…joining charitable intentions with community needs
This year, the Community Foundation is making it possible for everyone to be a donor. The Foundation’s entire Annual Grant Cycle is now moving online, and your part starts tomorrow!
This summer, charitable groups and nonprofit organizations in the Greater Itasca Area submitted their needs (grant applications). For the last couple of weeks, Foundation staff have been putting the submitted applications together and getting them ready for you.
Starting tomorrow, October 1, everyone can go to the Community Foundation’s website (www.gracf.org) and see all the requests for need in the Greater Itasca Area. Just scroll though the programs, read about those that interest you, and decide if you want to provide support. If you find a program you want to support, it’s simply a click or two, and you can donate right there at the secure site.
“This is also a great way to start your children or grandchildren thinking and acting on giving back to their community. When we say everyone, we mean everyone. If you have a fund, you can give from your fund. If you have never given through the Community Foundation – now is your chance”, states Chris Fulton, Community Foundation Executive Director. “We want everyone to participate. As long as you are willing to give at least $5, you can donate. If you don’t want to donate, that’s fine too, but do go to the site and check out the programs and needs in our area.”
The Community Foundation’s tagline, or motto is “joining charitable intentions with community needs”, and that is exactly what they have done during their Annual Grant Cycle. In the past, when a charitable group or nonprofit organization submitted an application, the Community Foundation considered which fund criteria or donor intent was a good match to provide a grant. “One year, Second Harvest told us about how they wanted to provide more fresh food to people at the Grand Rapids Food Shelf. We have numerous donors who understand the harsh realities of food insecurity in our local area, so we joined that donor’s charitable intent with the need and found a donor who provided a grant for the Food Shelf to purchase a refrigerator,” says Sarah Copeland, the Foundation’s Director of Grants and Programs. “It never ceases to amaze me how fantastic our donors are – they are so interested in the health and well-being of our community. The good we are able to achieve throughout the Greater Itasca Area is due to local people who donate through the Community Foundation.”
According to Fulton, a bunch of little grants can have a big impact. “I remember when the Grand Rapids Farmers’ Market had first implemented their “Mighty Matching Dollars” program. Here you have local farmers who understand the importance of fresh food in a person’s diet. The Farmers’ Market found a way to double the value of a dollar that people spend using their EBT cards, so that purchasing fresh food was accessible and affordable to everyone. Because we have so many great donors who support this work at the Farmers’ Market, we had about eight small grants that together provided the amount the Farmers’ Market needed for the program,” says Fulton.
Over the last 20 years, the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation has invited nonprofit organizations to submit applications for the Annual Grant Cycle from July 15 – September 15. Fortunately, during this time, the Community Foundation’s ability to provide grants has grown. Along with the addition and growth of funds, caring and generous donors have provided grants from their funds to meet expanding community needs.
Everyone at the Community Foundation is excited about the new Annual Grant Cycle. “We understand this is the first year, and there can be confusion when things change, but we are all happy to take phone calls and answer questions. This new Annual Grant Cycle will work in a similar way to crowdsourcing. ‘Go to the “Grants and Getting Help’ tab here at our website and you’ll see the Annual Grant Cycle page. If you have any questions, just call us, and together, we can all figure it out,” says Fulton.
“There are about 60 different programs and projects who have requested help. It may take a bit of time to scroll through all the requests, but I think you will find some very interesting things that are going on in our community,” states Copeland. “We have everything from art to social justice.” There is a program called Outreach Dignity that provides basic clothing for men graduating from the correctional facility in Togo. Copeland continued, “Can you imagine being released and then going back to your community in an orange jumpsuit - and that’s your only clothing?”
Your part starts tomorrow! Check the Community Foundation’s website and Facebook page. Get to know some of the programs that are going on in our area. If you want to help – now is your chance.