Over the last seven years, the Community Foundation has distributed well over $100,000 in grant and matching fund monies to the City of Fort Atkinson, WI to help add over 500 large new trees to our city’s terraces and parks.
It started out small – just a $3,500 matching grant to the 2015 Project Lead Class to help with their project of replacing ash trees in Ralph Park that had been damaged by the emerald borer infestation.
The community loved the project, supporting it so much that our grant money wasn’t even needed. Fired up by their project’s success, Project Lead members asked if they could build on what they started and direct their unused grant money to the City to replace the ash trees in Rock River Park around the Aquatic Center. Then, at the end of 2016 the City got into the action and applied to the Foundation for a grant to tackle the ash tree problem on a city-wide basis. In response, we awarded the City a $50,000 matching grant, awarding one dollar from our Mary Hoard Fund for every dollar that was raised publicly for the project, up to $50,000. We made the funds available as they were matched which allowed the City to know exactly how much they could spend to purchase a wide variety of large new trees each year.
The Fort Atkinson Beatification Council took on the job of steadily raising the matching funds and depositing them into our Fort Tree Fund. Thanks to their hard work and many generous donors, our community was able to leverage the full amount of the grant in the service of adding trees to our urban landscape. This week we will be making the final payment on our original grant – this one for the 52 large trees planted around town this spring.
This effort to provide a healthy urban forest – fostering public health, natural habitats, and community pride - was brought to you by all donors to the Tree Fund; Project Lead Class of 2015 who got the ball rolling; the Beautification Council for all the fundraising; Dept of Public Works staff who led the tree planting efforts; and Fort Atkinson FFA , the Fort Atkinson Wisconservation Club, and Crossroads Alternative School for all helping with the planting.
Pictured is Don Williams (in red), who with his wife Barbara was a major donor to the Tree Fund, helping Chris Wiesmann of DPW and three Fort FFA students, plant one of our trees along Endl Boulevard.