News & Media

Kelly Ryan Blog: Yes! We have an ‘Agenda’.

Tue. Dec 30, 2014

In recent weeks and with increasing frequency, I’ve heard “You [Incourage] have an agenda.” Sometimes stated directly, sometimes indirectly and most frequently in reference to the Tribune Building project. To affect the magnitude of social change necessary needed in our communities, I say, “Absolutely.  Yes! We have an ‘agenda’.” And over the past decade, this ‘agenda’ has become crystal clear.

Incourage’s vision is of a community that works well for all people. Not just a select few. Our ‘agenda’ is to ensure residents have access to the tools, knowledge and support necessary to live a life with meaning and dignity.  To have access to opportunity regardless of past experiences, ideology, or ‘station in life’ in order to shape the future – our shared future – and a new economy. This means every person has the opportunity, ability (and responsibility) to participate, contribute solutions, and make decisions.

We do not accept ‘business as usual’. The time has changed and a business as usual approach – one where entitlement is accepted, operations go unexamined, and traditional gifts are distributed paternalistically – no longer works here.

Many south Wood County area residents have worked hard to find their voice, and have enjoyed sharing it with others for common good. And each day, more residents join in the movement. Incourage is committed to supporting this positive momentum. To continue investing in our neighbors and this place.

As we close 2014, I invite you to learn more about our accomplishments this past year. Visit IncourageCF.org to see Team Incourage and residents in action, working together, to shape a new economy and a community that works well for all.

Looking ahead to 2015, I offer you a glimpse at three items we’re working on for the new year:

  • Tribune Building Project – A social enterprise, construction will commence and entrepreneurial opportunities will be introduced to the space this year. Incourage is committed to investing in the people who will inhabit the space as much as the functional space needed for production of their goods and services, thereby growing both human talent and our economy simultaneously.
  • Igniting Networks – Connecting individuals, businesses and organizations for community benefit is something we’ve successfully accomplished through the Tribune Building Project in 2014. This coming year, expect to see expanded efforts to deepen these connections, while we work to ignite new networks. The next opportunity to engage is January 27. Contact us to learn more and RSVP.
  • Operating Model – We’ve committed to align every dollar that comes in the door to achieving the greatest impact in our community that will advance our vision.  This means changing the way we think about investments, grantmaking and vendor choice.  It also means rethinking how we align and leverage our nonmonetary assets.  This operating model will be the evolution of our intentional work thus far. To help us accelerate our vision, we have the good fortune of partnering with the FB Heron Foundation (fbheron.org) to engage Next Street (NextStreet.com) in developing the new operating model.

Incourage is a values-based organization. We value equity, inclusion and opportunity. As a community, we shouldn’t settle for anything less than authentic conversations about inequity. Because, every person in this place matters to us. What is important to you? Does ‘a community that works well for all people’ resonate with you? Join us.

In 2015, live Incourage. You’ll find us doing the same – as we have for the past 20 years. Wishing you health and every happiness in this New Year!


  • Press Contact

    [email protected] | 715.423.3863
  • About Incourage

    Established in rural Wisconsin in 1994 to serve the changing needs of the south Wood County area, Incourage has become a nationally-recognized leader in place-based philanthropy and community development. Guided by values of equity, opportunity, and shared stewardship, Incourage envisions a community that works well for all people. One physical manifestation of this vision is the redevelopment of the Tribune building, which demonstrates Incourage’s user-centered approach to growing a strong and inclusive local economy.