From Your State Treasurer: A Look Back at 2021 & Working for Wisconsin into 2022

Wisconsin Office of the State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski

Dear Wisconsinites, 

It’s hard to believe that 2021 is already coming to a close. This year we have continued to battle with the immense challenges brought about by the pandemic, while working to ensure that an equitable recovery reaches all of Wisconsin’s working families. 

The Office of the State Treasurer has continued to be laser-focused on the economic issues that impact the everyday lives of Wisconsinites. Over the past year, we have: 

  • Launched Take Root Wisconsin, a statewide network dedicated to helping people buy, fix, and stay in their homes, and we are working with the Governor’s Office to deploy $92.7 million in mortgage and property tax assistance in 2022.
  • Developed innovative, cost-effective, and bipartisan solutions to tackle Wisconsin’s retirement security crisis, such as our 401KIDS proposal which would provide an investment account for every child born in Wisconsin.
  • Provided record funding disbursements of $39 million for books and technology in K-12 public school libraries and over $1 million for university scholarships and grants
  • Continued to be a key funding source for local communities for essential projects and purchases including roadwork, broadband expansion, solar panel installations, housing and commercial site redevelopment, fire and safety vehicles, and more. We also helped support the WI Paper Council in securing a federal planning grant through the Build Back Better Regional Challenge. 

Promoting the economic security of our people and our state continues to be the central mission of our office, and I’m proud to share the strides we’ve made this year in more detail below. As always, I remain honored to serve as your State Treasurer, and you can always reach me at

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2022,

Treasurer Godlewski signature

2021 End of Year Newsletter

Buy, Fix, & Stay: A More Sustainable Homeownership Model

State Treasurer Godlewski shares plan for homeownership

Many Wisconsinites have been financially impacted by the pandemic. Whether it’s loss of income due to unemployment or underemployment, or increased expenses, homeowners are at an increased risk of mortgage default, property tax delinquency, and potentially foreclosure. In June, our Task Force for Homeowners created a statewide network named Take Root Wisconsin,  dedicated to helping Wisconsinites buy, fix, and stay in their homes. The Take Root Wisconsin coalition made up of nonprofit leaders, realtors, housing experts, legal advocates, and state and local officials will continue to build a more sustainable model to improve homeownership across the state. Read more about this initiative in our Homeownership Task Force Report.

Wisconsin Help for Homeowners Logo

In partnership with Governor Ever’s Office, we’ve continued in our mission to help homeowners impacted by the pandemic with the development of the Wisconsin Help for Homeowners Program. Pending approval by the US Department of Treasury, the program intends to deploy $92.7 million in critical assistance for struggling homeowners for qualifying expenses including mortgage arrears, delinquent property taxes, and utility bills. The program will be administered by the Division of Energy, Housing, and Community Resources (DEHCR), in partnership with the Wisconsin Community Action Program (WISCAP), member agencies, the Office of the State Treasurer and Take Root Wisconsin. To learn more about the program or to be notified when assistance becomes available, please visit and complete the contact form.

Strengthening Retirement Security & Emergency Savings

After a lifetime of work, every Wisconsinite deserves to retire with financial security and peace of mind. However, Wisconsin is facing a retirement security crisis with a report projecting over 400,000 seniors will experience poverty and an additional $3.5 billion will need to be spent on public assistance programs if no action is taken. 

In March, we published our report for the Governor’s Retirement Security Task Force outlining five innovative, bipartisan, and cost-effective solutions to help us address this crisis: 

  1. Expand access to retirement savings through a simple, plug-and-play auto-IRA program that Wisconsin businesses of all sizes can offer to the nearly 1 million Wisconsinites who currently lack access. 
  2. Set our future generations up for success by providing every child born in Wisconsin with a target-date investment account to build long-term wealth and provide meaningful financial education. 
  3. Automate emergency savings to ensure that Wisconsin workers don’t need to tap retirement savings when the unexpected happens. 
  4. Incentivize participation in workplace retirement plans and encourage employers to utilize auto-enrollment to maximize participation.
  5. Develop an Interactive E-Commerce Portal to serve as a centralized, trusted source of information for retirement savings and other financial needs.
Wisconsin Saves Automatic Savings Initiative Logo

Beyond simply proposing solutions, our office joined in launching the statewide Wisconsin Saves Automatic Savings Initiative to empower Wisconsinites to establish emergency savings accounts through direct deposit from their paychecks. This first-of-its-kind pilot program is a public-private partnership being led by the Wisconsin State Treasurer’s Office, the WI Department of Financial Institutions, the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA), the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), and America Saves.

