Mission, Goals, Strategy, Objectives, Focus…

Rebuilding for Learning Steering Committee


Strengthen collaboration and improve communication between the City, School District and County in the area of family and youth services (as charged by our “parent” group”)


Ensure all children have the opportunity to succeed by addressing barriers students face that prevent them from coming into the classroom ready to learn.  (Addressing barriers faced by children or their parents related to mental health, substance abuse, lack of basic needs or disruptive and pre-criminal behavior.)


Create more integrated (“seamless”) systems across our agencies and within the following levels of intervention: prevention, early intervention and treatment.


  1. Maintain good communication and working relationships among system leaders.
  2. Plan an annual ”summit” that advances our integration strategy.
  3. Maintain a website that provides information on the Rebuilding for Learning Initiative.
  4. Identify either new or existing efforts that the RBL Steering Committee could support which advance the strategy of system integration.

Efforts Supported to Date

  • Better coordination of information sharing
  • Filling the gap of early intervention services for children at risk of abuse or neglect
  • Filling gap of early intervention for youth whose behavior disrupts the classroom and puts them at risk of entering the juvenile justice system

Possible Future Focus Areas

  • Trauma-informed care (coordinate Gundersen)
  • More countywide expansion of RBL (engaging other school districts as both planning and resource partners)
  • Early intervention for children facing mental health challenges (coordination with the behavioral health project)
  • Work on increasing knowledge of and engaging in RBL efforts within our agencies.

Meeting Focus:

Used as a monthly “face to face” communication forum to check in on existing projects and identify additional areas to advance goal of system integration.  “Heavy lifting” on specific projects or efforts done by subcommittees or related groups content arena groups

Steering Committee

“To successfully address complex issues, we must build on the positive momentum that’s started. Creating meaningful cross-sector partnerships, with an open mind, is the only path forward to ensuring that families, no matter their income, can move to this beautiful city to find better opportunities and upward social mobility.”

~Caroline (Neilsen) Gregerson, City of La Crosse Community Development Administrator

Rebuilding for Learning Steering Committee

As we discussed at our last RfL meeting, to reach intended outcomes, it is vital that our direction as a steering committee be defined by a thoughtfully engineered charge statement for both the Steering Committee and the Annual RfL Summit Planning Committee. Our written statements will simultaneously provide context and clearly communicate to committee members the parameters within which each group will function.

A communitywide effort from the heart

The City of La Crosse, La Crosse County and School District of La Crosse have led a community-wide collaboration to develop an innovative initiative to help ensure all students have an equal opportunity to succeed at school with a strong start toward a positive future.

Mission (Purpose/Objective)…

The mission of Rebuilding for Learning is to create a systemic approach where the City of La Crosse, La Crosse County, School District of La Crosse, and other youth and human service agencies can come together to identify barriers and work systematically to mitigate these barriers to best meet the needs of children and families.


We believe that by working together we can create a comprehensive learning supports system for prevention, early intervention, and systems of care. We believe that by working collaboratively with more resources concentrated on prevention, the need for intensive systems of care will be reduced over time.

Level of Authority

Report to Mayor of La Crosse, La Crosse County Administrator, and the Superintendent of the School District of La Crosse.

Communication Linkages

  • Regularly scheduled City/County/School District collaboration meetings.
  • Rebuilding for Learning website lacrossepartnersinlearning.org.
  • Various community organizations and committees.


Create connected systems for prevention, early intervention, and systems of care.

Systemic collaboration is essential to establish inter-program connections to ensure seamless intervention within each system and among systems for promoting healthy development and preventing problems, systems of early intervention, and systems of care. Such collaboration involves horizontal and vertical restructuring of programs and services:
(a) within jurisdictions, school districts, and community agencies (e.g., among departments, divisions, units, schools, clusters of schools); (b) between jurisdictions, school and community.[1]


Steering Committee convene 1st Friday of each month (7:30 am – 9:00 am).


