The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis made it easier for a dozen Memphis nonprofits to continue the good they do in the community when it announced the recipients of this year’s GiVE 365 grantees last week.
As they have for the past three years, members of the GiVE 365 initiative vote on where and how collected funds will be distributed. Member households pledge to donate $365 – or a dollar per day – and then have the opportunity to vote on the applicants. For this fourth year, the total amount to grant was $88,983, which includes matching gifts from Barbara and Pitt Hyde, and Sylvia Goldsmith Marks. Last year’s total was about $55,000.
Total applicants numbered 59 and were reviewed by members before being narrowed down to 17 finalists who formally presented their cases to members in August at the Memphis Bioworks Foundation. There are currently 320 members who ranked their top five contenders.
“Everything went more smoothly than it ever has,” said Ashley Harper, director of grants and initiatives for the Community Foundation. “The reviewers had so many diverse opinions that they were able to share respectfully with each other. … There were people from many different occupations and backgrounds, so it makes for a really rich, grant-making body.”
The winners ranged from large to small, and with a variety of ways to look at this year’s grant theme: Home is Where the Heart Is. The organizations were challenged to present how they would endeavor to make Memphis neighborhoods more vibrant, livable and secure. For longtime institution Southern College of Optometry and its Success in School Vision Initiative, the $10,000 will go to provide comprehensive eye exams to about 180 preschoolers, kindergartners and second- and fifth-graders at Nat Buring Orange Mound Learning Center and the Frayser Achievement Elementary School. Memphis Child Advocacy Center will put its $6,150 toward training 123 adults in South Memphis to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.
One sign of a declining neighborhood can be seen in the number of stray dogs roaming the streets. Mid-South Spay & Neuter Services won an $8,500 grant to be used on educational materials with the majority going to spay and neuter dogs in the Heights Neighborhood north of Summer Avenue and south of Jackson Avenue, an area currently going through revitalization.
“We are working in partnership with the Heights Community Development Corp.,” said Stephanie Bennett, executive director of Mid-South Spay & Neuter Services. “They did an assessment and one big problem that kept coming up was there were stray dogs roaming the area. Instead of just trying to get rid of dogs, they tried to find the root of the problem, so they contacted us.”
The amount will be to spay and neuter approximately 100 dogs, with a co-payment of $10 to $25 for pet owners.
Not far away, in the Binghampton neighborhood, Erin Harris is thrilled with the first grant ever, for $9,657, for her project, the Carpenter Art Garden. Located at 301 Carpenter St., just west of Tillman Street, a once-blighted plot of land is now a community garden for neighborhood children and their parents to complete art projects.
“Every week, about 10 volunteers come on Tuesdays and work with about 50 children,” Harris said. “Some of them are take-home art projects and some of them are permanent to the garden.”
Across the street is Lester Elementary School, which also houses the Cornerstone Preparatory School, neither of which has an art program, so the Carpenter Art Garden serves as a space for those students to be creative and interact with local artists. The grant money will allow Harris and her volunteers to operate, purchase supplies and pay for water and garbage pick up for a year.
Across town in the Alcy Ball neighborhood, Service Over Self will renovate three to four homes with its $4,345 going toward materials such as lumber and roofing shingles. Executive director Philip Walkley said he was “blown away” by all of the organizations making their pleas for grants.
“Several of them I had never heard of and some of the projects they were doing were so cool and innovative,” he said.
Other grant winners include:
• Junior League of Memphis, $5,331 for G.R.O.W. (Giving, Readiness, Opportunity and Wellness) in the Binghampton community, providing Saturday special events for family members who cannot participate in G.R.O.W. weeknight activities.
• Levitt Shell, $10,000 for the amphitheater’s 50 Free Concerts Series featuring multi-cultural programs carefully chosen to reflect the diverse population of Memphis.
• Memphis Child Advocacy Center, $6,150 to train 123 adults in South Memphis to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.
• Mid-South Food Bank, $10,000 to provide backpacks filled with nutritious food every weekend during the school year for children at St. Patrick Elementary in the Vance Avenue Neighborhood.
• Neighborhood Christian Centers, Inc., $10,000 to open The House: Women’s Resource Center in Orange Mound to meet physical emotional and educational needs of women in that community.
• Saint Patrick Community Outreach, $5,000 to take The Green Machine mobile food market to 10 community events, including fairs, concerts, health fairs, community festivals, and sporting events.
• South Memphis Alliance, Inc., $5,000 for operating expenses for the Laundromat/Resource Center, which uses the unconventional setting of a Laundromat to offer South Memphis residents services including HIV testing, literacy, financial literacy and eye exams.
• St. Mary’s Catholic Church Soup Kitchen, $5,000 for the soup kitchen, which serves meals six days a week and served 91,000 meals in 2012.