Why I am involved?

Our project is in a position to succeed with a strong and growing capital campaign board. Hear from them in their own words why they have committed their time, expertise and influence to growing Literacy Network’s reach through this campaign.


Photo of oard member Rich Lynch“Every one of us knows the frustration that can go along with clearing up a mistake on your credit card or phone bill…or understanding an income tax form…or maneuvering through health insurance coverage issues over the phone…..well imagine dealing with any of these if you struggle with the language being used…or with reading in general. More than 55,000 adults who live and work right here in Dane County face major challenges with literacy…most live in poverty…and this major challenge holds them back from advancing in their jobs and increasing their contributions to their families… and to our community. The Literacy Network programs are efficient and effective…and they make a difference every day…but they are limited in their reach by inadequate space and a need to grow programs…and grow their amazing volunteer base. I have committed to help with the campaign because Jeff and his team have proven they can make a difference…and we need to give them a better environment to take their efforts scale…and when we do this right, everyone wins….”

– Rich Lynch
J H Findorff & Son


Photo Betty Harris CusterOne of my passions in my fundraising and personal giving has been children and trying to help make sure that children in families with less financial well- being than our own can still have every opportunity we as a society want them to have for their sakes….and for our own. We as a society will be richer by them living up to their potential.. So knowing that one of the most important factors of success for a child in school is the education level of his or her mother made me feel that Literacy Network fits right in the middle of that passion zone for me. Since Literacy Network helps parents achieve a greater level of literacy the parents can be more involved in homework and reading, and help the community lessen the achievement gap.

-Betty Harris Custer


Photo of Dipesh NavsariaSpace matters. Human beings need space in order to strive, grow, and be happy. It’s not just physical space, of course, but “brainspace” — the room to think, learn, and muse. It’s also “timespace” — having enough “give” in one’s daily life to be able to laugh, love, and be a productive member of both family and society. Fluent literacy offers all of these forms of space as a building block of education, career, and modern life. Literacy Network is the only local organization that directly addresses literacy at a hands-on, learner-touching level to nurture the growth of all these forms of “space”.

After all these years, it’s important to take a moment and consider the various “spaces” of Literacy Network. They excel at brainspace — successful, innovative programs which work for the students they serve. They have a vast footprint in timespace — hundreds of volunteers offering countless donated hours of dedication and expertise. But when it comes to physical space — there isn’t enough. Literacy Network has long since outgrown the building they inhabit, and in turn that restricts the good work they already do.

Space matters. Support the Literacy Network Capital Campaign today.

– Dipesh Navsaria


Photo of Lynea LavoyIf knowledge is power, then literacy is the key to the kingdom. As a program director and instructor at Madison College, every day I see the power of literacy for our community members. As a mom literacy is important to me and to our family; we have three small children and I cannot imagine being unable to read their homework, their notes from their teachers, the doctor’s note, and a book to them. As we confront some great issues about war and diplomacy, immigration and citizenship, health care and human rights, and fair access to education and employment, literacy allows us to make informed decisions for ourselves.

Simply put, literacy is a cornerstone of our freedom. Summed up I will quote “Malcolm X: “As I see it today, the ability to read awoke in me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.

– Lynea LaVoy


Photo of Maureen MinerI believe everyone should have the opportunity to apply for a job, understand a prescription, and read to their children. Unfortunately, in Dane County one in seven people struggle with these activities. Through the help of Literacy Network tutors, staff, and volunteers, individuals learn the skills needed to help them be successful and gain confidence. One learner, after more than 20 years of unemployment, worked with the Literacy Network to improve her computer skills and as a result she successfully landed a job as a captioning assistant. Renee said, “It feels good that society hasn’t given up on you.” The Literacy Network serves over 1,000 individuals each year. which not only helps them and their families, but our community as a whole. Let’s work together toward ending the cycle of illiteracy.

– Maureen Miner


Photo of Rich BirrenkottI have always been a firm believer that a child helped today will change the future of tomorrow’s children.

I believe that investing time at Literacy Network will provide tools and resources to parents of children who find difficulty in communicating with their children’s teachers.

The end result creates a family who enjoys being members of the local community.

– Rich Birrenkott


Photo of Laurie BensonI place a high value on people having choices in their lives. My interest and support of the Literacy Network of Dane County stems from the fundamental facts..low literacy is one of the major barriers to opportunity for thousands for adults in Madison and Dane County. One in six adults in Dane County lives in poverty. We know that low literacy and poverty are correlated. The dedicated leadership and staff at the Literacy Network provide real pathways to opportunities through reading for individuals and families every day that create jobs and improve the health and quality of life for those they serve.

– Laurie Benson Executive Director, Nurses on Boards Coalition


Photo Pete LundbergI am inspired to support Literacy Network because the need is so great, and by addressing literacy, it has a snowball effect in helping individuals AND their families for generations to come. It’s about parents being able to read to their children, about patients understanding the medical process, or about workers getting better employment because they have the tools to excel. This wonderful organization accomplishes so much on a small budget, in part because almost 1000 volunteers are providing countless hours to make a difference. As a business owner, I really appreciate the way every dollar is leveraged, and can’t help but imagine how much more will be accomplished with a larger space and the ability to double the number of students. We will actually dramatically reduce illiteracy in our community, and that will help us all on so many levels…. it’s really exciting!

