Grant Application

In our pilot phase the program, courses and grants are only available for families currently enrolled in One City Schools, school alumni, and school staff. Families who have completed both education courses and have qualified for a mortgage can apply for the down payment grant.

Families selected for the grant will receive $18,000 to put toward the purchase of an owner-occupied single family, condo, or duplex.


To be eligible to apply for a grant, families must:

  • Be enrolled in, alumni of, or current staff at One City Schools (of any race or ethnicity)
  • Be a first-time homebuyer, defined as: not owning property in the past 3 years OR are a single parent with a dependent child
  • Have successfully complete both courses: ‘Wealth Building’ and ‘Homeownership’
  • Be ready to purchase an owner-occupied single-family home, condo or duplex


The following items are discussed in OWN IT courses and are required with an application:

  • Certificates of completion for the Wealth Building and Homeownership course (provided by OWN IT)
  • Completed mortgage loan application
  • Completed, signed and notarized OWN IT Borrower Affidavit
  • Pre-approval letter from a lender dated no more than 30 days prior to OWN IT application
  • Copy of Buyer Agency Agreement including Realtor contact information


The next grant application opportunities will be in February 2024 and July 2024. No pre-awards are offered. Dates for upcoming application periods are:

  • Opens February 2, 2024 and closes on February 20, 2024 with awards announced February 23, 2024
  • Opens July 1, 2024 and closes on July 16, 2024 with awards announced July 26, 2024

Application documents and specific instructions are provided directly to everyone who has successfully completed both education courses.

There is no guarantee that applications will be approved. All applicants are subject to review and grants are dependent on the availability of funds. If there are more applicants than funds available, eligible applicants will be placed in a pool and a lottery will be conducted to determine recipients.

Download our Grant Application Checklist and Information Sheet for Borrowers (pdf).

Common Questions

Am I guaranteed to receive a down payment grant if I complete the two courses?

No, your application for down payment funds still needs to be reviewed and approved. Grant availability is based on the total amount of funds available. If there are more applicants than funds, funds will be made available via a lottery system. Eligible applicants will be placed in a pool and a lottery will be conducted to identify the awardees.

How much down payment assistance is available?

The down payment grants are $18,000 per household.

When can I apply for a down payment grant?

You may apply for a down payment grant once you complete the Wealth Building course and the subsequent Homeownership course. Please email for upcoming course dates. There are two grant application periods per year.

Is there an income requirement to qualify for the funds?

No. There are no requirements (or caps) to assets or income to qualify for the grant. Even high-income earners may not have enough down payment funds to purchase a home.

What if I already own a home?

You can take the free classes but to qualify for the $18,000 grant, you must be a first-time homebuyer, defined as not having owned a home in the past three years, or you must be a single parent with a dependent child.

Do I have to use the funds to purchase a home?

Yes, the funds must initially be used to buy an owner-occupied single family home or duplex.

Do I have to pay back the down payment funds or are there other restrictions?

No, you do not have to repay any part of the $18,000. Once you purchase a property, the down payment and the equity it represents are yours.

Can I use this grant with an FHA loan?

No, unfortunately, the FHA loan does not allow for community grants.

What happens if I receive a down payment grant and I decide I’m not ready to buy a home?

Once you are awarded the grant, the funds will be earmarked in your name for nine months. If you are not able to purchase a property in that time frame, the funds will be returned to the general pool. You may apply for a down payment grant in the future.

Do I have to buy a home in the City of Madison?

No. You can buy a home anywhere in Wisconsin. There are no restrictions to location, sales price, or additional inspections, and there is no payback of the grant.

Do I have to use an OWN IT-approved agent or loan/mortgage company?

No. You can choose who you want to work with and you can choose the loan product you want, however, be aware that FHA loans have not approved the OWN IT grant. You can stack other down payment programs with the OWN IT grant. We have a network of real estate professionals who have committed to be OWN IT Ambassadors. If you choose to work with someone who is not an Ambassador, please introduce them to the opportunity of becoming one.

If you have additional questions, contact the OWN IT team at