Your name in Dane Arts mural!

Dane Arts muralists have created this beautiful 15 foot donor wall that you'll see when you enter the building.

Dane Arts muralists have created this beautiful 15 foot donor wall that you’ll see when you enter the building.

We’re happy to share that Dane Arts is supporting our project by assigning a team of muralists to custom design a donor recognition mural. Donors who have given at least $1,000 to the campaign will have their names included in this beautiful creative project!

The mural uses paper samples of Literacy Network learner writing from hand written papers and books. The pages have been painted and incorporated into a scene that the muralists designed in cooperation with Literacy Network staff.

Many thanks to Mark Fraire, Sharon Kilfoy, Alicia Rheal, and all of the students who have been a part of this wonderful work of community art! Don’t miss this great opportunity to have your name included in the mural. Donate today to support the project!

Adult learners deserve a quality learning center

“When you want to explain something and you don’t have a way to explain, it’s a wall,” Mario explained. “But, now it’s more open. This opened the doors. Now I can feel free.”  Thanks to the help they got at Literacy Network, Mario and his wife Maria have a thriving business, Evolution Cleaning. “I can explain more to them over the phone. I can feel more happy because now, my clients, we can talk about each other. Sometimes my clients ask about my life, my kids, my car. We can talk about more topics,” said Mario.

Mario’s success is just one of more than 800 workplace success stories over the last year. Literacy Network serves more than a thousand adults each year. 90% of our learners have a low income. Learners come from 68 different countries.

The need is great. Approximately 55,000 adults in Dane County struggle with low literacy, and the number is increasing. Low literacy means not being able to read prescription labels, notes from your child’s teacher or a job application.

Literacy Network has helped a growing number of adult learners reach their goals since 1974. Workplace goal achievement is up 20% in the last two years, and student persistence has increased 30% in that time period.

For the last 14 years, we’ve been in a Park Street location that is too small. Students are often packed into classrooms, and there are only a two tutoring spaces for individual work. It is an environment that doesn’t afford dignity to adult learners. So we are on a path to build our capacity and better serve adult learners.

Last year, we purchased a building for half the appraised value thanks to the generosity of Dean/St. Mary’s. It is four times the size of our current building, and in the heart of South Madison, where the poverty rate is more than 26%. Renovations have started. In just five weeks, we will move out of our rented space into this renovated building. But to do so, we need your help.

Literacy Network learners will have a dedicated space for childcare, a real library, five tutoring spaces and large classrooms. But paying for the building renovations, a technology lab, and operational support is where we need your help. When we reach our $3 million campaign goal, we will double the number of adults we serve through basic reading, writing, and language education. Now through the end of July, your online gift at will be match dollar for dollar by our campaign team and generous donors.

I invite you to tour the new space where adult learners will feel dignity, respect, and excitement about meeting their personal literacy goals. Mario’s story of success is one inspiring example. Will you support families like Mario and Maria’s? Learn more about how you can support their dreams at

Jeff Burkhart,

Executive Director, Literacy Network of Dane County


Join us for a tour at the new building!

We hope you’re available to join us and invite colleagues and friends for a tour on one of the following three dates:

Tues, July 19

Tues, July 26

Thurs, Aug 4


Each tour starts at 9:30 a.m. here at 1118 S Park Street.


Guests should RSVP to so we can reserve you a hard hat.  All guests will need to wear close-toed shoes since the building is under construction.


We will meet at 9:30 at the current Literacy Network office (1118 S. Park Street) for a brief tour of the current work space.  We can then drive/carpool to 701 Dane Street and tour the new Literacy Network offices.


Our project manager, Menno Huiser


Paint has just arrived!


We’re moving ahead with our new home!

Progress is happening quickly as we prepare for a mid-September opening at the new home of Literacy Network!

232 donors have invested in the project, with just over $1.276 million raised toward our $3 million goal.

Now through the end of July, your contribution will be doubled. Make your impact today!

Level 3 English students came to visit the new space on July 11.

Level 3 English students came to visit the new space on July 11.


Staff tour the large classroom in our new building (Jul 6)

Staff tour the large classroom in our new building on July 6.

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Community members join us for a tour on July 7.


A dollar-for-dollar challenge!

We need to raise another $500,000 in the next 60 days to help us move into our new home at the end of the summer.

It is going to take all we’ve got, and we need your help!

Wall Family Enterprises and our campaign team have offered up a $55,000 challenge:

They will match every dollar donated by a volunteer or online supporter between now and the end of July!

Here’s how you can get involved:
1. Double your impact by making a donation today to help meet our goal.

2. Take a few minutes to share why you are involved, and encourage friends and family to get involved by visiting

3. Invite people to visit us at our current and our new location on Thurs, July 7 at 9:30 am or Mon, July 11 at 9:30 am. Two tour dates are scheduled of our current and new spaces. We hope you can join us to get a sneak peek of our new home and hear what it will do for our adults and families.

