Goodman Community Center | Goodman Center announces new ‘living…

Goodman Center announces new ‘living wage,’ setting internal minimum wage of $20/hour

The center has adjusted the wages of all employees below director level in an effort to better support the people who support our community

July 18, 2023 |

The Goodman Community Center hosted a press conference on Tuesday where leaders from the organization announced a new internal minimum wage of $20 per hour. All current staff, excluding senior leadership (director and higher), saw a wage adjustment on their last paycheck, with some staff receiving up to an additional $5 per hour.

“We’ve been working on this project for more than a year, and I’m so proud that we’ve gotten to a point where we can start to better support the incredible people who support our community every day,” said Goodman CEO Letesha Nelson. “More than 40% of our staff were being paid less than a living wage, which is all too common in the nonprofit sector. These are folks who are working in essential roles that are prone to burnout. Their jobs are stressful enough – they shouldn’t have to worry about being able to pay their bills or buy groceries.”

When Nelson started working at the Goodman Center in January 2021, she was surprised to learn so many staff members needed to use the center’s food services, such as the pantry and the Thanksgiving Basket program. While at a Rotary Club meeting a few months later, she listened to former CEO of American Family Insurance, Jack Salzwedel, talk about AmFam’s efforts to increase base pay in their organization, and she couldn’t contain her excitement. “I want to do that!” she shouted, and the idea to bring a living wage to Goodman was born.

According to MIT’s living wage calculator, a ”living wage” in Dane County to support a single adult with no children is $18.02 per hour. When just one child is added to the mix, that number goes up to $39.44.

In addition to the new $20 per hour minimum, staff will also have access to financial literacy education, as well as guidance on how to take full advantage of Goodman’s exceptional benefits: an outstanding healthcare plan, 5+ weeks of paid time off, generous retirement matching, free childcare and more.

The Goodman Center has struggled to keep staff in direct service positions, particularly childcare teachers who are feeling the stressful after-effects of the pandemic while being paid low wages. The center is hopeful that this wage increase will help stabilize staffing in critical direct service and frontline positions, creating consistency that will benefit the children and community members Goodman serves.

“People are a nonprofit’s most valuable asset, and it’s time we start truly valuing our direct service and nonprofit workers,” said Lea Culver, whose foundation contributed a $500,000 gift to the initiative. “I have been a longtime supporter of the Goodman Center because I believe in its mission of strengthening lives and securing futures, which must include its staff.”

The center has made plans to ensure this shift to more competitive and compassionate wages is sustainable over time. For the next five years, to account for merit raises and promotions, Goodman will need an extra $2.75 million. Thanks to a handful of influential top funders – including the Leola Culver Family Foundation, PRL Keystone Foundation and the David & Nancy Walsh Family Foundation – who have joined the initiative early, the center has raised $2.025 million toward that goal and will need the community’s support to get the rest of the way.

“Goodman is so lucky to be in Madison, a community that values all people and sees the importance of an initiative like this,” said Nelson. “I’m calling on our neighbors to step up to help support the incredible work being done by our exceptional and dedicated staff. Our staff are the heart of our organization and without them, Goodman would just be a couple of buildings.”

Those interested in supporting this initiative can give online at Open jobs at Goodman can be found at

Goodman will host an Job Fair & Open House on Thursday, July 20, 4:30-7pm. There will be staff on hand to answer questions about a variety of departments, as well as tours of our buildings and programs. All are welcome to attend.

For more information about Living Wage Intitiative and to request an interview contact:

Amie Hoag

Director of Communications & Annual Giving
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