About OFS

Our Vision: All youth ages 16-24 are assets in our community.

Our Mission: Operation Fresh Start provides disconnected youth a path to self-sufficiency.

A non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, Operation Fresh Start has provided comprehensive employment and training services to over 8,000 youth and adults in Dane County, Wisconsin since 1970.


Operation Fresh Start (OFS) provides a path forward for disconnected youth in Dane County, ages 16-24, through education, mentoring, and employment training. OFS leads youth to completing their high school degree (after having previously dropped out) and continuing on to higher education and/or self-sustaining employment. 

OFS is best known for its core Pathways program. Pathways helps young people (who have previously dropped out of high school), obtain their high school diploma and gain the skills to be successful in life. In addition to an alternative classroom setting, youth receive employment training and access to wrap-around case management services.

OFS’ chief training approach is to renovate or construct single family houses for sale to low and very-low income first-time homebuyers. In addition, we have added extensive conservation work (improving Dane County parks and lands) to the Pathways work platform. The housing and conservation sites are the vehicles for employment training and are at the center of a comprehensive program of educational and support services. Instruction in basic skills and attainment of a high school diploma, instruction in independent living skills, leadership development, counseling, pre-employment skills training, placement in a job or post-secondary education, and supportive follow-up are vital components of the program.

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In recent years, we have diversified our programming to serve more young people ages 16-24. New programs, such as Options, Strive and Graduate Crew help fulfill OFS’ mission of providing disconnected youth a path to self-sufficiency.

Now that you know more about who we are, head over to the Building Futures page to learn how our first ever capital campaign will double the number of youth we are able to serve each year.