Back from Afghanistan, American Army Veterans Find Spice of Life in Small Business

After completing combat tours in war-torn Afghanistan, a couple of American army officers realized they had some unfinished matters of service to address when they returned home. The Chicago-based entrepreneurs meant business.

Rumi Spice, launched in 2014, is the brainchild of army veterans and co-founders Kimberly Jung, Keith Alaniz and Emily Miller who wanted to empower rural Afghan farmers by working directly with them to import high-quality saffron to homes, stores and restaurants in the United States. Out of that idea, Rumi Spice has been able to generate sales — last year of more than $1 million — while introducing an alternative to opium for Afghans to farm.

Of course, appearing on an episode of the television show “Shark Tank” last year, when the owners of Rumi Spice received a $250,000 investment offer from Mark Cuban, and winning the grand prize of $25,000 in the FeDex Small Business Grant Contest, hasn’t hurt business, either.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch,com, said small business grants like the FeDex grant award are more beneficial to startups because, unlike loans, they don’t have to be repaid. While government grants provide a large portion of money to incubate small businesses in their early growing stages, they are not the sole nest egg for up-and-coming startups to covet.

MWBEzone.com, the small business service of GrantWatch, lists government grants, corporation grants and foundation grants and funding opportunities for small businesses from corporations, some of which back the most prominent brands in the world. FeDex selected Rumi Spice for the small business grant from among 7,800 entries.

Rumi Spice evolved from a startup program at Harvard Business School, where Jung and Miller were students. The forward thinkers had already made a connection with Carol Wang, an international tax attorney with the Afghan Rural Enterprise Development Program, which links local enterprises to companies that have the potential for high growth on the global market.

Thanks to the partnership, more than 1,900 Afghan women have gained employment at three facilities, where they hand-process the saffron during the five-week harvest season each year. From Afghanistan, the saffron is then shipped to Rumi Spice at a facility in the Backyards section of Chicago where it is packaged and sent to Michelin-star restaurants and consumers across the United States. The Rumi Spice network, which boasts more than 300 Afghan farmers, sustains 3.6 percent of Afghanistan’s total foreign direct investment in agriculture.

For-profit entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, particularly minority and women-owned, frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at MWBEzone.com. By registering, subscribers gain access to both MWBEzone.com and GrantWatch.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch

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Power of Technology – Grants Bring Internet Connectivity Up to Speed in Rural Communities

For teachers at Congress Elementary School, poor internet service forced digital savvy thinkers, who wanted to use technology in the classroom, to begin the slow process of downloading an instructional video the night before to show in class the next day.

That was before educators in Yavapai County, a small Arizona farming community about 100 miles north of Phoenix, banded together to win a combination of state and federal grants aimed at upgrading local broadband connections to improve technology in the classroom.

The last of the funds, a $1.8 million grant designed to bring county internet broadband speeds up to standards, will enable Congress Elementary and 60 other schools and libraries in Yavapai County to access a new fiber-optic connection that will provide faster, more reliable online service. But, that’s not all. The new high-speed broadband will also enable entire towns including homes, businesses and public safety agencies to take advantage of the improved connectivity.

Bringing the Internet up to speed is a long time coming for rural pockets of Arizona, which ranks 29 among states in connectivity. That means other states are worse off. The good news is that $625 million in federal funds has been made available to underserved rural communities lacking adequate internet connectivity under the recently passed spending bill.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, says local and state organizations can begin applying for these funds sometime in the summer. In the meantime, GrantWatch lists the most recent technology grants designed to increase access to broadband internet services in rural and underserved areas of the nation including states like Alabama, where online service can be essential for boosting technology education, economic development, emergency services and healthcare.

Some 842,000 people living in rural Alabama do not have access to broadband internet. That’s almost 20 percent of the state’s population living without what can be akin to “21st century electricity.” Connecting those communities with the same internet services that cities and suburban areas have enjoyed for many years will be a massive project, but one in which policymakers are committed to make happen. Yet, to provide internet connectivity capable of reaching every household in a four-county region of Alabama will cost about $40 million. So even though Tombigee Communications received a $3 million federal grant to help extend service to this region, the job is not even halfway toward completion.

