Bayview Foundation: Community Togetherness and Opportunity at a Time When Needed Most

Photo by Bayview Foundation

Bayview Foundation Inc.s guiding purpose is to facilitate families as they meet their needs, realize their dreams, and make contributions to the community. Together, Bayview Foundation and Bayview Townhouse residents have created a people-proven model of successful, dynamic cooperation that works.

The Bayview Foundation supports its culturally diverse, low-income families in realizing their aspirations by providing affordable housing; fostering cultural pride; and building community through the arts, education, and recreation. The organization says, These key elements evolved from more than 40 years of experience in the business of neighborhood development. We are a good neighbor, nestled amidst downtown Madisons government, healthcare, and educational complexes.

Alexis London has served as interim executive director since September. She has been with Bayview Foundation since 2015 in the role of community programs manager. Her duties now include property management and housing operations.

With more than 15 years of experience working for nonprofitsprimarily working toward community development through arts, culture, and community programmingAlexis combines her love for working with people with her passion for community development. I believe in social justice and making a change in the world. We are all part of this process together.

Photograph provided by Bayview Foundation

Currently, the organization is fundraising for a new playground for its families and children ages 5 to 12 in the neighborhood. Alexis says they have raised $35,000 of their June 1 $50,000 goal. We hope to install a state-of-the-art playground on the grounds adjacent to our buildings.

The playground will have climbing elements, bridges, slides, and all of the other classic playground features. According to Alexis, it will also include an outdoor classroom; public art pieces; and a dedication sculpture to Call for Peace, a performing arts organization with a long history at Bayview Foundation. There are 125 children under the age of 18 who live at Bayview Townhouses. They need a safe, play-based structure that encourages gross motor activity, cooperation, communication, healthy risk taking, and fun. The new playground will also be a place for community members of all ages to gather and connect, Alexis says.

Anyone can make donationsindividuals or corporationsto the Bayview Foundation. Donations can be made in person or on the organizations website. In addition to the playground, donations can be directed toward any of the following initiatives: early childhood preliteracy programming, after-school and summer camps for children ages 7 to 18, community gardening, senior and adult wellness classes, and food access programs and events. Bayview also seeks volunteers.

Bayview Foundations After-School Program serves over 75 youth from immigrant and refugee families each year. Its offered throughout the school year, free of charge, and is focused on providing high-quality academic support, visual and performing arts activities, and access to healthy snacks and wellness activities. Youth are from more than eight countries, with most speaking English as a second language and qualifying for free school lunch.

Photograph provided by Bayview Foundation

The organizations dedicated staff collaborate with Madison Metropolitan School District teachers to support youth in challenging the achievement gap.

Bayview Foundations food pantry takes donations of vegetables and other goods that are available for its residents during the first Monday of every month. The pantry is sponsored by the Community Action Coalition and Second Harvest Food Bank.

Alexis says the Bayview Foundation board is undergoing a strategic plan to identify a new staffing structure. Currently, the organization has 10 staff members: 2 maintenance, 2 full-time program staff, a full-time office manager, and the rest part-time front desk and after-school staff.

What makes Bayview so amazing and unique is that when it was founded there was this understanding that housing and support services went hand in hand. There was an awareness that immigrants and refugees needed support.

Alexis says Bayview Foundation has organized several committees made up of residents. The purpose of the committees is to make decisions regarding housing, programming, neighborhood development, and food access. Bayview Foundation is committed to ensuring its residents have a voice in the community. We are striving for residents to share their ideas and needs and to feel their voices must be heard.

Chelsey Dequaine works as director of social media strategy for designCraft Advertising and is a freelance writer.