Oshkosh Area United Way and Area Partners Receive Dream Up! Grant to Assist with Quality Child Care Challenges 

Oshkosh Area United Way (OAUW) and area partners recently received a $75,000 Project Growth Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building grant from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) and their partner, First Children’s Finance. This grant focuses on building childcare supply through a collaborative community approach. 

“We look forward to collaborating with local organizations to find innovative childcare solutions for our working families, early educators, and employers,” said Sue Luft, OAUW Impact and Outreach Specialist. “Leveraging our diverse partnerships to address the gaps in childcare is crucial to the health and wellbeing of the community.” 

The grant will help address the childcare challenges Oshkosh and the surrounding area are facing and the impact it has had on our local workforce. 

“Recruiting workforce to live and work in the area is difficult with the lack of available childcare,” states Tricia Rathermel, the President and CEO of Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation. “Making childcare accessible is a start to getting working-aged adults back in the workforce.”  

Out of 39 applicants, OAUW and its partners are one of twenty-eight cross-sector teams chosen to receive strategic planning support and $75,000 in grant funding to evaluate, plan, sustain, and expand existing childcare, and support new childcare programs. 

“We have seen in various communities across the state that when business, economic development, early learning, and other community partners come together and innovate, we all benefit,” said DCF Secretary Emilie Amundson. “These grants are helping us kickstart and build those partnerships, as well as find innovative and sustainable childcare solutions that can be modeled in communities and businesses across the state.” 

The team will begin the strategic planning process this Fall. The core team includes: 

  • Sue Luft, Impact and Outreach Specialist, OAUW and Dream Up! Team Lead 
  • Kelly Matthews, WEESSEN Co-Director, Wisconsin Early Childhood Association 
  • Nikki Dobberstein, Director, Wee Wisdom Child Care Center 
  • Tracy Gehrke, Public Health Nurse, Winnebago County Health Department 
  • Amy Reese, Marketing and Event Specialist, OAUW 
  • Tricia Rathermel, President & CEO, Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation 
  • Rob Kleman, Senior Vice President, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce 
  • Cierra Cramer, Director, Chiemsee Castle Day Care 
  • Judy Olson, Executive Director, Child Care Resource and Referral
  • Heidi Keating, Public Health Planner, Winnebago County Health Department. 


Oshkosh Area United Way