From Community Connection to Children’s Futures

By Nikki Kallio | Photography by Hillary Schave

In 2021, Becky Steinhoff stepped down after 30 years as Goodman Community Center’s executive director. When she started with the organization, they had two full-time employees and one part-time staffer. When she left, they had 100. The community center serves people in the Madison area with event and meeting spaces, a food pantry, meals and activities for older adults, and programming for children and youth.

Steinhoff was ready for another challenge. She shifted her talents to philanthropy, leading the PRL Keystone Foundation, a Madison nonprofit that promotes equity for women and children through focused initiatives and grants to area nonprofits. PRL also hosts pre-college and mentoring programs.

“[At Goodman] I got to work with amazing boards and staff and people who were visionary and allowed us to take  risks,” says Steinhoff. “Now I’m working for a group of people who are doing the same thing in a different setting. So I feel really blessed in my work, and really lucky that I’ve had these opportunities.”

She also spends part of her time working with BT Farms on Madison’s far East Side, which aims to build a sustainable housing community with agriculture and wetland restoration at its center.

“It’s an absolutely beautiful piece of land and potential is definitely there,” Steinhoff says. The fledgling organization is currently giving people access to garden or farmland from a small plot up to several acres as it works on establishing infrastructure.

Steinhoff’s roles are connected by a desire to eliminate income disparities. “I think we underestimate how the constant stress of poverty on children and families … can be debilitating,” she says. One of PRL Keystone’s efforts is a robust pre-college and college scholarship program that starts in eighth grade. “Seeing those projects flourish, it’s certainly a rewarding thing … the kids are amazing, and watching them grow and change is inspirational.”

The health and wellbeing of families is a concern that transcends political boundaries, she says. “There’s nobody who doesn’t believe that kids need a good foundation. If we’re not addressing the things that create barriers in kids’ and families’ lives, then I believe it undermines their academics.”

Steinhoff, who became familiar with PRL Keystone and BT Farms while working at Goodman, says it’s a fitting “second chapter” to work with both organizations before she retires, she says. “This is an opportunity to still continue to do good work and be engaged in the community in a way that’s important to me,” she says.

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