Grant-astic! ‘Impact 100’ members hear from grateful nonprofits

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Current and prospective members of Indian River Impact 100 gathered at the Bethel Creek House to hear from representatives of three of the four most recent Community Partners, who had each received a $100,000 transformational grant this past spring. The Impact Day event, sponsored by Robin Lloyd & Associates, with member sponsor Cindy Galant, provided an opportunity for recipients to share information about the status of their programs and the impact of the grants on their organizations and the community.

The nonprofits – Crossover Mission, SafeSpace, Veterans Council of Indian River County and the Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy – cater to a vast array of clients, including disadvantaged youths, victims of domestic violence, and aging veterans who, having served our country, now need our support.

Prior to a panel discussion moderated by immediate past president Gladys LaForge, current president Tracy Sorzano introduced Vii McFall, a senior at Indian River Charter High School, who wowed attendees with her outstanding a capella performance of “I’m Here” from the musical “The Color Purple.”

“We are women who collectively impact the lives of individuals in our community through collaborative giving,” said Sorzano.

Impact 100 members contribute $1,100 annually; $100 toward administrative expenses and $1,000 pooled, with members voting in April to determine which finalists will receive that year’s $100,000 grants.

“Over the past 13 years, we’ve made grants totaling more than $5 million to support over 65 nonprofit programs in Indian River County. Our goal this year is to reach 500 members and award five $100,000 grants at our annual meeting in April.”

LaForge introduced the panel participants and gave a brief description of each project, noting that Youth Guidance and the Veterans Council were also 2018 Impact grant recipients.

Phil Barnes, Youth Guidance executive director, spoke about the Learning Center at Youth Guidance, where students ages 5 to 24 are receiving mentoring, life skills and vocational training in a vast array of trades, from cosmetology to mechanics. It builds on the 2018 grant for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) programs. All aim to break the cycle of poverty by preparing students for real-world, meaningful careers.

“The STEAM project developed out of a realization on our staff’s part that our kids aren’t really graduating high school with the skills they need to meet these jobs that are in demand,” said Barnes. This grant has enabled them to add clear pathways to meaningful careers in trades such as HVAC, welding, plumbing, carpentry and electric, where students will graduate with six professional certifications, and through free apprenticeship programs.

“We have already started building relationships with local businesses within the trades,” said Barnes. “These are careers that are in demand and are used very frequently. I can’t thank you enough for the difference you are making.” He noted that they hope to serve 250 students this year and bump it up to 300 or 350 next year.

Marley Butcher, Crossover Mission general manager, said the build-out of a Multi-Media Learning Center within the new Crossover Center for Achievement and Tutoring, a former citrus packing house, is well on its way. Their goal is to support and direct at-risk students through afterschool athletics and academic mentoring. While the build-out of the new facility continues, Butcher said they can now house administration, academic and athletic programs all in one building.

“We’re an organization that’s only eight years old, so for us to receive an Impact 100 grant was very profound for our organization. It’s really strengthened our presence in the community.

We’re very grateful for that,” said Butcher. Speaking of the first time the students saw the extensive facility being developed specifically for them, she said staff was touched by their emotion and excitement.

“Not a lot of them show emotion. These are tough, hard-exterior kids that we work with. You don’t expect 19-year-old boys to have tears in their eyes while they’re standing on the court,” said Butcher.

Terry Treat is program manager of the Veterans Helping Veterans program. This grant goes toward their Veteran Families Quality of Life program. It is an expansion of the 2018 Impact grant, which provided free home repair and improvement services solely to veterans, to now include surviving spouses and veterans living in homes owned by family members.

“There are over 17,000 veterans in Indian River County. If only 10 percent of them need our help, that’s 1,700. We get to about 50 or so a year,” said Treat.

“The stringent requirements that Impact 100 has regarding applying for grants, reporting and monitoring our results and our progress, fundamentally changed our organization. Our reporting is much more stringent, our oversight is much more onerous, our procedures are much sharper than they were before, because that first $100,000 helped a lot of veterans and we wanted to do it some more.” Like Butcher and Barnes, Treat said that receiving an Impact grant gave them more standing in the community and helped them to get funding from other sources.

Teresa Albizu, SafeSpace CEO, was unable to attend. The Domestic Violence Emergency Center renovation will provide a 19-bed emergency shelter in our county to victims of domestic violence. Women and their children will find safe shelter from abusers and receive support and education, ultimately helping them to create independent lives free from violence.

For more information or to become a member, visit impact100ir.com.

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