Boardwalk Academy

Get Involved | Have Your Voice Heard | Make A Difference

Get Involved | Have Your Voice Heard | Make A Difference

In partnership with


The application process is now open for the Fall 2021 Session.

Fall Session: September 7 - November 2, 2021

Deadline for Statements of Interest for our Fall 2021 cohort is 5:00 pm on Friday, August 20, 2021.

Please Note: Submission of Statement of Interest forms by 5:00 pm on Friday, August 13 – guarantees advancement to the second round of the application process – Phone Interviews.

The application process is closed for the Fall 2021 Session.

Next Session: April – June, 2022

Are you an adult (18+) who has worked your way through financial challenges like any of the following?

Eviction or Homelessness       Relying on a food pantry to feed your family
Unemployment or underemployment that led to an unstable living situation       No access to quality, affordable childcare

Are you interested in using your experiences to help make decisions regarding local social support services?

Are you a natural problem solver?
Are you trusted and respected by your friends and neighbors because you keep everyone informed and inspired?
Are you a leader in your family or circle of friends?
Do you voluntarily connect people in your circles to resources?
Do you often speak on the behalf of others?

If so, you may be a perfect fit for Boardwalk Academy! 

About Boardwalk Academy

Fall 2021 Virtual Boardwalk Academy Sessions will be hosted on Zoom
on nine (9) consecutive Tuesday evenings September 7 – November 2, 5:00 – 7:00 pm.

United Way’s Boardwalk Academy is a 9-week personal and professional development series created to support the community leadership desires of adults who have successfully navigated poverty-related, lived experiences – as aligned with United Way’s Agenda for Change (Education, Income and Health). This series is designed to develop and strengthen the professional and interpersonal skills for members of our community to serve as active and informed leaders of board of directors, or in other leadership positions.

Stipends of $25/hour may be available to participants. The application process is not included as part of the stipend process.

Boardwalk Academy sessions are currently held virtually. Typically, sessions are held at the Anderson United Way Center located at 2059 Atwood Avenue in Madison, Wisconsin. Each cohort runs for nine consecutive Tuesday evenings from 5:00 – 7:00 pm. A celebratory completion ceremony is held during the final session of each cohort.

Our Purpose

Boardwalk Academy is a key strategy in support of United Way of Dane County’s commitment to engage and involve diverse communities – especially those that are racially and ethnically diverse – in decision-making, leadership, and action to achieve equitable outcomes in Education, Income and Health. Through this program we:

Strengthen community capacity by offering barrier-free personal/professional development opportunities to members of a specific target audience, those having expressed an interest or demonstrated the potential to serve as in/formal community leaders.

Strengthen community capacity by supporting the placement of non-traditional leaders – those with the critical voices and perspectives that are commonly absent from decision-making tables – into volunteer and paid leadership positions across our community.

Support the collective commitment of organizations (businesses, public entities and nonprofit organizations) in our strategic efforts to strengthen diversity and inclusion initiatives.

2020 Completion/Graduation Rate: 11 (100%)
Post-Graduation placement in paid positions: 3 (27%)
Post-Graduation placement in volunteer positions: 11 (100%)

Through United Way’s Boardwalk Academy, I learned the power of voice and the importance of adjusting my tone and energy - to deliver messages that are more welcoming to others, and more aligned with my true intent.
- Brandice Hatcher, Spring 2020 Boardwalk Participant
#UnitedWayBoardwalk Academy meant the world to me. I learned how to actually make a real difference for the people in my community.
- Shyelle Aikens, 2020 Spring Boardwalk Academy Participant
Through this experience I realized that my community needs me. Boardwalk inspired me to get involved, and to continue on my journey of becoming the informed and active community leaders that I hope to become.
- Sandra Zintzun, Spring 2020 Boardwalk Participant
I feel more empowered to speak and share my story to help others understand the hardships I have experienced. I now know that experiencing hardships doesn’t make me a weak person.
- Mary Boone, 2020 Spring Boardwalk Academy Participant
I am often asked to share my story, but I would always hesitate because I didn’t feel prepared. #UnitedWayBoardwalk helped me really look back over my life and see all the hardships I have overcome and the many successes I have achieved. United Way’s Boardwalk Academy was the experience I had been looking for!
- Lolita Phillips, 2020 Spring Boardwalk Academy Participant
#UnitedWayBoardwalk Academy helped me be more confident in group discussions and helped me realize the importance of hearing other people’s perspectives of their lives and challenges. I am also much more open to deeper conversations. I have never been so open and free.
- Josezette Bridges, 2020 Spring Boardwalk Academy Participant
#UnitedWayBoardwalk Academy means a lot to me because I plan to do some really great things, and the training helped me sharpen the skills I need to make those things happen!
- Johnnie Walton, 2020 Spring Boardwalk Academy Participant
Through Boardwalk, I realized the value of the lessons I learned through the challenges I experienced in life. I also learned the Power of My Voice, the importance of speaking up, and the need to represent the voices and stories of those who cannot or are not invited to speak for themselves.
- Chakita Dunlap, 2020 Spring Boardwalk Academy Participant
The training through Boardwalk Academy has empowered me. The interest and appreciation I felt while sharing my story helped me realize the importance of diverse backgrounds. The personal and professional development I gained through this program has increased my confidence and will enable me to take a more active role within my community.
- Chee Lor, 2020 Spring Boardwalk Academy Participant

What we're up to

Completion ceremony

copy describing graduation and other things, link below to flikr album

virtual learning

maybe a quick story about how this year's class was done virtually, and how UWDC strives at all times to make participants safe

Stipend story

Explain stipend and why- this is an important thing to talk about.