About Boardwalk Academy

Aligned with a community-wide commitment to strengthen diversity and inclusion efforts, United Way’s Boardwalk Academy builds the capacity of our community by developing and preparing Lived-Experience Experts – adults who have successfully navigated poverty-related, lived experiences – for leadership positions in our community.

The curriculum offered in this 9-week development series strengthens the interpersonal and professional communication skills of non-traditional community leaders, whose critical voices and perspectives are often absent from decision-making tables. By addressing the financial barriers that often prevent civic-minded, low-income adults from participating in activities that benefit our community, this incentivized initiative successfully attracts and motivates them to serve as confident, active and informed leaders across our Dane County community.

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

Our Spring 2024 Boardwalk Academy sessions will be held virtually on nine consecutive Thursday evenings, April 11 – June 6 (5:00-7:00 pm). A celebratory completion ceremony will be help during the final session of the cohort.

  • Eviction or Homelessness
  • Relying on a food pantry to feed your family
  • Unemployment or underemployment that led to an unstanve living situation
  • No access to quality, affordable childcare
  •  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 behalf of others?

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

Spring 2024 Session: Thursdays, April 11 - June 6​

Deadline to apply: Monday, March 18

Submission of Statement of Interest forms by 5:00 pm on Monday, March 18
guarantees advancement to the second round of the application process – Phone Interviews.

Enrollment in this virtual cohort requires that each participant:

(1) Have experienced challenges with poverty, as aligned with United Way’s Agenda for Change.

(2) Be familiar with the technology needed to participate in virtual sessions. Note: A limited number of tablets with Wi-Fi hotpots are available for applicants accepted into the Spring 2024 Boardwalk Academy cohort, for duration of the 9-week series.

(3) Be available to actively engage, distraction free – in all virtual sessions. This includes having childcare arranged for small children and confirming the ability to participate from a remote location that is free from background noise and any other distractions.

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 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.