Represented organizations dig deep in the sofa cushions to collect as much loose change as possible.

Current Membership:

Jennifer Rombalski [email protected]
Catherine Kolkmeier [email protected]
Karl Green [email protected]
Dawn Reinhart [email protected]
Bridget Todd-Robbins [email protected]
Jason Witt [email protected]
Regina Siegel [email protected]
Troy Harcey [email protected]

“We’re poised to continue to make significant strides in our journey, and it’s exciting to think that we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible.  Together we can – and will – ensure every child in La Crosse has the opportunity to succeed!”

~ Jason Witt, La Crosse County Human Services Director

[1] Howard S. Adelman and Linda Taylor, Rebuilding for Learning, pg. 40

City County Distict Logos

Charge Statement

The charge of the R4L Steering Committee will be to work collaboratively to assure a system in which all children and families can thrive within their school and community; this will allow for maximum development of all necessary intellectual, social, adn emotional skills.

Rebuilding for Learning Steering Committee

Charge: To serve as a big-picture point of communication among all City, County, School District, and community-level collaborative efforts that are each working to reduce the social and economic barriers to learning among La Crosse students.


Each member agency is responsible for reporting regularly on relevant developments among the programs within their purview that affect the whole. The intent of these reports is to make appropriate connections among the efforts that will advance their individual and collective missions.  In Collective Impact terms, the Steering Committee will act as the backbone organization and will ensure continuous communication among the agencies and programs that have committed to a common agenda through mutually reinforcing activities.  The Steering Committee will identify shared measurements for gauging the success of these activities and will leverage common networks such as the Family Policy Board to share developments and ideas with the professional community.


Common Agenda. Recommend that the Steering Committee select a common agenda for each year to focus communication around a topic, but one that is broad enough to impact all of the partners.


Steering Committee membership is fluid depending on the involvement of both partner agencies and the individuals representing them.  (Is there a path from each organization to the community/project/program/institution that needs to be connected? If not, find a rep.)


Consists of the following agencies and the programs they are best connected with (but do not necessarily represent their views):


School District

  • Administration
  • Principals/buildings
  • Teachers/Support Staff
  • Students


County, representing:

  • Human Services
    • La Crosse Family Collaborative
    • System of Care
    • Family Policy Board
    • Juvenile Justice
    • SQUAD
  • Health
    • Education program
    • Community Health Improvement Plan/Community Needs Assessment
    • Community Pathways Hub
    • Heroin Task Force



  • Planning
    • Housing
    • Urban/community development
  • Law enforcement
  • Mayor’s office
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Library
  • Other City offices



UW Extension (community development)

  • La Crosse Promise (specific to Karl)
  • Housing Studies (Karl)
  • Others?


Health Science Consortium

  • Alcohol coalition (until funding ends)
  • Behavioral health grant
  • Medical Centers (not representative but can make contacts)
  • Higher Education Institutions (ditto)
  • Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Coordinated Community Response (CCR)


What representation is missing, or are they represented currently?

  • Mental Health Coalition
  • Disability community
  • Cultural groups
  • Couleecap/Homelessness coalition




Together From the Start

The collaboration effort began back in July of 2005 at the recommendation of then School District of La Crosse Superintendent Gerald Kember. He had heard about a collaboration effort at the State School Board Convention with the City of Whitefish Bay and the Janesville School District and how that they have worked collaboratively with local government. At the recommendation of Superintendent Kember and County Administrator Steve O’Malley and Mayor Mark Johnsrud, the collaboration was formed. The purpose of the collaboration is to improve services to residents and save money for tax payers.

The first meeting was a working session to create a listing of existing/on-going collaborations and a list of “possibilities for new collaborations.” The existing collaborative efforts and possible collaborations were grouped into six areas and a subgroup was formed around these groupings.

