A fund launched by the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area (CFHZ) last year to address escalating social needs during the pandemic will continue through 2021 to provide grants to area nonprofits.
The decision to continue the Community Stabilization Fund comes in response to feedback from nonprofit partners, community and local government leaders, and individuals being directly affected by the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.
“Our conversations with community partners revealed the deep level of continuing needs within our vulnerable populations. In times like these, we are grateful for the trust placed in us by donors to steward their contributions to the Community’s Endowment and allow us to continue making a meaningful impact,” says Elizabeth Kidd, CFHZ’s Vice President of Community Impact.
The fund was created in 2020 to respond to the impacts of the pandemic in the Holland/Zeeland area. Grants made from the fund continue to focus on three areas of investment:
- Financial stability — preventing people from slipping into poverty and providing basic needs supports.
- Mental health and substance abuse — scaling up existing mental health and substance abuse providers to be able to serve more people and reach different audiences.
- Education — providing extra resources to support those students who are likely to fall the furthest behind on their educational journeys as our model for learning has been forced to adapt in real-time.
The Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees approved an additional $225,000 from the Community’s Endowment resources to be allocated through the Community Stabilization Fund in 2021, which was augmented by generous contributions from local donors.
So far, two rounds of grants have been made from the Community Stabilization Fund in 2021 to partner nonprofits that continue to work tirelessly to serve our neighbors. In total, $176,880 was awarded.
Good Samaritan Ministries (GSM)
— $50,000 to continue the Eviction Diversion Program. The funding assisted GSM in adding staffing capacity and appropriate workspace. Last year, GSM leveraged $150,000 from the Stabilization Fund to unlock $1.5 million in federal dollars for an Eviction Diversion Program, which allowed them to empower 487 families to remain in their homes
. In 2021, they have an opportunity to receive an additional $9 million to continue this work and keep more than 2,000 families in their homes.
Community Action House (CAH)
— $15,000 to increase the amount of food secured through “food rescue.” The funding helped CAH procure the required equipment to increase their food rescue efforts by an estimated 17,500 pounds of food every month as the demand for food assistance remains high. Food “rescued” from local grocery stores (items tagged by the store to be disposed of that are not expired/damaged) is a highly efficient way to include produce and other perishables in to-go meals and boxed food assistance.
Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates and Community Action House
— $10,000 for outreach and application assistance for the Employee Assistance Program. The funding provided financial assistance to people whose employment was negatively impacted by the closure of restaurants for indoor dining, gyms, theaters, and other businesses that occurred from late 2020 through early 2021.
With a short window of time (10 days) for eligible individuals to apply for this support, the grant provided resources to launch local communications and publicity efforts including a local website, translate materials about the program into Spanish and other languages as needed, and provide in-person support in completing the application from trained staff at our local libraries for those who did not have access to the internet or a computer elsewhere.
— $40,000 to ODC Network to launch Project 180 in partnership with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (OAISD) and local school districts (Holland, West Ottawa, and Zeeland). The funding assisted in the launch of Project 180, a new nature-based summer education program that will directly target access and opportunity for families that have been disproportionately affected by the major changes to schooling because of COVID-19.
Project 180 will serve students in Pre-K through fifth grade, their caregivers, and school partners in Ottawa and Allegan counties, applying a multipronged approach to engaging families.
“The ODC Network is proud to partner with the foundation and local school partners to launch Project 180. Working collaboratively, we can directly create access and opportunity for children whose learning opportunities have been challenged the most by COVID-19. Exploring the outdoors together is a fun, safe, and effective way to promote learning and health for our community’s children,” says David Nyitray, President and COO of ODC Network.
Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holland (BGC) —
$19,080 for increasing Power Hour capacity and student transportation. Funding increased capacity for Power Hour, a program that provides daily homework help for children from first to 12th grade. It will also help BGC to continue providing the transportation that is critical for students in need of this support to access the program.
Escape Ministries —
$17,800 to launch the Summer Bridge program and provide in-house mental health and substance abuse counseling. The funding helped launch the Summer Bridge program, a new six-week course for rising ninth-graders whose grades, behavior, attendance, and/or social/emotional skills leave them vulnerable to ninth-grade class failure. Funds will also help provide in-house mental health and substance use counseling to ensure earlier, more consistent, and more accessible mental health services.
Evergreen Commons and St. Francis de Sales
($7,500 each); Immigrant Relief Fund and Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Festival
($5,000 each) —
Ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. The funding supported strategic efforts to reach residents of the Holland/Zeeland area who were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and experience barriers to accessing vaccines, specifically seniors, and Black, Indigenous, and community members of color. Conversations with community partners leading these efforts have highlighted several barriers to accessing the vaccine: technology, language, and trust in the location of vaccine distribution. Partners receiving funding have been actively engaged in outreach and education, often going above and beyond their scope of work to reach out to community members, answer their questions, get them scheduled for an appointment, and call with reminders and additional appointment details.
More information about these grants, and the Community Stabilization Fund, can be found at cfhz.org/stabilizationfund
CFZH awards nearly $450,000 in grants to meet increased need for services