Morgan County, Ind. – The basic necessities such as nutritious food and housing are resources the staff and board of the Community Foundation of Morgan County have seen an increased need for in recent years. In its fall grant cycle, the CFMC is partnering with nonprofits that seek to provide these critical resources. The foundation awarded five Impact Grants to Morgan County nonprofits totaling $37,700.
“We feel strongly that we need to help nonprofits provide funds that have an impact in our community,” said CFMC President Ed Kominowski. “Impact can be accomplished in many ways, but in the end, we must be able to tell our community ‘what difference do we make.’ That comes with funding dynamic programs that help people, but also move the needle in the lives of those they serve. We live in a county with many giving individuals, but also a county with many needs. CFMC is partnering with our community to make the lives of everyone better – in particular, those we may not know.”
While statistics vary, Kominowski says it is compelling that 15 to 18 percent of children in Morgan County live in poverty. And one grantee noted that the MSD of Martinsville reported as many as 450 homeless youths in their school system last year.
That grantee is WellSpring, Morgan County’s family shelter, which sees the needs of homeless youth and the struggles they face daily. WellSpring received a grant of $2,500.
“We realize the dilemma our local schools face, especially dealing with the vast array of needs presented by homeless students,” said Bob Goodrum, executive director of WellSpring. “Guidance counselors have increasing caseloads, more pressure is being placed on teachers to ‘teach to the test’ and social workers are consumed with the day-to-day needs of the student body. It is unrealistic to expect these hard-working professionals to affect a ‘180’ in the lives of students in only 180 days per year.”
Goodrum hopes to assist the schools with their Pathways to Prosperity Program, which provides educational assistance to homeless youth and families. The program will offer supplies for homework, a Homework Club, nutritious snacks and education in exercise and nutrition, financial literacy, ecology and civics. Older students will receive help with college and trade school visits and applications, scholarship applications, and SAT/ACT prep and testing.
Fresh Way Farm is a first-time grant recipient focusing on education to help combat the important issue of food and water shortage. By using less than 10 percent of the water required for conventional growing methods, aquaponics pairs the growing of fish with the growing of plants in a symbiotic relationship. Fish waste circulates through filters and provides nutrient-rich water for plants, which then help purify the water before it returns to the fish.
The $15,700 grant will allow students and staff to build an aquaponics lab at Mooresville High School; Green Township Elementary School; and on the Morgantown campus of the Indiana Agriculture and Technology School, an online and hands-on public school for 7th to 12th-grade students dedicated to agriculture and technology.
“These labs will educate students about a system that has helped to alleviate the problems of food deserts, provide job opportunities, and with a relatively low overhead and initial outlay for materials, also encourage entrepreneurship,” said Greg Marlett, an environmental educator with Morgan County Soil and Water Conservation District. “It’s a great way to introduce our youth in the county to cutting-edge programming and what the future of farming may look like. There aren’t many other counties doing something like this.”
Churches in Mission and Martinsville Youth Development Center are receiving grants for the second year in a row. Churches in Mission will use its $5,000 grant to provide individuals and families financial assistance for utility and rent. In the first 9 months of 2018, the mission has already provided a total of $52,000 to more than 300 households.
The Martinsville Youth Development Center received a $6,500 grant and will continue its Become a Better You program, working in conjunction with Bradford Woods, IU Health Morgan, the Strength School and MSD of Martinsville. The program will focus on self-esteem, communication, teamwork, nutrition, exercise and conflict resolution for at-risk students at Bell Intermediate and John R. Wooden Middle schools in Martinsville.
Gleaners Food Bank received a grant for the third year in a row to stock the Bulldog Blessings Pantry at Monrovia High School. The $8,000 grant will provide food for residents in Monrovia. Last year, the pantry served an average of 398 individuals monthly, including 200 youth.
Impact Grant funds are provided by private individuals and local businesses through charitable donations to the Community Foundation of Morgan County. The foundation matched each donation dollar-for-dollar. Although the grant cycle is over, the foundation is still accepting donations through the end of the year, or until their $40,000 goal is met.
“It’s not too late to donate,” Kominowski said. “Next year we will reintroduce our capacity grants, and any donations we receive through year-end will be matched and ear-marked for these monthly grant requests. Some grants may help with youth programming, emergency relief for families or to foster new efforts to have a larger impact on our community. CFMC wants to lead a new conversation on how to create an impact in our community through philanthropy and community leadership. We want all our donors to feel they have received a social return on their investment with us.”
More information on grant recipients and their outcomes will be featured on the CFMC’s website at CFMConline.org and on the Facebook page at Facebook.com/CFofMorganCounty. Interested individuals may also learn more or donate by calling 765-813-0003.