The Brunswick News - by Anna Hall
Throughout the course of 2015, more than $2.1 million was raised by the Communities in Coastal Georgia Foundation to support an array of diverse nonprofit organizations along the Georgia coast.
This week, those solid efforts were recognized when the organization announced the 16 coastal agencies and departments to which it will contribute a total of $62,000 in grant funding for its annual community-wide giving campaign.
“We had 31 agencies apply for grants, and we clearly saw there are so many great organizations up and down our coast which deserve assistance,” said Valerie Hepburn, President/CEO of the Foundation.
This grant cycle, the Foundation was able to generate more money than in past years, when average campaign funds settled between $50,000 and $55,000.
Founded in 2005, the Foundation serves Glynn, McIntosh and Camden counties. In its 10-year history, it has awarded more than $7 million in grants.
Giving this year centered greatly on supporting organizations rooted in helping at-risk youth and their families to ensure the next generation doesn’t slip through the cracks. Hepburn hopes to arm the generation with the skills and tools needed to find good jobs and pursue higher education.
Grants were also offered for initiatives to address teen pregnancy and births to young, unwed mothers; juvenile crime and gang activity; high school graduation and workforce readiness; youth development and innovative education strategies; and risk reducing, including child protective substance abuse or mental health services.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to support agencies from the coastal 4-H program and local libraries to the juvenile court system,” Hepburn said.
In early January, the grant cycle for the 2016 awards opened, with Foundation board members doing their due diligence to observe the agencies’ efforts during the course of several months. That hands-on process allowed board members to have a real connection with the groups offered the competitive Foundation grants in the annual cycle.
“The process of awarding these grants is very deliberate, with our board members gaining a greater understanding of the work conducted throughout our community,” Hepburn said.
While some of the 16 agencies have received grant funding from the Foundation in past years, several new groups came to the forefront this cycle. That includes Morningstar Children and Family Services in Glynn County, which was awarded a $5,000 grant to support its art therapy program for youth in residential foster care, many who have been past victims of abuse and neglect.
Also new to the grant list is the International Seafarers Center in Brunswick, which received a $1,500 grant to purchase a video camera and voice recorders for its Port as a Classroom program; the Glynn County Board of Commissioners/Juvenile Court of Brunswick — which received a $5,000 grant to support the Kidsnet Glynn program in serving more participants; and the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia Inc., serving Glynn and McIntosh counties. The Girl Scout’s $4,946 grant will be used to support its “I am a GIFT (Gorgeous, Intelligent, Fabulous, and Talented), You Will Not Abuse Me” program, a dating and domestic violence prevention program for girls and their mothers or guardians.
It’s rewarding, Hepburn noted, to know that while the grants offered to the 16 selected agencies may not be for massive amounts of money, the selected groups are able to be creative with their offered funding. Even small grants are able to change lives, she said.