Yavapai teachers, meanwhile, are happy to have secured a lane on the information superhighway. Instead of applying as individual entities, which would have made obtaining funds more difficult, dozens of local educators and administrators collaborated to submit a proposal to the federal Schools and Libraries Program.

Now, getting online is no longer a problem at Congress Elementary, although internet capability remains less than half of what is recommended by the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway. But, at the very least, the planned fiber-optic connection should improve download speed at school – and help the students learn at home.

Principal Stephanie Miller now uses technology every day in class to teach in ways she wouldn’t be able to do without the bandwidth. Internet access has also provided teachers at Congress Elementary with more flexibility to allow for individualized instruction, taking advantage of apps and computer programs that let students learn at their own pace – rather than the slow speeds once required of downloading the internet.

Educators, administrators, nonprofits, small businesses and entrepreneurs across the USA and International seeking internet connectivity grants and frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for technology grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up here to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

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4 Reasons Nonprofits Choose GrantWatch

GrantWatch.com, was designed by grant writers to meet the unique needs of the nonprofit, small business and entrepreneurial communities. The online search engine lists grants that are offered from funding sources in the United States, Canada, and abroad.

Nonprofits, small businesses and entrepreneurs turn to GrantWatch to identify grants from local, state and federal government programs, corporations, and public and private foundation to meet their funding needs.

Here is what subscribers say, separates GrantWatch from other online industry resources:

Content – Information about some 4,000 currently accepting grant applications from local, state, federal and international sponsors with new grants posted daily. These grants can be found under more than 55 categories. Upward of 700 new grants are uploaded weekly. More than 14,000 past-due grants are archived.

  • “We especially appreciate the lesser-known foundation grants which are frequently excluded from other grant databases.”

Substance – Each query lists only relevant grants, which include clear and concise information required of applying for and securing funds from a verifiable funding program. Regularly scheduled alerts are forwarded to subscribers when grants match personalized search criteria.

  • “I also really appreciate the grant details page. It tells you all the information on the 1st page. It gives enough information to decide if the grant is for you.”

Simplicity — The website is easy to read, navigate and understand. Create a profile and start searching for grants right away. Subscribers utilize search tools to organize their research and grants viewed, site feature saves the grants for future reference. Another feature, your personalized grant calendar helps you monitor grant deadlines, deliverables and completion dates and the status for submitted and awarded grants. 

  • “The site filters allow us to efficiently find grantmakers by funding priorities and geography”.

Service — Specialists can be reached through chat, email or phone — 9 a.m.-6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday — to assist with searches. Requests for funding opportunities that are not among the current listings are forwarded directly to the research team for identification and posting.

  • “I also find the weekly reminder emails with lists of grants in my state very helpful. It’s exciting to see the list of new grants that have been added.”

Nonprofits, small businesses and entrepreneurs frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up here to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff writer at GrantWatch.com

Blue Angels Foundation Grant Helps Female Veterans Get Back on Their Feet Again

Each raised their right hand and pledged to protect freedom, but, for various reasons, women who have served in the armed forces like former Sgt. Susan Stapleton have trouble asking for help.

Sgt. Stapleton was the first woman to move into The Clinton Cox Residence, a 12-bedroom facility in Pensacola, Fla., that is creating a healthy lifestyle that many veterans so often miss when they leave the service. The Clinton Cox Residence supports up to 12 female veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress, providing counseling, addiction treatment, job training and other services.

Programs are offered through Pathways for Change, a Pensacola nonprofit that established the center in January, thanks, in part to a $40,000 grant from the Blue Angels Foundation, which supports military causes. The Dugas Family Foundation provided $200,000 in matching grants for the project as well.

