DeNeuville Learning Center. KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools. Shelby County Books from Birth. WriteMemphis.
These are some of the nine recipients of this year’s GiVE 365 grants. GiVE 365 is an initiative of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis whose members pledge a dollar per day per year, and are encouraged to vote on what causes that money will go. This year’s theme was “Eyes on the Prize: Organizations helping students graduate from high school or college,” and 11 finalists were asked to give three-minute presentations in front of voting members.
“Each of these organizations defines what that looks like a little differently,” Melissa Wolowicz, vice president of grants and initiatives said of this year’s theme. “DeNeuville is working with women on their GEDs, Hatilloo (Theatre) wants to teach students a skill set related to the theater and the arts that will give them something to help earn money while they’re getting their education.”
The total grant amount was $50,394 with individual amounts ranging from $3,200 to $7,500.
These are amounts that can make a difference for the respective organizations and in the lives of those they seek to help.
“If you give a child a book early in their life, it makes a difference in their school readiness,” said Kimberly MacQueen, board president of Shelby County Books from Birth, the local affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library that aims to send a book a month to every child from birth to the age of 5.
The organization, MacQueen said, is “proactive rather than reactive” and will use its grant of $5,484 to target two ZIP codes in North Memphis where children who might not have a fixed address are more difficult to locate.
GiVE 365 was intended as a way for younger people to become involved in philanthropy. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. said of the initiative in 2010, “If this is going to be the community that we want it to become, and which I know that it will become, that it is destined to become, the idea of giving has to become intergenerational.”
A welcome byproduct of a winning grant has become a boost in awareness of the recipient organization among the executives, philanthropists and civic leaders of tomorrow.
“We don’t get any government support, just a lot of individuals and private foundations, so we’re really grateful to GiVE 365 because it’s also a great way for people to learn about us all the way around,” said Mandy Yandell, executive director of Memphis Opportunity Scholarship Trust (MOST), a need-based scholarship program that provides partial scholarships to help low-income children attend pre-kindergarten through eighth grade private and parochial schools in Shelby County, with merit scholarships for high school.
The group won a $7,500 grant, the highest amount awarded, and will use the money, Yandell said, to continue a tutoring program for middle and high school-age students.
In its first two years, GiVE 365 gave $85,000 in grants to 17 nonprofit agencies. In its third year, the organization had, at the time of voting, 230 members.
Currently, GiVE 365 is in a membership drive emboldened by a matching grant of $36,500 by an anonymous donor. The goal is to add another 100 members before the end of the year.
“Since we announced the match on Oct. 5 at a member’s GiVE 365 house party, 25 new member households have signed on,” Wolowicz said. “Our members are excited, and we’re seeing a tremendous response as they tell their friends. We feel great about this membership drive and reaching our goal of 100 new members by the end of this year.”
Other grant recipients included:
• Christian Brothers University, $3,200, for its Middle College tutoring pilot program
• DeNeuville Learning Center, $7,500, to help support classes that prepare low-income adult female students for their GED
• Hattiloo Theatre, $5,000, for its Technical Theatre Program, a conservatory/internship program for students ages 14 to 17
• KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools, $7,000, for its second annual Rising Senior and College Transitions seminars
• Memphis Catholic High School, $5,000, for its Education that Works program, pairing students with a corporate sponsor for a work-study internship
• WriteMemphis, $3,600, for a five-week, volunteer-led, after-school creative writing program
• Youth Villages, $6,110, for its Transitional Living Diploma Initiative helping young adults aging out of foster care.
For more information on GiVE 365, visit cfgm.org.