A CSRA organization whose mission is to support non-profit groups to fund their ongoing work announced grant awards to dozens of programs during a ceremony on Friday.
“It is an endowed fund primarily contributed to by the Masters Tournament,” explained Community Foundation President and CEO, Shell Berry. “Each year, we go through a process starting in the mid-summer. Over 120 applications were made to the Community Foundation. Today we are going to award 46 organizations up to $15,000 each for a total of over $638,000.”
Berry said the applicants cover a broad cross-section of the arts, health, education, environment, and services to people. The non-government organizations (NGOs) are in the Foundation’s coverage area of Richmond, Columbia, Burke, and McDuffie counties in Georgia, along with Aiken and Edgefield Counties in South Carolina.
The Foundation money cannot be used to fund capital campaigns or a marketing campaign. The funds must be used exclusively by the NGOs to cover the costs of their programs and operations.
The list of NGOs includes many familiar names, such as Hope House, the RECing Crew, and the Jessye Norman School of the Arts. But each year, the tradition includes several new organizations, and NGOs that have never received funds in the past.
One of those is Murphy-Harpst Children’s Centers, Inc. It began 100 years ago in Cedartown, GA to provide a safe and nurturing environment for severely neglected and abused youth. This year, the program set up homes in Augusta, one in Olde Town, the other in Harrisburg, to provide housing to youth in crisis.
“The situation across Georgia is dire. We’re in a state of emergency,” said Scott Merritt, President and CEO of the organization. “We’ve got more and more children entering into state custody and presenting with more and more severe emotional behavioral disorders. Georgia spent about $84 million last year hoteling youth. We have come into this area responding to that particular urgent need to pull children out of hotels and bring them into a family home setting with just four children.”
Another first-time recipient has been providing service and support for five years to individuals fighting neurologic conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Multiple Sclerosis.
“We do this by creating specialized programs that allow them to meet the needs of where their diagnosis is,” explained Danielle Williams, Executive of Day One Fitness in Beech Island, SC. “We do this with very specialized programs like high-intensity non-contact boxing. They’re not in the ring. They’re not hitting each other. It’s very safe, but it’s actually proven to be number one for agility and balancing, strength, and everything like that. We also have programs for manual dexterity and stroke recovery. So, this is going to allow us to continue to offer the 23 classes that we do a week.”
Williams said this, combined with the building they were able to purchase and dedicate earlier this year, will allow them to add fitness professionals to the program.
In addition to the more than $638,000 distributed among the 46 NGOs, the Community Foundation also provided another $280,000 for organizations involved in the Foundation’s Literacy Initiative. This is the fifth year of that program.
“We are dedicating to 10 nonprofits that are wrapping themselves around, meaning they’re providing a variety of wraparound services to the families at Lamar Milledge Elementary and Hornsby Elementary,” said Berry. “The goal is to increase their reading literacy scores. And in our four years behind us, the data is showing that it has had a remarkable impact on these schools.”
The Community Foundation began the grant program in 1997. Since then, more than $12.9 million has been distributed.
Every organization thanked the Community Foundation for believing in their mission to serve people, including Joely Leguizamon, Director of Catholic Charities of South Carolina, Inc.
“Thank you so much for the Community Foundation,” she said. “For believing in our programs, in what we do, and trusting us with the money that they’ve given us, that we’re going to do the right thing for the community.”