The National Coalition for the Homeless claims military veterans account for 23 percent of the nation’s homeless population. In 2015, American Community Survey data reported that 21.7 million veterans are women, or about 9 percent. Of that 21.7 million, up to 12 percent are homeless. A higher percentage of female veterans have a service-connected disability, have no personal income, and are in poverty.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said in addition to federal support, foundations, corporations and nonprofits provide grants to service the unaddressed needs of veterans and their families. GrantWatch lists many of these grants for veteran serving organizations, especially funds designated to nonprofit s to help veterans and their families manage the transition from active duty to civilian life by dealing with issues such as health, housing, education, career development and family support.

According to Department of Veterans Affairs reports, the suicide rate for veterans is significantly higher than for civilians, and the difference for women is even greater. Despite elevated rates of suicide, substance abuse, and homelessness, many veterans lack access to life-saving support systems that offer treatment programs and temporary housing or important transitional services such as tuition waivers for in-state colleges.

Mike Campbell, a former Blue Angels pilot and the foundation’s president, believes The Clinton Cox Residence is a step toward helping female veterans identify treatment to deal with these issues and to get them back on their feet again.

Nonprofits and interest groups that serve the unaddressed needs of military servicemen and are frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.com. Sign-up here to receive the free weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

 

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Price for Freedom – Grants Turn Coffee Houses into Healing Places for Military Veterans

As owner of the coffee house on Milwaukee’s north side, Bob Curry watches his customers sit by themselves for weeks, quietly observing the environment around them, before they ever so-slowly begin to mingle with others.

Most of the conversations start with "Did you serve?" But, Curry refuses to make judgments about his customers, whom, like him, are USA veterans who long for a safe, comfortable, drug-and-alcohol free environment to heal and recover. “Dryhootch,” a nonprofit which Curry established a decade ago, is that therapeutic sanctuary.

Many of the vets that visit Dryhootch – “Hootch” is military jargon for a safe place to sleep during combat – suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychiatric condition that follows a traumatic event. In these cases, military combat.

Curry knows something about PTSD. The 66-year-old former pilot who flew more than 250 missions during the Vietnam War is one of 653,400 USA veterans treated for PTSD each year by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Given the preponderance of the disorder — more than 14 million Americans will be diagnosed at some point in their lives with PTSD, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

 

Curry recognizes the urgent need for more healing places.

 

Funded by donations and grants from the government, foundations, corporations and individuals, Curry opened a second Dryhootch in Milwaukee, near the VA Medical Center. He plans to open another at a site in Madison, Wisc., and one is in the works for Atlanta. Each will be dedicated to offering a safe, healing place where vets can engage in peer-to-peer counseling to deal with issues of physical and mental health.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said healing the emotional or physical trauma of military service and reintegrating veterans into society is a priority that requires money. The good news is that GrantWatch provides information on these funding opportunities for nonprofits to access grants to provide services and for individual military veterans and their families including health, education, employment and housing.

Grants to USA and Puerto Rico Nonprofits to Construct or Rehabilitate Housing for Veterans

Grants to USA Veterans to Recognize Service in the Nation's Armed Forces

Intensive Business Course and Mentoring Program for USA Veterans with Disabilities

Curry continues to work with vets daily and with community advocates as well including the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, which provided him with a $50,000 grant to fund refinements of a prototype smartphone app built to connect vets statewide and beyond to Dryhootch healing places in their communities.

When he returned from Vietnam, Curry, like many other vets, tried to “stuff” the memory of his service and the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder the war had caused. But, those symptoms – flashbacks and nightmares — came roaring back once the Gulf War started in 1990. As a result, he gained weight, drank excessively and, in 2011, reached rock bottom when he was charged with homicide by intoxication.

Even though he was eventually cleared of the charge by reason of insanity due to a rampant case of PTSD, Curry continued to flounder in and out of state mental institutions until fellow Vietnam veterans helped him confront his PTSD. Not only did Curry stand up to his exaggerated arousal and flashbacks, he created a source of assistance for fellow veterans to cope with their military experiences over a cup of coffee.