The six sub-groups in the collaboration include: publicity/administration, joint purchasing, human resources, buildings and grounds, client services, and information services. Over these past five years, the various subgroups have collaborated on items such as joint purchasing of paper, fuel, bringing in national speakers on diversity and government efficiency, discussions on Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), high speed data collaborations, joint Earth Day activities, etc. The members of the collaboration include the Mayor Mathias Harter, School District of La Crosse Superintendent Randy Nelson and County Administrator Steve O’Malley. The sub-groups consist of the department heads and the administrators of the three La Crosse governmental entities.

The Client Services sub-group name morphed into Children and Family Services as it became clear that the real focus of the sub-group was on improving services and outcomes for children and families in the community and at school.

Below are videos from our Rebuilding for Learning Summits held in 2011 and 2012.




A Collaborative Resource for Our Community

The City of La Crosse, La Crosse County, and the School District of La Crosse are leading a community-wide initiative to help ensure all students have an equal opportunity to succeed at school. A strong start goes a long way toward a positive future. As part of this collaborative effort, this site is a tool designed to serve as a comprehensive resource for you, a valued member of our community.


The mission of Rebuilding for Learning is to create a systemic approach where City of La Crosse, La Crosse County, School District of La Crosse, and other youth and human service agencies can come together to identify barriers and work systematically to mitigate barriers to best meet the needs of children and families.


We believe that by working together we can create a comprehensive learning supports system for prevention, early intervention and systems of care.  We believe that by working collaboratively with more resources concentrated on prevention, the need for intensive systems of care will be reduced over time.


Rebuilding for Learning is an innovative initiative to bring education and community experts, information and resources together in one place for professionals, community members, parents and students.


The Community’s Family Collaborative

Mr. Steve O'Malley

Mr. Steve O’Malley

August is the 5th annual “Rebuilding for Learning” summit sponsored by the City of La Crosse, the La Crosse School District and La Crosse County.  La Crosse County is proud to be a strong partner with the School District and the City in this groundbreaking initiative.  This collaborative partnership has directly benefited many students and families in the La Crosse area through a variety of improvements to services offered by each organization.

A primary motivation behind “Rebuilding for Learning” is that preventative initiatives are more cost effective than establishing systems of care that people come to depend upon.  Unfortunately, some students within our school district begin exposure to a variety of county services very early in life.  It is our belief that through a continued collaborative effort between the County, City and School District we can reduce the overall demand on our Human Services system, while providing more efficient service delivery and improved outcomes for students and families.

The Community Family Collaborative is one illustration of this type of service integration.  La Crosse County Human Services Director Jason Witt, backed by a wonderful team of dedicated staff and a supportive County Board, has assembled the latest example of evidenced based pursuit of outcomes from the “Rebuilding for Learning” collaboration.

The La Crosse Area Family Collaborative will begin full service delivery in September, using a proactive prevention model to deliver human services to clients where they live; improving accessibility, efficiency and ultimately the level of trust on the part of students and families.  The La Crosse Area Family Collaborative will work with the School District’s teachers and social workers, along with City law enforcement to help identify and pro-actively engage families in better meeting their needs.  Through this method of service delivery, clients gain quicker access, but reduce their long-term service needs as active participants in the process.

The Family Collaborative is a new approach to community human services delivery for La Crosse County.  We look forward to this program’s full implementation in the upcoming months in continued partnership and collaboration with the City, School District and other community organizations.  Over these past five years, the “Rebuilding for Learning” effort has helped shepherd this initiative and other process improvements making a difference in the lives of children and their families in La Crosse.   Keep up the great work.  Together we truly make a difference.


2016 Rebuilding for Learning Summit VI

To register for the 2016 Rebuilding for Learning Summit, please sign up or log in by clicking on this link: rebuildingforlearningsummit2016.sched.org

Together We Can!

Mr. Jrason WIt

La Crosse County Human Services Director Mr. Jason Witt

Together We Can!

Connected systems for meeting the needs of all students.    Our local schools, city services, county programs and community agencies are filled with passionate professionals who have made serving children, youth and families their life’s mission.  What a tremendous impact these heroes have in our community every single day.  By supporting them through improving how our systems work together, just think of the even greater impact we can achieve!

