of government to the state’s flagship university and the vision of Frank Lloyd Wright, architect of the city’s lakefront Monona Terrace. Building upon Wright’s legacy, the city’s vibrant cultural scene has grown with the community. The MGE Foundation recognizes the importance of culture, art and history to the fabric of our community. We’re committed to supporting the local programming, creativity and education that enrich our community.

Madison Youth Arts Center

“Stage skills are life skills,” explains Roseann Sheridan, Artistic Director of the Children’s Theater of Madison (CTM). Through theater, song, dance or any arts experiences, Madison’s youth feel welcomed, included and valued as they learn teamwork, creative thinking and empathy. Many Madison-area youth arts organizations have been hindered by overcrowded, expensive and inaccessible space. This lack of space lessens their ability to offer more educational programs and reach more children in the community.

Much-needed space is on the way. The new Madison Youth Arts Center will soon be home to CTM, Madison Youth Choirs and more than a dozen other area youth arts organizations. These groups will bring thousands of youth together under one roof. Singers, dancers, actors and artists all will benefit from the state-of-the-art facilities. Sheridan enthusiastically notes that the intersection of youth arts “breeds opportunity and removes barriers to dream together.” The Madison Youth Arts Center will provide a space for youth from all backgrounds to explore, create and connect through a variety of arts programming.

The new Madison Youth Arts Center

The new Madison Youth Arts Center will house the Children’s Theater of Madison, Madison Youth Choirs and dozens of other youth arts groups, bringing thousands of youth together under one roof. Photo courtesy of Children’s Theater of Madison.

"Support from the MGE Foundation makes it possible for us to provide students with limited financial resources the opportunity to build confidence, develop empathy and form community through the experience of theater."
Roseann Sheridan, Artistic Director,
Children's Theater of Madison

Prairie du Chien Historical Society

The Prairie du Chien Historical Society does more than preserve the history of Wisconsin’s second-oldest community and its historic Fort Crawford Hospital Museum. It provides educational and interactive opportunities for visitors to learn about the adjacent Mississippi River, early settler life and Native American culture. Through school tours and summer Fridays at the Fort, visitors experience demonstrations of open-fire cooking, Native American music and Civil War militia training.

The Historical Society’s latest project is the renovation of a historic 1820s French-Canadian log house known as the St. Germain dit Gauthier House. When completed, it will resemble the type of shelter French-Canadian fur traders and the early settlers of Prairie du Chien called home.

The Prairie du Chien Historical Society was formed

The Prairie du Chien Historical Society was formed and incorporated in 1996. It owns and operates the Fort Crawford Museum, which preserves and highlights the history of Prairie du Chien. Photo courtesy of Prairie du Chien Historical Society.

"Money is wonderful, but the support also reinforces that what we are doing is worthwhile. Small historical organizations want to give back to the community and support lets us do programming and preserve history."
Mary Elise Antoine, President,
Prairie du Chien Historical Society

Northwoods Land Trust

Foundation Giving: Environment and Health

Investments today can yield a more sustainable tomorrow—launching environmental initiatives, advancing quality health care and building bridges of understanding. MGE has long supported health initiatives that touch many lives—from infants to seniors. We also have funded initiatives to protect our water, air and land as we work to educate the next generation. Environmental progress and a healthier population go hand in hand. We’re dedicated to promoting both in the communities we serve.

Gathering Waters

Land trusts help protect Wisconsin’s water quality, recreational areas and wildlife habitat. Gathering Waters—an alliance of the state’s 42 land trusts—provides leadership and training that ensure those land trusts are strong and sustainable nonprofit organizations for now and generations to come. Gathering Waters’ Executive Director Mike Carlson uses three Ws to describe what drives their work—water, wildlife and the Wisconsin way of life. Gathering Waters and its member land trusts protect sources of drinking water and access to public waterways, high-quality wildlife habitat and properties that provide outdoor recreation opportunities. For the last quarter century, Gathering Waters has advocated for public funding for land and water conservation, delivered training for land trust staff and board members, and promoted the value of protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources by encouraging people to get outside.

“Foundation grants have helped connect people to the land and celebrate conservation successes around the state through activities like Wisconsin Land Trust Days and our annual land conservation leadership awards,” says Carlson.
Gathering Waters

Gathering Waters provides tools, resources, educational opportunities and a network of volunteers to increase awareness of and engagement in the opportunities and benefits land trusts bring to the communities they serve. Photo courtesy of Meg Domroese.

"The MGE Foundation is so supportive of our work in communicating the importance of land conservation and connecting people to land."
Mike Carlson, Executive Director,
Gathering Waters

Clean Wisconsin

Clean Wisconsin has been working for more than 50 years to protect and preserve Wisconsin’s clean air, clean water and natural heritage. Working with multiple stakeholders, lawmakers and local leaders, Clean Wisconsin assists with policy development that creates green infrastructure, helps scale up existing environmental ordinances, and protects and preserves the state’s abundance of drinking and recreational water.

Lasting impact relies on education and communication. Support from the MGE Foundation is helping Clean Wisconsin create lasting impact by funding efforts to collect and share personal stories about drinking water. These stories highlight how clean air and water help protect people’s health and support a strong economy.

Clean Wisconsin

Clean Wisconsin has a campaign focused on ensuring everyone in Wisconsin has access to a clean, safe and plentiful water supply. Part of the campaign focuses on sharing personal stories about drinking water to highlight how clean water helps protect people’s health and supports a strong economy. Photo courtesy of Clean Wisconsin.