Nonprofits and interest groups that serve the unaddressed needs of military servicemen and are frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants for veterans can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.com. Sign-up here to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

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Urban Agriculture Grants Plant Seeds for Access to Healthy Foods, Education, Job Training

While growing up in a public housing complex in the Bronx, Tyrone Robinson didn’t find many options to eat healthy. But, when he started working at a New York City nonprofit, the 23-year-old’s choices began to grow.

Robinson is one of dozens of New Yorkers who have joined the ranks of urban farmers, thanks to Green City Force, a nonprofit organization based in Bedford-Stuyvesant that creates a fertile ground for healthy foods and job training in New York City Housing Authority complexes.

Since 2013, Green City Force has been cultivating not only radishes and beets, but people and hope as well at farms established at NYCHA sites in Brooklyn, East Harlem, and the Bronx. In turn, GCF administers Urban Farm Corps, an AmeriCorps program that teaches three dozen NYCHA residents between the ages of 18-24 each year to manage crops and maintain a farm.

The focus of the farms is on fruits and vegetables, but advocates believe the program, funded in part by a grant from the Citi Foundation, provides a vital link to nutritious food, education and jobs to New Yorkers. A second round of funding from a $500,000 grant announced last month will provide Green City Force with the flexibility to pilot new programs that create access to fresh, healthy foods in neighborhoods where the only dinner options might be Chinese food or McDonald's.

Agriculture in urban areas has gained interest among residents and policymakers across the nation. The federal government, which believes urban agriculture can play an important role in supporting local food systems, has established grants that help inner-city farmers overcome a unique set of challenges including the high cost of land and access to capital resources.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said local governments and nonprofits are also developing programs that foster both city and suburban agriculture in vacant lots and parks, roof-top balconies and roadside open space. Many of these funding opportunities can be identified on GrantWatch.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology reports more than 300 urban and suburban farms have sprouted up across the United States, about a third of which are in the Northeast. New York City is home to nearly 2,000 gardens as well as farms and rooftop growing spaces, many of which are overseen by nonprofits eligible for state Department of Agriculture and Markets grants. These opportunities aim to develop and expand urban farms and community gardens. Others requests for proposals target Brooklyn community-based organizations that can create job training programs in support of the green economy in the borough.

These grants underscore a growing movement to look beyond rural agriculture and support local food systems not only in cities like New York, but in Holyoke, where lawmakers are teaming up with a nonprofit group to create an urban farming program in the western Massachusetts municipality. The plans call for the state to invest $200,000 in two container farms at Holyoke Community College. Under the oversight of Nuestras Raices, interns from the school along with neighborhood apprentices will be taught hydroponic food production including how to grow leafy greens that will be sold to the college and local restaurants.

After his tenure at Green City Force, Paul Philpott established his own hydronic farm inside a shipping container tucked in a parking lot across from the Marcy Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He tends to a bounty of radishes, kale, lettuce, beets, all lit by bright pink lights. The futuristic farm he manages yields about 35 pounds of produce each week, about half of which is sold to restaurants, caterers and chefs through his business, Gateway Greens.

Nonprofits as well as entrepreneurial farmers like Paul Philpott looking to cultivate their urban agriculture systems can streamline their search for capital by turning to GrantWatch.com, which lists easy to read and simple to comprehend grant applications. Sign-up here to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

 

About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch

Teacher Appreciation Month – Grants Improve Classroom Learning Experiences

When a few students begin to chatter during a silent reading period, Ben Domonkos effortlessly weaves lessons on manners into the assignment. In a moment, he tells his fourth-grade class, pointing to the miniature scoreboard in the corner of the classroom, he will release them to write.

Teaching is anything, but a chore for Domonkos – or “Mr. D” as he is affectionately known – who was named 2018 Teacher of the Year by the South Bend Community School Corp. The fourth-grade teacher at Tarkington Traditional School, received a $1,000 grant that he can apply toward professional development, as well as a plaque and golden apple.

Like many instructors who will be honored during Teacher Appreciation Month in May, Domonkos is considered “an amazing educator,” one the Indiana school “is fortunate to have.”

