Foundation invests $730,000 in child-focused strategic grants

WATERTOWN — The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation has made $730,000 in strategic grant payments this fall for multi-year, child-focused investments in communities including Lake Mills, Johnson Creek, Watertown, Jefferson and beyond.

Strategic grants are initiated by the foundation based on the needs of the community and the momentum of community partners. The following grants are supporting the foundation’s focus areas of Strengthening Families, Third-Grade Reading Proficiency, Social and Emotional Life Skills and Healthy Eating/Active Living.

Grants recipients are:

• Scratch Food Transformation, $75,466.

The “fuel-up” nutrition program in the Johnson Creek School District is continuing this year, enabling the food service department to transition from traditional heat and serve food to healthier options. Students are benefiting from scratch-cooked, delicious breakfasts and lunches prepared daily using fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy, and clean label foods.

• Prevention Social Worker, $136,500.

The human services departments in Jefferson and Dodge counties are implementing Community Response, an innovative pilot program designed to prevent child maltreatment and neglect by targeting specific risk factors. The program provides at-risk families with a dedicated prevention social worker called a Family Advocate, who helps them build protective factors and connect to needed resources.

• Mental Health Framework, $110,000.

The Watertown Unified and Jefferson school districts are in their third year of this grant, which supports the staffing, resources and professional development needed to implement the Wisconsin School Mental Health Framework. The framework includes universal strategies and targeted supports to improve student attendance, academic and emotional health indicators.

• Playworks Active School Recess, $81,500.

Recess provides time for students to develop skills like leadership, problem-solving and collaboration through play. Playworks Active Recess creates recess environments that promote physical activity and inclusion, positively impacting school safety, climate and student learning. Playworks coaching is being provided to Watertown Unified, Dodgeland and Lake Mills Area school districts.

• Early Care and Education Model for Social Emotional Development, $61,098.

The Pyramid Model is an evidence-based early care and education model that positively impacts child development and classroom behaviors. The Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health is providing Pyramid Model coaching to the Watertown Unified and Dodgeland school districts, Willows Christian Child Care Center, Future All Star’s Academy and Mary Linsmeier of Watertown.

• Wisconsin Reading Corps Tutoring, $30,000.

Educational research shows individual tutoring is critical to improving reading success. Watertown’s Douglas and Webster Elementary schools are benefiting from Wisconsin Reading Corps, a program that provides trained reading tutors, expert coaching and data-driven processes. Tutors are working one-on-one with kindergarten through third-grade students who need extra reading support.

• Summer Learning Program Pilot, $12,000.

Summer learning loss, also known as summer slide, is a significant contributor to the achievement gap. BellXcel is an evidence-based summer learning program that helps prevent the slide with curriculum, resources, assessments and professional development. The program was piloted with groups of elementary students in the Watertown Unified School District last summer.

• School Attendance Effort, $3,850.

Chronic absenteeism is a huge deterrent to reading proficiency. For that to improve, the Watertown Unified and Dodgeland school districts are implementing a data-driven, best practice attendance challenge called Challenge Five. It communicates the importance of regular attendance with families and provides personalized supports, all aimed at having students record fewer than five absences in an academic year.

• Quality Improvement Processes, $45,500.

Watertown Unified and Dodgeland school districts are working to create cultures of continuous process improvement. Studer Education, a nationally-recognized firm that helps districts improve outcomes, is coaching them through quality improvement processes that support student achievement, employee engagement, parent satisfaction, department performance and financial effectiveness.

• Pediatric Dental Access, $175,635.

Of the 11,000 children in Dodge and Jefferson Counties covered by Medicaid, only 40 percent receive dental care in a given year, according to data from the Kids Count Database. This grant supports Church Health Services and Community Dental Clinic in expanding access to pediatric dental care for children in need.

The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation was formed in 2015 out of the joint venture transaction between the Watertown Regional Medical Center and LifePoint Health, with the purpose of promoting and enhancing the health and wellness of the community. To date, the foundation has invested more than $4.75 million in five strategic priorities: Strengthening Families; Kindergarten Readiness; Third-Grade Reading Proficiency; Social and Emotional Life Skills; and Healthy Eating/Active Living.

To learn more about the foundation and supported initiatives, visit