UniverCity Year Projects

UniverCity Year is a three-year partnership between UW-Madison and Wisconsin communities. In 2020 the Village of Waunakee was chosen as the newest UniverCity Year community participant.

In year one, the Village identifies projects that would benefit from UW-Madison expertise. UniverCity Year staff match those projects to UW-Madison faculty, staff, and graduate students. Below is a list of the proposed projects, all with a area of focus related to social justice, racial equity, inclusion and community civility.

In year two, UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students conduct research through courses, independent projects, and internships. The Village then receive big ideas and feasible recommendations that spark momentum towards a more sustainable, livable, and resilient future.

In year three, UniverCity Year staff support the Village with resources and tools to move projects from idea to implementation.

Learn more about UniverCity Year by watching this brief video or visiting the program website.

Proposal for UniverCity Year – 2020-2023

Village of Waunakee - In Pursuit of Social Justice, Racial Equity, Inclusion and Community Civility


  • Project One – Complete thorough review of Village Code of Ordinances and related policies to identify and recommend modifications that will serve to address aspects of systemic racism and discrimination within the Village’s governing structures and rules.
  • Project Two – Engage local K-12 students with project-based learning, to include mass-media production of “The More You Know” type videos on topics surrounding social justice, racial equity, inclusion, and civility.
  • Project Three – Work with the UW Native Nations Working Group / Nelson Institute to establish appropriate strategy and honorable programming to recognize and raise awareness of Native American culture and history in the Waunakee area as part of the Village’s 150th anniversary year in 2021.
  • Project Four – Evaluate and recommend adjustments to Village employment policies and hiring practices so that workforce diversity can be pursued and prioritized.
  • Project Five – Complete equity audit on Village communication methods (website, newsletters, social media, direct mailings, etc.).
  • Project Six – The Village convened a Housing Task Force which completed a study and set of 12 recommendations addressing disparities in the Waunakee housing sector (http://www.waunakee.com/826/Waunakee-Housing-Task-Force). Three of those recommendations could be pursued as part of Project Six (quoted from final report), including one addition project not contained in the report (6.d).
    • 6.a - It is recommended that the Village create an index/catalog of publicly available programs designed to provide assistance to homeowners and home buyers.
    • 6.b - It is recommended that the Village hold periodic seminars and outreach to provide first time home buyer guidance and increase awareness of publicly available programs designed to provide assistance to homeowners and home buyers.
    • 6.c - In recognition that senior housing is needed, the Task Force suggests further study focused on the needs and desires of senior citizens in the Village.
    • 6.d - Evaluate workforce housing needs of existing businesses in the Village. The goal is to understand the role that housing plays in Waunakee employers successfully recruiting and retaining employees.
  • Project Seven – Identify and quantify the prevalence of mental health conditions impacting the Waunakee population, and establish a strategy aimed at improving the lives of those who directly suffer from those impacts, as well as the families who suffer alongside their loved ones. This project will call attention to and raise awareness of how mental illness creates an aspect of diversity within our community, with the hope that public services and programs can evolve to better the lives of all who are impacted.