At a time when many schools across the nation are confronting budget squeezes that prohibit advanced learning techniques, Domonkos regularly writes and submits grant applications to external funding sources for new classroom tools or equipment.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said forward-thinking teachers like Domonkos are always looking for innovative methods to expand instruction and engage students. But, these efforts typically require money from sources other than the school district. To help streamline the search process, GrantWatch lists the most up-to-date funding opportunities that can help teachers reduce the expenses involved with implementing their strategies.

Grants for Teachers: 

Grants for public school teachers for the improvement of education, grants for classroom supplies, innovative teaching strategies and professional development teaching opportunities. Find classroom grants for school funding, grants to public school educators to enhance teaching, provide support for STEM professionals and for the pursuit of careers in teaching.

GrantWatch provides access to funds from a variety of sources including federal and local governments, private corporations, nonprofits and foundations. Thousands of dollars are available to fund professional development, classroom enrichment, humanities and STEM, school supplies, field trips and anything else that helps teachers to do their jobs.

For John Forish, a graphic arts instructor, and Beth Lancaster, head of the science department, starting a fishing club would be a path for their students at Naugatuck High School in Connecticut to get outside and learn about conservation. A grant from the Naugatuck Education Foundation provided $4,083 that not only covered the cost of fishing poles, but enough money to purchase water quality monitoring equipment and an underwater drone for club members to both find fish and study their movements.

The Naugatuck Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that raises money to provide grants for education programs in borough public schools that go above and beyond what is funded through the annual budget. Grants are awarded through an application process.

Hikind, a former teacher who raised more than $11 million for a New York City school district, said those educators who can creatively express the need for a sustainable project that benefits the most students over the longest time will be the most successful. The first step, she said, is to create a detailed need. Once a project is defined, GrantWatch can be accessed to identify a funding source.

The first grant Libby wrote in 1984 was to Tandy Corporation to prove that their Model 100 could be used in the educational community. The TRS-80 Model 100 is a portable computer introduced in 1983. It is one of the first notebook-style computers, featuring a keyboard and liquid crystal display, in a battery-powered package roughly the size and shape of a notepad or large book. The $15,000 grant outfitted her classroom and Hikind was able to to teach written communication skills through word processing.

Domonkos, who enjoys mixing new technology with pencils and notebooks into his lesson plan, encourages other faculty members to apply for educational grants for their classrooms or schools. A $20,000 grant that he applied for and received has provided Chromebook mini-laptops and training for his classroom. An earlier grant allowed him to trade out traditional desks for a variety of tables with whiteboard surfaces.

As a result, his students get to choose where they want to learn and how they want to collaborate; sitting at tables or with peers; writing on the table surface with an erasable marker, standing up while conducting research through Chromebook, or sitting crossed-legged on the floor reading.

Educators, school administrators, parent teacher organizations and nonprofits determined to reduce the costs associated with improving classroom learning experiences can streamline their search for external funds by turning to GrantWatch.com, which lists easy to read and simple to comprehend grant applications. Sign-up here to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch

White House Initiative Opens Doors to Federal Funds for Faith-Based Organizations

On National Prayer Day, the White House has introduced a new initiative that may put religious groups on equal footing with other nonprofits when competing for federal grants.

In a Rose Garden ceremony before 200 religious leaders, President Trump signed the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative, an executive order designed to provide faith-based organizations with a stronger voice within the federal government.

The new order follows previous attempts by the Bush and Obama administrations to create similarly named offices to foster partnerships between the government and religious organizations.

President George W. Bush first presented the idea, in 2001, to establish an office that would serve as a watchdog against government overreach on religious liberty issues. However, the moved sparked debate about whether funding could breach a separation of church and state. Under the Bush administration, faith-based nonprofit organizations received federal grants totaling more than $10.6 billion.

"We take this step because we know that in solving the many, many problems and our great challenges, faith is more powerful than government and nothing is more powerful than God," said Trump. 

Faith-based and other community organizations can find federal grants to fund programs that work with at-risk children, the homeless, women and substance abuse on GrantWatch.com

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch, said she expects more opportunities for faith-based groups as a result of the president’s announcement.