– Pete Lundberg, owner Janus Galleries and capital campaign committee member


Photo of Fred GantsIf you can’t read, you can’t do much. You’re likely to have a low wage job, and face big obstacles supporting your kids and getting quality health care. Unfortunately, one of seven adults in Dane County, or 55,000 people, face literacy challenges because of language or disability barriers. But there is hope and opportunity! Literacy Network is a United Way agency that provides 900 volunteers who give 30,000 hours of time in 28 locations to help learners read and communicate well, and be their children’s best teachers. As a person who grew up in an apartment and became a labor and employment lawyer, I joined the Board of Directors because of my commitment to see all people grow and advance. While the hours currently provided by our organization are impressive, they don’t even match the people who need to be served. That’s why Literacy Network is moving to a larger building to serve our adult learners better and increase the number of people who can achieve more success in our community.

– Fred Gants, board member and attorney at Quarles and Brady


Progress update on renovations

We’re moving ahead with our plans to renovate the former Wingra Clinic at 701 Dane Street in Madison. To date, we’ve raised approximately $636,000 and have purchased the building with no debt.

We are happy to announce that J.H. Findorff and Sons will donate time and expertise to manage the renovation of the building. Many thanks to campaign team member Rich Lynch for helping us with this relationship!

To begin the renovation of the building, we need to raise $400,000. Our campaign committee is hard at work in strategizing our outreach to the community. We greatly appreciate your help in doing connecting to the community and people who would be wi8lling to help out with this project.

We are closing in on a deal with a tenant to lease approximately 2,500 square feet of the space. Income from the rental of the space will cover the cost of utilities and building maintenance.

In October, we had the roof fully redone and had the building checked for asbestos and environmental concerns. We are happy to report that there are no environmental concerns with the building and we are clear to begin the renovation stage of the project.

We plan to begin renovation in January 2016

Many thanks for your support of our work. Because of you,  we are able to serve more than 1,000 adults and families each year.

I have an exciting update on our efforts to build the capacity of Literacy Network to double the number of people we serve by 2017.

As you know, we’ve been in need of more space for several years. After a year-long search, we entered an agreement to purchase a building on South Park Street, which is the former home of the Access Wingra Community Health Center. Thanks to several generous donors, the seller SSM Healthcare and the City of Madison Community Block Grant Committee, we completed the purchase last month with no debt!

The building is 12,000 square feet. By comparison, our current building is just 2,800 square feet.

We have secured the in-kind support of J.H. Findorff & Son, who are helping to coordinate the renovation of the building. The building is only 25 years old, and needs no major structural overhaul. However, the roof and furnaces need to be replaced, new cooling units need to be purchased and internal walls need to be changed.

We plan to begin renovation of the building in January, 2016. In order to conduct the renovations, we need to raise an additional $600,000 by the end of the year.

Will you consider supporting the capital campaign?

Read more about the campaign at our website: www.growingthroughliteracy.org. I would be glad to discuss the project with you in more detail. Simply give a call 608-244-3911 and I’ll be glad to talk or give you a tour of the new space.

Thanks so much for your support of our work!


Jeff Burkhart

Executive Director
Literacy Network

The building has been purchased!

Thanks to the many campaign donors who have already contributed to this effort, Literacy Network purchased the former Wingra Clinic on June 16, 2015. We are working toward our goal of $3 million to make the needed renovations to the building before we can move in the middle of 2016.

Many thanks to the following donors who have helped us make the incredible progress we have made so far in our campaign:

Fanny Anguiano
Richard and Elizabeth Askey
Karen Bender
Laurie Benson
Richard and Sheri Birrenkott
Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation
Lau and Bea Christensen
City of Madison
Carol Cohen
CUNA Mutual Foundation
Jeff Burkhart and Eva Shiffrin
Magic Pebble Foundation
First Business Bank
Marie and Dale Ganser
Fred Gants
Webcrafters Foundation
Beth and Fermin Gaytan
Michael Goldsberry
Hausmann-Johnson Insurance
Liz Herbst
Jason Iverson
J. H. Findorff & Son
Autumn Jackson
Shawn and Jessica Jackson
Burneatta Bridge and John Selbo
Stephen and Susan Labelle
Stuart Levitan
Marvin Levy
Stephen and Patricia Lucas
Peter and Jill Lundberg
Rich and Mary Lynch
Madison Gas & Electric Foundation, Inc
Dwayne McMillen
Jack Meyer
Jonathan and Maureen Miner
Nancy and Tom Mohs
Dipesh Navsaria
Jane Nemke-Earl
Bill and Mary Niedermeier
Laura Ortiz Cruz
Jennifer Peterson
Ximena Restrepo
Barb and John Rockenbach
Erika Rosales
Royalty Fund of Triangle Community Foundation
Jane Scharer
Richard and Judy Mahy Shiffrin
Julie and Timothy Snyder
Shawn Steen
Patty Stockdale
Timpano Group
Tara Torrens
US Bank

Hosting a Literacy Network 101

Literacy Network has a great story to be told, as you know if you’re already supporting us. We need more people to know about the work of our volunteers and staff.  One of the best ways to share our story is word of mouth.

At Literacy Network 101, your friends and colleagues can learn more about the challenges faced by low-literate adults. Our hour-long LitNet 101 presentation is offered every month, and is a great way to hear more about the needs of our community as well as the programs Literacy Network has in place to address those needs.

Let us introduce you to adults impacted by low-literacy and how, through working with our programs, they are able to overcome their challenges. Best of all, you’ll learn how YOU can make a difference. We can host the event here at the Literacy Network office, at your office, or in your home.  Invite your friends, family, coworkers to hear about what we do.  To schedule a LitNet 101 contact Jen Davie at jdavie@litnetwork.org or 608-244-3911.