The Community Foundation awards 46 grants at Central Park ceremony

The Community Foundation awards 46 grants at Centr
Douglass Community Services youth services director Jared Moore (left) stands next to Community Foundation board chairwoman Lydia Ahrens after being awarded a grant at a ceremony in Hannibal's Central Park on Thursday.
Mike Thomas/Courier-Post
By Hannibal Courier-Post
Posted: Aug. 13, 2020 4:42 pm Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 4:44 pm

HANNIBAL | The Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri awarded $136,554 worth of grants to 46 different non-profit organizations in the 12-county area it serves across Missouri and Illinois on Thursday morning at the Central Park gazebo in Hannibal.

Funding for the Community Foundation's grants are made from charitable endowment funds, investments made off original donations and then dispersed to non-profit groups in the area.

“It's a wonderful way to root assets here in our region,” said Community Foundation CEO Catherine Bocke Meckes. “What we see a lot is people grow up here … and a lot of times people move away and with that, their wealth goes. When people start a charitable endowment fund, it ensures that there will be funds here for the people, projects and communities that they love.”

Non-profit organizations will submit an application for funding by the June deadline, explaining what their needs are and what type of programs they offer. Then a volunteer grant committee will review the applications and match them up with the appropriate grant.

Types of grants available include unrestricted endowments that enable the Community Foundation to use at its discretion, field of interest endowments that have specific geographic or interest requirements, donor advised endowments which consider recommendations by the fund's adviser and county endowments to benefit a certain county.

“Some (donors) might feel very passionate about endowing opportunities for youth, and for arts and culture or endowing to a certain community, (such as) Shelby County or Marion County,” Meckes said. “Then when a grant application comes in, we can play match maker. If we have a fund for human services in Shelby County, (we look for) applications that will fulfill that charitable attempt.”

The 12 counties that the Community Foundation serves includes Adams, Brown, Hancock and Pike in Illinois and Clark, Knox, Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Pike, Ralls and Shelby in Missouri.

The Community Foundation was originally set up in 1997 and dispersed it's first grants in 1999.

One of the grants was awarded to Douglass Community Services in Hannibal, which will help fund its Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and Kids in Motion programs.

“It's going to help us expand our advocacy program,” said Douglass Community Services youth services director Jared Moore. “It's going to provide more experiences for the Kids in Motion students to be able to provide financial incentives, so they can connect the dots between hard work and financial gain.”

The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri was another recipient of a grant from the Community Foundation. This non-profit organization serves 140 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in the 32-county region they serve, including Hannibal.

“It's going to help us out tremendously because we have seen a 40% increase since COVID-19 in the need at the local level,” said Steve Yager, northeast regional coordinator for the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri. “We are seeing a lot of new faces and a lot of new families that are coming out.”

Yager said the partnership that the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri has with the Community Foundation helps it provide funds that supply food for area food banks and soup kitchens.

“It's unbelievable the impact that it is making on families,” Yager said. “We used to see folks that were of poverty level, now we are seeing middle class and even upper middle class folks that are in need. When you got the unemployment rate as high as it is, you have a need.”

The combination of COVID-19 and higher unemployment has hurt the funding of non-profit groups, who worry about being able to maintain programs and operations.

Moore said he was grateful for the Community Foundation's grant to Douglass Community Services.

“We needed to have a vision for what we were wanting to do with these funds (during the application process) this year,” Moore said. “It's been difficult with the COVID-19 pandemic on trying to imagine what these programs will look like and being creative on how to still provide these services. We had to be really creative together as a team to come up with a plan to submit to the Community Foundation.”

Meckes said the Community Foundation has seen an increase in demand for funding for operational support such as paying employees, utilities and rent since many fundraisers had to be canceled this year.

“We didn't necessarily have more applications than normal, but we are seeing kind of a shift in the types of needs that we are getting requests for,” Meckes said. “I think uncertainty is the common theme here, so they don't know if they are going to be able to do their normal programs next year. They are building contingency plans or they are shifting what they usually do to account for what they might not be able to do in person.”

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