Celebrating 50 years
Operation Fresh Start is celebrating 50 years of serving disconnected youth ages 16 - 24 in Dane County and guiding them on their path to self-sufficiency!
OFS participants earn their high school diploma, attain a driver’s license and gain work experience in the construction and conservation fields. They build affordable homes in our community and help maintain the natural beauty of our city and county parks.
There are 3,600 disconnected youth in Dane County – young people who are neither working nor attending high school. 70 percent of our participants are young people of color. More than 40 percent of our participants are housing-insecure, often “catching a couch” in exchange for chipping in for living expenses. Many of our participants are in this program to overcome barriers in their lives such as homelessness, mental health problems, learning disabilities, substance abuse issues or criminal records. Operation Fresh Start is working to ensure successful outcomes for current and future generations of low-income and people of color in our community.
Operation Fresh Start’s work is important now more than ever, as we deal with dual pandemics: coronavirus and systemic racism. We know that Madison is among the worst in the nation when it comes to disproportionate Black vs. White arrest rates, academic achievement gaps, and low percentages of African-American homeownership. Operation Fresh Start is providing an opportunity for young people to avoid dropping out of high school, to get a job so they aren’t forced to commit crimes of poverty, and to learn conservation and construction skills that can lead to high-paying careers.
Along with helping disconnected youth gain the training and education necessary to land a job to support themselves, OFS is committed to providing emotional support for our young people. OFS staff members are mentors who talk through conflicts with participants, share advice and help them make a plan for success. Participants have shared with us that at Operation Fresh Start, they feel there are adults who care and have their backs.
Virtual kickoff - First 50 / Next 50
OFS originally planned to host an in-person luncheon to connect with community partners and donors and to kickoff our 50th Anniversary 15-month celebration. However, we are moving the event online to ensure we're doing our part to keep our supporters, staff and participants safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
We're kicking off the celebration with an online fundraising effort throughout the months of August and September. Thank you to our 25 "Crew Leads" who have stepped up to spread the word and recruit their friends, family and network to support! All dollars donated to the campaign will be matched up to $50,000 thanks to the generosity of 2nd Market Capital Economic Opportunity Foundation!
Any supporters who donate $50 will receive an OFS 50th anniversary commemorative t-shirt.
OFS Video Series
Our video series will be live streamed Friday, Sept. 18 - Wednesday, Sept. 23. You can watch from noon - 12:30 p.m. each day on the OFS YouTube channel or Facebook page. We will be looking back at Operation Fresh Start's 50-year history, hearing from participants we've served and highlighting the impact of our organization on Dane County. Each day we'll feature a theme, a speaker on that theme, and an award recipient.
Park picnic event
Any supporters who donate $100 will receive a ticket to our in-person event at Warner Park on Thursday, Sept. 24. We will practice social distancing and provide individually-packaged meals. We will also have a speaker panel and discuss future OFS programming that's made possible thanks to community donations!
Thank you for supporting Operation Fresh Start's growth and development. Your contributions will allow us to continue our mission to provide a path to self-sufficiency for young people in Dane County!