Here in Wisconsin, nearly half of individuals lack a rainy day fund to cover expenses for three months, in the case of sickness, job loss, or other unforeseen hardships. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the need for people to be prepared to weather emergencies that may threaten their financial security.

Employers can serve as a powerful source of information for workers and can have a positive impact on their financial lives. So far nearly 100 employers, representing approximately 8,000 employees, have signed up to participate in the Wisconsin Saves Initiative. The program provides free tools for supporting employees in setting up automatic deposits. Setting up split deposits through their employer or financial institution is an effective way for Wisconsin workers to ensure they’re setting money aside on a regular basis for emergencies. Even small amounts, saved automatically each pay period, can make a big difference.

I hope all of Wisconsin’s employers will join us in this effort. You can sign up to participate in the Wisconsin Saves Automatic Savings Initiative at

We have continued to work with partners to build support around these initiatives and look forward to sharing more exciting progress in 2022.

Investing in Our Schools and Communities

As the State Treasurer, I serve as the Chair of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), overseeing the financial performance of four trusts with assets that exceed $1.2 billion that support our public schools and universities, while also supporting vital investments in our communities. By updating our investment strategy and diversifying our assets, we have strategically managed these funds to produce historic-high returns that benefit students from kindergarten to college in all corners of Wisconsin. 

My office also served a supporting role for the Wisconsin Paper Council’s successful grant application for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. As a selected finalist from 529 initial applicants, the Wisconsin Paper Council and their coalition will receive $500,000 to continue project development on their proposal which will build a more resilient paper industry, bring new jobs and strengthen the local economies of 35 counties here in our state. The next phase of the EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Economic Development Challenge will provide up to $100 million per grantee to up to 30 regional coalitions.

Treasurer Godlewski visits Emerson Elementary in La Crosse and delivers library aid check

Record $39 million Common School Fund Distribution towards K-12 public schools — This year, we made another record-setting distribution of $39 million for books and technology in our public school libraries. Hear from our partners on what this money has meant for them this year: 

“State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski is helping our community address the needs of our city’s youngest residents,” said Mayor Katie Rosenberg. “The pandemic exacerbated challenges for many of our community’s students and I’m proud that she’s working to meet the changing needs of Wausau kids.”

"We are so thankful for Common School funds and what they do to support our school libraries," said School District of La Crosse Superintendent Dr. Aaron Engel. "Common School funds are the foundation upon which we have built a robust book collection for our students over the years. We have been able to use Common School funds to build a library collection that reflects our students' diverse identities and engages them in ways that lead to greater belonging in school. Our libraries, along with high-quality instruction, are crucial for developing lifelong readers and learners."

“The Stevens Point Area Public School District relies heavily on the generous funding from the Common School Fund to provide various materials for students in all of our schools,” said Superintendent Craig Gerlach. “During the pandemic, our district was able to purchase more digital book licenses as we saw the use of digital books increase by 400%. Our libraries also use the funding to provide STEM activities, such as robotics, coding, and maker spaces for K-6 students.”

Normal School Fund Beneficiary UWSP College of Natural Resources

State Treasurer Godlewski and State Rep. Katrina Shankland meeting with faculty and students from the UW Stevens Point College of Natural Resources, a beneficiary of the Normal School Fund.

Over $1 million Normal School Fund Distribution for UW System grants and scholarships — A record-breaking $1,025,000 from the BCPL Normal School Fund to help make college more affordable and provide grants to UW System programs. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the financial security of many Wisconsinites, it is even more important the BCPL provide this record distribution that will help students complete their education and reduce the need for student loans. Read our press release here

In its 150th year, the State Trust Fund Loan Program continues to serve as a critical resource for communities all over the state. In 2021, the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands approved nearly $68 million in financing for 118 projects and purchases. Projects included $70,000 for the city of Ashland to install solar panels, $5.5 million to promote economic development in downtown Racine and $400,000 to expand broadband access for the Town of Drammen in Eau Claire County

Solar Panel Array installed at Ashland Area Development Corporation

Solar panel array installed on the roof of the Ashland Area Development Corporation, financed by the BCPL State Trust Fund Loan Program.

Racine Groundbreaking at Belle City Square

State Treasurer Godlewski, Racine Mayor Cory Mason, and BCPL Executive Secretary Tom German at groundbreaking ceremony at Belle City Square.

Unclaimed Property: Do You Have Money Waiting?

Do you have money waiting for you? You might!

The State Treasurer's Office works to promote the return of unclaimed money and property, from forgotten rebates, savings accounts, and estates. To search for Unclaimed Property under your name or your relatives, click here, and you can check if you have any unclaimed property here or by calling (608) 264-4594.

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