Civic Health of Wisconsin: Connectedness in Context

June 2020

In partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship and a coalition of nonpartisan Wisconsin organizations, the CommNS presents this inaugural report on Wisconsin’s civic health. The report is based on the 2019 Wisconsin Civic Health Index™, which measures residents’ civic engagement and community connectedness. These data are presented alongside Wisconsin demographic information, civics education standards, trends in local politics and news, and current civic health efforts.

Download the report

Statewide Needs Assessment for the Preschool Development Grant

December 2020

The Preschool Development Grant (PDG) was a one-year federal grant that supported a Wisconsin needs assessment and the completion of a strategic plan to improve early care and education (ECE) in 2020. The needs assessment examined ECE accessibility, affordability, and quality as well as workforce needs and challenges in a comprehensive, equity-focused way that prioritized Wisconsin’s most vulnerable, underserved, and rural populations.

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) contracted with the CommNS Co-Create team to support one piece of this needs assessment. Co-Create led a team of researchers in a qualitative study looking at the experiences and perceptions of primary caregivers and providers from five populations in Wisconsin: Hmong, Latinx, Black or African American, Indigenous or Tribal, and rural white.

Reports from this effort are available for download below. You can also visit DCF’s PDG Sandbox to read the full report.

Qualitative Interviews Report

Experiences and Needs of Underserved Groups

African American   Hmong  Latinx  Rural white  Tribal

Choosing the Right Structure for Organizations Participating in the Mission-Based Food Production Movement

July 2021

The Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies (CommNS) Executive Director Mary Beth Collins and Co-Create Graduate Research Assistant Allison Hellenbrand collaborated on this article which provides entity choice considerations for mission-based food production efforts. View a PDF of the full article by clicking the button below, or open the piece in Google documents here.

View the article

Nonprofit Resource Needs: WisNRG Town Hall on a Wisconsin Nonprofit Resource Inventory

January 2021

The Wisconsin Nonprofit Resources Group (WisNRG) hosted a virtual Town Hall to gather ideas and feedback on an inventory of nonprofit resources. WisNRG developed this inventory, recognizing that nonprofit organizations often rely on supports, training, and resources to meet their organizational needs. The convening drew forty-eight professionals from nonprofit organizations and affiliated sectors. Participants identified gaps in resources and supports for Wisconsin nonprofit organizations and shared their ideas for structuring an effective inventory.

Download the brief

COVID-19 Effect on the Wisconsin Nonprofit Sector: Community and Topic Area Briefs

June 2020

This series of community and topic area briefs is part of a statewide effort to study the response of nonprofit organizations to the COVID-19 pandemic, sponsored by the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management and the UW-Whitewater Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies. This study aims to provide real-time data to government officials, foundations, and other decision-makers about the current socio-economic conditions facing nonprofits, and the need for immediate and long-term support to ensure the ongoing provision of critical services throughout Wisconsin. The hope is that, by understanding the pandemic’s effect on the nonprofit sector, we can also better understand the recovery process required afterward.

Helen Bader Institute Reports

CommUnity Conversations on COVID-19 and the Third Sector

April 2020

These briefs summarize themes from a series of conversations that brought together nonprofit professionals and their allies to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on their work. This series was a partnership between the CommNS and UW-Extension Organizational and Leadership Development Program.

Youth-serving organizations

Community and basic needs organizations

Community and basic needs organizations


Global Partners

Environmental and Healthy Community Organizations

Preparing the Next Generation

Work Plan: Sustained Engagement for Racial Justice

Summer 2021

This resource was developed by Annette Miller of EQT By Design, as part of the CommNS Sustained Engagement for Racial Justice conversations. The work plan provides an outline for individuals and organizations to plan and track their progress on racial equity goals.

Access the Work Plan

Sustained Engagement for Racial Justice Video Series

Summer 2021

Our partners at the Morgridge Center for Public Service have worked to compile this video series which includes recordings of discussions from our Sustained Engagement for Racial Justice events held in summer 2020. These videos are community conversations, with key tips and inputs from community contributors, helping individuals and groups with their sustained action plans for racial justice.

Watch the video series

Sustained Engagement for Racial Justice: Ideas and Resources for Ongoing Inquiry and Action for Social Change

Summer 2020

This document highlights resources for sustained racial justice work, developed by CommNS staff and collaborators. Topics covered include learning, self care and community care, exerting influence in our spheres, supporting organizations and change agents, taking action, and sustaining engagement.

View the resource document