"We are telling the personal stories of people and highlighting stories about drinking water in Wisconsin. This is the direction our communications need to go to successfully improve drinking water quality, and the MGE Foundation is an early and strong partner in that effort."
Mark Redsten, President and CEO,
Clean Wisconsin

Equity and Inclusion

Foundation Giving: Equity and Inclusion

Respecting the differences of all people, perspectives and cultures helps us to advance the well-being of our community. MGE supports organizations that advocate for inclusion and provide opportunities and programs to help people reach their full potential regardless of race, ability, socioeconomic status, gender identity or sexual orientation. Our service area is fortunate to have a wide array of organizations that strive for the equitable participation of all groups in the communities we serve.

The Progress Center for Black Women

The Progress Center for Black Women helps empower Black women to transform their lives and those of their families and become community leaders and entrepreneurs. Sabrina Madison, the founder and force behind The Progress Center, explains that many Black women in Madison don’t have access to support or to positive business relationships. She’s dedicated to creating a different dynamic through the Black Women’s Leadership Conference and The Progress Center for Black Women.

Madison says MGE and its employees, like Community Services Manager Cedric Johnson, assist Progress Center clients by sharing information about energy efficiency as well as resources and programs for managing utility payments. During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Progress Center continues to assist clients facing economic hardship and has secured personal protective equipment to help clients stay healthy.

The Progress Center for Black Women

The Progress Center for Black Women was established to create more powerful communities for Black women. It has built and designed an innovative center that serves as a hub of community, connections, valued experiences and opportunities for Black women to transform their lives and families. Photo courtesy of The Progress Center.

"MGE's funding is great, but the overall support is what is so important."
Sabrina Madison, founder,
The Progress Center for Black Women

NewBridge Madison

NewBridge Madison, created in 2019 when four area senior coalitions combined, provides older adults with a bridge to successful aging. NewBridge Madison provides a variety of services for adults age 60+ in the community. Low-income older adults receive case management services that include accessing food, transportation, housing and medical resources. NewBridge Madison provides weekday food and fellowship at 13 meal sites around Madison and Monona. Thousands of area older adults turn to NewBridge Madison for a host of social opportunities, footcare, health education and physical activities each year. Seniors throughout Dane County can participate in specific programs and activities for African American and Latino older adults that provide social activities and health education. NewBridge Madison also partners with the Hmong Institute to help provide nutrition and case management to Hmong seniors.

NewBridge Executive Director Jim Krueger says support from the MGE Foundation has helped NewBridge’s core nutrition and cultural diversity programs. He says, “It’s wonderful to have MGE’s support to close the gap for these important programs.”

Each of the four senior coalitions that merged to

Each of the four senior coalitions that merged to create NewBridge Madison in 2019 provided services to area seniors for more than 45 years. NewBridge’s mission is to provide older adults with a bridge to successful aging. Photo courtesy of NewBridge.

"Without help from MGE, we couldn't do as much outreach, especially to the Latinx community."
Jim Krueger, Executive Director,

Youth and Education

Foundation Giving: Youth and Education

Today’s youth represent our community’s future. MGE and the MGE Foundation are committed to providing the next generation with energy education for a more sustainable tomorrow. From elementary to college students, MGE provides programming around energy efficiency, sustainability, safety and utility industry careers. We also support local organizations that enrich the lives and expand the minds of young people through science, technology, engineering, arts, math and beyond. Education and opportunity fuel a vibrant community, strong local economy and healthy families for our future.

One City Schools

One City Schools is open to all students from preschool age to second grade. It serves predominately African American and economically disadvantaged students. More than a school, it provides young learners with the foundations for success. One City Schools is where preschool and elementary students learn to think critically and creatively, solve problems, communicate effectively and work collaboratively. It’s where families are engaged and supported. It partners with higher education and community organizations to provide learners with state-of-the-art programming and hands-on training for the next generation of teachers.

One City Schools’ preparatory curriculum engages preschool (One City Preschool) and elementary (One City Expeditionary Elementary School) students as it prepares them to be grade-level ready and life-long learners. In the five years since it began educating young children, One City Schools’ student-driven approach has significantly increased reading proficiency and grade-level readiness for its students, and other schools are learning from its approach.

One City Schools

One City Schools is committed to preparing young children for success in school and life. It provides affordable, accessible and high-quality preschools and community programs and tuition-free grade schools that partner with parents and the community. Photo courtesy of One City Schools.

"We've set out to seed a new model of public education, from birth through college and career. Our goal is to create a seamless transition for children from early childhood through elementary and, eventually, through high school where our students will complete at least 30 college credits in high school. More families are realizing this is not just a school. It's a community they can be a part of."
Kaleem Caire, founder, President & CEO,
One City Schools

UW-Madison Odyssey Project

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Odyssey Project—a four-part program now in its 18th year—uses a multigenerational, whole-family approach that empowers participants to overcome obstacles to education, find their voices and discover a life-long love of learning. Instructors introduce students to literature, philosophy, history and art to help them improve their writing and critical thinking skills. Odyssey class members earn college credits and receive wraparound support as they find their educational pathway. Onward Odyssey provides graduates with continued support. More than 75% of alumni take additional college coursework, some even moving from homelessness to bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Odyssey Junior enriches children and youth through intensive literacy and arts-based learning. Odyssey Beyond Bars transforms incarcerated students as they earn college credits and gain a new sense of possibility.

The Odyssey Project was selected as the 2019 Madison Club Charity Gala recipient. The MGE Foundation was a major sponsor of the event, which raised more than $200,000 to support the Odyssey Project.

The UW-Madison Odyssey Project

The UW-Madison Odyssey Project is a four-part program that uses a multigenerational and whole-family approach to help participants overcome obstacles to education. Photo courtesy of the UW-Madison Odyssey Project.

"By inviting nonprofits to make a difference, the MGE Foundation helped Odyssey change lives."
Jenny Pressman, Director of Development and Community Partnership,
The Odyssey Project