BY MOLLY BRUSH
Thanks to the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County and the Smithville Charitable Foundation, more than a dozen local organizations have received grant funding to support their efforts to create positive change in the community.
This is the sixth consecutive year the two foundations have jointly funded Community Impact Grants, which support programs offering solutions to pressing issues in Bloomington and Monroe County. Fourteen grants totaling more than $325,000 were awarded to area nonprofit organizations and schools in January.
For this funding cycle, the Community Foundation gave priority to proposals focusing on youth empowerment. Of the 14 funded programs, 11 involve efforts to prepare young people for the future and help them achieve their full potential.
“We recognized that if we’re going to make any sort of change long-term, we need to start with young people,” says Tina Peterson, president and CEO of the Community Foundation.
Several Community Impact Grants will fund new initiatives. The Ohio River Foundation received a grant to establish a work-study program in which high school students will restore and protect habitats in the Hoosier National Forest. Another new program, Bloomington Hospital Foundation’s Bloom 360°, will help infants get a healthy start through prenatal and postpartum care. And a grant awarded to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington will allow the organization to launch a career exploration program for club members.
Other Community Impact Grants will strengthen existing programs, including the Bloomington Playwrights Project’s youth programs, and after-school programming at Rhino’s Youth Center. A collaboration between Girls Inc. and Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Indiana will expand the Girls Inc. mentoring program, matching 50 girls with Big Sisters.
The Community Foundation received more than 50 applications for the 2017 Community Impact Grants. The proposals were reviewed by a community-based evaluation team composed of Community Foundation board members and community leaders, which selected the 14 recipients.
The next funding cycle is expected to begin in fall 2017. Though funding priorities for the Community Impact Grants change from year to year, the Community Foundation is committed to supporting innovative, transformative initiatives that have the potential for significant long-term impact on the community.
“We’re thinking about making an impact today, but preparing this community for success forever,” Peterson says.