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$100K Grant to Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County to Support Local Students’ College, Career Success

A local program with a proven track record of helping area youth develop the skills, habits and experiences to be successful in their college and career journeys is getting an extra boost from a $100,000 grant. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County has been awarded one of Ascendium’s Good Neighbor Grants and is using the funds to support the operating costs of its Advancement via Individual Determination/Teens of Promise Program (AVID/TOPS).

AVID/TOPS, a partnership between the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County and the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), is a rigorous college and career preparatory program primarily serving students from low-income backgrounds, students of color and aspiring first-generation college students. Some of its offerings include academic support, college field trips, career exploration activities and internship opportunities. Almost 1,000 MMSD students participate in AVID/TOPS.

Ascendium’s grant will benefit students like Benjamin Davis, who participated in AVID/TOPS during his four years at Madison East High School. Through the program, Davis received tutoring services, visited organizations across Madison to learn more about the jobs they offer, participated in paid summer internships and toured college campuses. Davis is now a sophomore business major at Bryant & Stratton College with plans to transfer to Marquette University or the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee next year to pursue a career as a financial advisor.

“Receiving guidance on critical thinking, study methods and professional language really put me ahead of my peers. The college field trips were especially beneficial since, as a first-generation college student, you don’t know what you don’t know,” Davis said. “There were many people who helped me and with whom I connected as part of AVID/TOPS. For me, AVID/TOPS is more than just a program — it’s a family.”

“AVID/TOPS is making a difference in the lives of students by putting them on a path to realize their greatest potential,” Michael Johnson, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County, said. “We are able to do this through a robust program and dedicated staff who build impactful relationships with members to help position so many of them for success. This funding will allow us to maintain and grow the remarkable successes of AVID/TOPS. We are grateful to Ascendium for their support.” 

This grant is just one of 10 Good Neighbor Grants Ascendium awarded in the fall of 2022 for a total award amount of $1 million. The grants are unique in that they are entirely employee-driven. Ascendium employees nominate and vote for nonprofits that positively impact the communities where they live and work. The recipients use the funding to increase education and workforce training outcomes for learners from low-income backgrounds.

“We’re thrilled with our employees’ decision to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County and students like Benjamin with a Good Neighbor Grant,” Brett Lindquist, Ascendium’s vice president – strategic communications, said. “Being able to continue our partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County and play a small part in helping these students realize their dreams is incredibly rewarding.”

About Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County

Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County is a leader in youth development programs, working with local businesses, foundations and community programs to produce positive outcomes for more than 7,500 young people and their families. Our core program areas include character and leadership, health and wellness, education and career development, sports and recreation and the arts. To learn more, visit

About Ascendium

Ascendium Education Group is committed to making education and training beyond high school a reality for more people. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we fund initiatives across the U.S. that help learners from low-income backgrounds achieve upward mobility; provide student and employee success solutions to colleges and businesses; invest in education-focused innovations to improve learner outcomes; and provide information, tools and counseling to help millions of borrowers successfully repay their federal student loans. While we have many roles, we have one goal — elevating opportunity by creating a world where everyone can rise to their highest potential. To learn more, visit