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Brad Sell and Leah Gayman: Grant awards are a positive step forward in strategic process

February 26, 2012

United Way of Washington County and Community Foundation of Washington County will be writing monthly columns in The Herald-Mail to keep the Strategic Community Impact Plan (SCIP) process in the forefront of the community’s conscience, and to report on the progress that is being made toward the SCIP goals.

In the last month, the event that had the greatest impact on the process was the awarding of the Community Foundation’s annual unrestricted grants. For the first time, in 2012, the grant applications were specifically tied to the SCIP goals and strategies. The foundation’s funding statement reached out to organizations and programs addressing one or more strategies within the following focus areas as outlined in the SCIP document: Education; Family Safety and Security; Health and Well-Being; Elderly; Disabled Population; and Self Sufficiency.

The $114,484 in available funding was distributed to 21 agencies with grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. According to the SCIP goals, here is how the funding was allocated: Health Goals (Nos. 22, 23, 24 and 25): $65,790; Older Adult Goals (Nos. 26, 27 and 28): $20,000; Family Safety and Security Goals (Nos. 20 and 21): $8,419; Educations Goal (No. 1): $7,975; Self-Sufficiency Goals (No. 30 and 31): $7,000; and Disability Goal (No. 15): $5,300.

The largest single goal area to receive funding from the Community Foundation was Health Goal No. 22: Decrease youth risk behaviors such as substance abuse, tobacco use, unsafe sexual practices, dating violence, bullying and sexting. Six nonprofits received a total of $29,580 in funding for prevention and treatment services in this area, including the Boys & Girls Club, Girls Inc., Teens Have Choices (formerly the Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition), W-House and a new coalition called the Jonathan Street Planning Committee. An example of one of the improvement objectives regarding risky behavior is to decrease alcohol use in 12th graders by 6 percent in the next five years.

There also was a great emphasis placed on Health Goal No. 24: Decrease the obesity rate in Washington County children and adults by increasing physical activity and healthy eating. The improvement objective is to decrease obesity rates by 3 percent in the next five years. Four organizations shared $22,000 in grants to address this issue in 2012, including Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, Girls on the Run, Collaborative Learning Garden and Memorial Recreation Center. The committee realized how much obesity is a factor in so many health problems affecting Washington County and strongly supported these programs.

Finally, Older Adults Goal No. 26 — Promote healthy living and disease prevention among older adults — received $14,210, allocated to three organizations: Easter Seals Adult Day Services, Alzheimer’s Association and Fort Ritchie Community Center. One of the improvement objectives in this area is to increase the number of older adults staying in their homes by 5 percent in the next five years.

We hope that you will refer to the SCIP document or the website (www.strategicwashingtoncounty.org) to better understand the goals and strategies associated with these grants.

We are pleased with the response of the nonprofit community to the SCIP document in applying for these grants from the Community Foundation. But the sobering reality is that the Community Foundation was only able to fund $114,484 of the $428,686 in total requests from the agencies that applied. We look forward to working with other nonprofits, funders, governmental agencies and private donors in addressing these and other goals and strategies identified in the Strategic Community Impact Plan.

In the coming months, we expect to be able to provide many more examples of the SCIP document being put into action in our communities. Everyone has a role in creating positive change in Washington County and we look forward to working with you to make it happen.

Brad Sell is executive director of the Community Foundation of Washington County and Leah Gayman is executive director of United Way of Washington County.

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