Creating connected systems of care is a key strategy of La Crosse’s Rebuilding for Learning (RfL) effort.  The RfL initiative is directly inspired by the groundbreaking work of Howard Adelman and Linda Taylor.  Their work includes the useful visual linked here depicting ideal connected systems.  Adelman and Taylor note that the collaboration necessary to create connected systems and seamless interventions requires “horizontal and vertical restructuring of programs and services.”  That’s fancy parlance for saying we must change the status quo.  Over the years the children we serve have changed (for example, they tend to be more culturally and socioeconomically diverse, with more complex needs) and the research has evolved as to how we can best serve them.  To be successful, we must respond accordingly.

Each year since the inaugural RfL summit in 2011, we’ve come closer to closing service gaps and creating connected systems.  Thanks to the inspiring work led by Curt Teff from School District of La Crosse and Mandy Bisek from La Crosse County Juvenile Justice, decisions about when intervention from the criminal justice system is appropriate are becoming more coordinated and supports more integrated.  Advocacy by educators like Laura Huber coupled with financial support from the City of La Crosse, La Crosse Community Foundation and La Crosse County, has led to the creation of “neighborhood social workers” who can assist families before problems reach a critical level.

Speaking of filling service gaps, 2015 saw a host of new prevention initiatives1 aimed at assisting “at-risk youth.”  RfL has helped promote an environment where these new programs, far from being isolated efforts, are being coordinated in impressive ways.   This is all in addition to service restructuring underway within La Crosse County and the School District of La Crosse.

Sure, we have a long way to go in achieving our goals for connected and seamless systems of supports.  As we close the year, however, it’s appropriate to pause and appreciate how far we’ve come.  In 2016, we’re poised to continue to make significant strides in that journey, and it’s exciting to think that we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible.  Together we can and will ensure every child in La Crosse has the opportunity to succeed!

1Some examples of new programs and initiatives in 2015 include:  New YMCA Teen Center, Mental Health Professional added to the Boys and Girls Club, Host Home Program for Homeless Teens launched by Family and Children’s Center,  United Way Venture Grants targeted at Programs for “At Risk” Youth, YWCA Justice Circles program.



Rebuilding for Learning Summit Continues to Grow

Superintendent Randy Nelson

Superintendent Randy Nelson

On August 12, 2015, the School District of La Crosse, in partnership with La Crosse County and the City of La Crosse held its fifth annual Rebuilding for Learning Summit at the La Crosse Center. This year’s summit grew in size again with more than 230 participants. It’s an opportunity for leaders of the School District of La Crosse to work side-by-side with the many community leaders and organizations who supplement the work of our educators by providing community supports for children and families.

Our overall goal is to provide more than just a ‘safety net’, a hackneyed phrase we use many times to describe the general work that we do in the community to support students and their families. I contend, however,  that a ‘safety net’ is no long sufficient to meet the needs of our community’s children. When I think of a safety net, I visualize acrobatics of some sort…..or the circus and that daring young man on the flying trapeze….swinging from one bar to the next some thirty feet from the hard surface of the floor. Just above the floor, is a safety net which will cushion the fall. Knowing the safety net is there, the acrobat may take additional risks knowing that there is safety below.

In reality, the safety net does nothing more than break the fall to the floor. Through our rebuilding for learning efforts, we try to make the safety net more like a trampoline — something so tightly woven that when one falls on to it, they have the capacity to spring back up in to action at the top of the arena. The collaboration that we do together can tighten that fabric…….and it stands as the primary purpose for this collaborative summit.

In 2016, the summit will be expanded to include all of our teaching staff as well, creating an audience of more than 800. The extent to which we are able to tighten our fabric and make our supports more like a trampoline will directly impact the overall academic performance of our students and close gaps at the same time. Congratulations to the summit planning team for a job more than well done! The work is long and sometimes arduous, but it’s the right work — with our community and its families at the forefront.