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Hard Hat Tours

July 7 at 9:30 am

July 11 at 9:30 am

Meet at our current office location (1118 S. Park Street) for a brief tour and go to our new space (701 Dane Street) for a hard hat tour. Everyone will need to wear close-toed shoes. Hard hats will be provided!

Please contact Jen Davie ( or 608-244-3911) to reserve your space.

If neither of these dates work for you, Jen would be glad to find a time that works better.

You can help build capacity for families

Recently, the Channel 3 News team joined us for a tour at our new building and discussed the major gift of $100,000 from UW Health and Unity Health Insurance! View the tour on 

What will this new learning center mean to adult learners?  It will mean dignity and respect for those with limited educational opportunities. It will mean sufficient space for vital programs — a dedicated library, childcare space, tutoring rooms, classrooms and a technology lab. It will mean greater earning power to emerge from poverty.

Nearly 200 donors have stepped up to join us! We are so grateful for all of the gifts toward this major goal — more than $1.2 million in gifts and pledges have been contributed by our community. But we are still short of our goal. That is why we need your help this summer to raise $500,000 by the end of August so that we can pay for renovations and open our new learning center.

More than 1,000 families ask you to step up to this challenge. Learn more at, and give a call at 608-244-3911 to discuss your ideas for making this goal a reality. Make your contribution today. Thanks so much for all you do to improve our community! 2016-06-08 09.42.22

The Capital Campaign in the News

Wisconsin State Journal
, May 12, 2016

“The Literacy Network is trading its cramped quarters in what was once a cheese shop for nearly quadruple the space in the former Wingra Clinic and the ability to serve twice as many people seeking to improve their English language skills.

After some renovations and updates to the former medical center, the Literacy Network plans to open the doors this fall at its new location at 701 Dane St., executive director Jeff Burkhart said.

St. Mary’s sold the former clinic to the Literacy Network for less than half of its appraised value, Burkhart said. The nonprofit organization launched a $3 million fundraising campaign last month to cover costs associated with its new facility.”

Read the entire article here:


Construction Taking Shape

1 in 7 or 55,000 adults in Dane County have low literacy, but we’re committed to bringing that number down. Executive Director, Jeff Burkhart, explained that “this campaign is about dignity, it’s about giving people respect and helping them to see themselves differently. When people are in [the new] building, they’re going to see themselves differently.” Read more about our move here.

Check out how our new space is taking shape. Just image our learners in this brand new, bright, spacious learning environment! Think it will make a difference? We know it will!

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Construction update!

Construction began last week at 701 Dane Street on our new home! It was a lot of fun to see the walls starting to come down.

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“It is Unacceptable”

It happened in the middle of an inspiring event celebrating the accomplishments of learners using the services provided by Literacy Network of Dane County. “The space Literacy Network occupies is not acceptable for the people we serve,” said Literacy Network Executive Director Jeff Burkhart. “Our adult learners are working toward their goals in a space that is too small and doesn’t afford them the dignity necessary to their progress. They deserve better.”

Those words kicked off the official Growing Through Literacy Campaign and a goal of raising $3 million dollars to renovate the former Wingra Clinic on Madison’s south side as the new home for Literacy Network. The surprise announcement was made by Burkhart during Reading Between the Wines on April 28. “Our service model is effective and efficient,” Burkhart said. “Literacy Network does so much with so little, using more than 900 volunteers who give 30,000 hours of their time every year. But the limitation on our services because of too little space is just unacceptable.” Burkhart says the larger, remodeled space will allow Literacy Network to double the number of adults served with basic reading, writing and language education.

  • Approximately 1 million Wisconsin adults qualify for adult literacy and English language services, but only 50,000 (or approximately 5%) of adults in need of services are currently receiving them. (US Census and the National Adult Literacy survey 1992).
  • In Dane county, more than 55,000 residents lack the functional literacy skills and/or English language skills needed to read a letter from their children’s teachers, a job application, a label in a grocery store, or instructions from a doctor. (US Census 2000 and the National Adult Literacy Survey 1992)

More than 800 adults demonstrated improvement in reading, writing, and English last year. Duane is an example of the success. “Reading changed my life,” Duane says. “ I want to go to college. That’s my goal. It’s why I come here. Reading is like a miracle.”

The miracle to help many others like Duane is underway. Learn more about the Growing Through Literacy Campaign, and track its progress:

 About Literacy Network

Literacy Network teaches reading, writing and speaking skills to Dane County adults and families so they can achieve financial independence, good health, and greater involvement in community life.
Literacy Network is a non-profit organization in Madison, WI founded in 1974. We work with teachers, tutors, volunteers and donors to improve adult literacy in Dane County. Our programs help adults find career opportunities, read with children and help with homework, improve computer skills, understand finances, and speak with doctors about health concerns.

Literacy Network programs include classes and tutoring programs throughout Dane County which engage more than 500 volunteer tutors and serve more than 1,000 adult learners each year.
Our strong partnerships with businesses, libraries, hospitals, clinics, schools, and social service agencies build essential community connections for our program participants at twenty eight Dane County sites.