The Canary Fund Awards Inaugural Grants to Changemakers in Northeast Wisconsin

by | Feb 21, 2020 | Seeds: Our Blog

The Canary Fund, in partnership with The Pollination Project, has awarded its first grants, and we at TPP are so thrilled by the heart and intention that went into choosing these remarkable grantees.

The Canary Fund, based in Northeast Wisconsin, was begun in 2019 as a way to honor the life and lifelong generosity of James Rivett of Green Bay, Wisconsin (1958-2018). This first round of grant recipients were announced in January acknowledging the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, an important annual event to Rivett, who was a Green Bay businessman, artist, and entrepreneur.

Six changemakers proposed projects working to address unmet needs in their communities in Northeast Wisconsin. These grants support individuals and community groups that aren’t necessarily recognized as registered or established organizations and offer funding to help take early-stage, grassroots projects to the next level. The funds help to provide belief and validation that their activities are important and valued.

Grant award recipients from this inaugural grant cycle included:

Debra Langacker ~ Community Circles of Support

“Community Circles of Support creates a partnership with people transitioning from prison or jail back into the community. Focusing on the future rather than the past, together we assess the individual’s strengths and struggles as they develop plans to become productive citizens. We offer positive social interaction and accountability. Using evidence-based practices, our work aids in changing criminal thinking, thereby promoting community safety and helping reduce the likelihood of re-offending and incarceration. The grant from The Pollination Project will help provide basic necessities – food, clothing, transportation, housing assistance – for those newly released or suffering from a break in employment. Giving support to a population that may never have had positive encouragement is providing dignity to the discouraged and hope for the disheartened.”

Diana Delbecchi ~ The United ReSisters

“We are the United ReSisters: A group of young women creating a more inclusive Green Bay community for all. The group was established in the Spring of 2017 as a way to create a space for young former refugee women. Our work intends to shine a light on the growing presence of Somali youth and be a source of inspiration and support to younger generations of Somali girls in our community. We take a three-pronged model to empowerment through focusing on community building through art, confidence- building activities, and creating access to higher education.
This work was inspired by our founder’s time working in refugee camps abroad. The grant from The Pollination Project is going to allow our important work to continue to serve newer generations of young Somali women. We are looking forward to creating a space once again for these women to gather, develop deep support systems, learn new skills, explore their interests, and have an advocate for their dreams.”

Emily Jacobson ~ Community-Based Doula Program

“Doulas are proven to have better birth outcomes, fewer maternal deaths, get access to the proper mental health professionals when needed, and help build better patient experiences in the hospital system. Unfortunately, at-risk populations do not have access to this type of support because it is not covered by public or private insurance. Through my work as a doula over the past decade, I’ve seen first-hand the need for a community based doula program that will help Women who lack natural support and education become empowered to be the best mothers possible. Our goal is to lower maternal and infant mortality rates, lower primary cesarean rates, connect others to the proper resources, and provide proper prenatal and postnatal support to families within the scope of professional doula support.
By working directly with crisis shelters we have identified this as a gap in services and will close that gap by providing training and services that are currently lacking and critically important to creating better outcomes for at-risk mothers.”

Anne Rakow-Weist ~ Minoka-Hill School Resiliency Shirt Design

“I am an art therapist who has worked in the Green Bay Public School System since 1986. I have served many students who come from backgrounds of trauma, autism and mental illness, all seeking ways to express themselves, make connections and heal. Transferring their own artwork, photos, designs or statements to a T-shirt (Me-shirt), that they will soon wear, helps to meet some of those needs. At every age level – K through 12th grade – they are so proud to wear their creations to school and out in the community!”

Deb Hutchison ~ Baird Creek Preservation Foundation Art & Awareness Project

“As someone who has spent countless hours in the Baird Creek Greenway with my family, I am now volunteering my time to help the Baird Creek Preservation Foundation create an awareness campaign to increase their presence in the community. As the organization that maintains the miles of trails, restores the habitat, and provides the environmental education to area students, it is imperative that members of the community know of the importance of this organization’s work. I have brought together a local artist to create a woodcut piece of art that depicts the flora and fauna found in the Greenway that will be used as a promotional piece to bring awareness to the Foundation. This piece will be sold to raise additional funds to continue the mission of the Foundation, as well as positioned in various locations in the greater Green Bay area to draw attention to the Foundation and its work.”

Kelly Nutty ~ Community Meditation Nights

“Isolation, disconnectedness, stress, and anxiety are states of being that do not discriminate by class, gender, race, age, or culture. We may feel these things in different ways depending on our life experiences. Everyone matters, and everyone can heal. Through this meditation project, we want to do our part to reduce isolation, disconnectedness, stress, and anxiety. Community Meditation Nights offer opportunities throughout the year for adults and families to come together for some time of reflection, connectedness, and peace. We do this for our neighbors, our community members. There are many ways to connect people to each other. Mental health counseling is one way, but not the only way. Our goal is to heal mind and spirit so we can help change lives, families, and communities. What better way to do that than to come together in meditation.”

TPP congratulates The Canary Fund and the incredible grantees!

The next granting cycle will begin in June 2020 with grant winners announced in August. For more information, visit

Written by Carolyn Ashworth