“So many faith-based nonprofits are the troops-on-the-ground that provide much-needed services in communities,” she said. “They are the trusted entities that people turn to first. Sadly, these nonprofit groups have been asked to provide more, but with less resources to access funding.”

Faith-based religious groups and nonprofits frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for federal grants to support their social services and programs can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up here to can receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch

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Youth Be Served – Local Youth Grant Helps Milford Community Center Renovate Dance Studio

In an unfinished part of the basement that competes for space among batting cages, a boxing gym and weight room, Jennifer Ward envisions hardwood floors, mirrors, ballet barres and kids grooving to the sound of hip-hop.

The director of the Milford Youth Center hopes a recent $54,706 grant will help the facility and its programs step into the 21st century and continue to grow. The money from the Greater Milford Community Health Network will transform 9,000 square-feet into a dance studio and movie room and put a stop to air quality concerns that affected mats and materials already in the space.

Based on state requirements, the Youth Center was eligible for capital improvement programs worthy of assistance from the local health network. More than 150 children have taken advantage of the nonprofit center’s hip-hop, yoga and cross-fit exercise classes in the last couple of years, through a partnership with the Milford Regional Medical Center.

A total of eight nonprofits were awarded a 2018 grant through the Greater Milford Community Health Network:

We would like to congratulate the following grant awardees:

  1. United Way of Tri-County
  2. Family Continuity Inc. 
  3. Edward M. Community Health Center
  4. Hockomock Area YMCA (Level 1)
  5. Hockomock Area YMCA (Level 2)
  6. Milford Youth Center
  7. Medway Public Schools
  8. Franklin Food Pantry

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said nonprofits rely on grants to provide recreational opportunities for K-12 youth. From funds for facility construction and the purchase of recreational equipment to hiring staff and implementing programs, eligible nonprofits can find these grants on GrantWatch.

Grants are currently available from several sources to benefit nonprofit youth activities including the State of Washington which is offering funds to help defray capital costs associated with renovating and acquiring recreational facilities for children.

In the past two decades, federal, state, and local policy makers and foundations have dramatically increased funding to promote and sustain nonprofit youth activities held during after-school hours. Funding is often patched together from multiple sources.

When local business and volunteers rallied financial support to address player safety concerns in the Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass program, Major League Baseball — under the Baseball Tomorrow Fund — chipped in a $39,000 grant to help fund the installation of lights and renovations to playing surfaces, dugouts, fencing and bleachers as well as the purchase of an infield groomer to support on-going maintenance. 

Youth advocates believe participation in sports not only plays an important role in exercise, but studies have shown that children who are involved in recreational activities are better equipped to excel both academically and socially and less likely to drop out of school and become involved with drugs and alcohol.

About 130 children continue to use the Milford Youth Center daily. In addition to renovating the dance studio, youth center officials hope to create a multi-purpose space next door. These ongoing improvement efforts follow renovations a year ago to the gym and upgrades that made the 100-plus-year-old building accessible to the handicapped.

Nonprofits frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for funding sources for youth grants and sports and recreation grants for activities held during after-school hours can identify grant opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.com. Sign-up here to  receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch

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Federal Budget Bill Boosts Spending for Community Development Block Grants to Nonprofits White House Food Pantry

Outside the soup kitchen, a big white storage container houses cereal boxes, bags of rice and canned vegetables among other nonperishables food items. The white container food pantry is affectionately called “The White House,” at GWIM , Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries, is a lifeline to families in need.

GWIM uses money from CDBG, Community Development Block Grants to help fund the nonprofit’s food pantry and soup kitchen. Barbara Ann Dublin, the director, said GWIM received $51,062 last year from the City of Waterbury’s CDBG allotment, about one-fifth of her operating costs.

CDBGs, one of the longest-running programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, funds local community development activities, such as affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, and infrastructure development. When the massive omnibus spending bill was passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last month, CDBG received an 8 percent funding increase through September 2020.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said CDBG funds and other grants for municipalities are awarded to regional and small local governments with only general provisions for which way the money is to be spent. She said many of these funding opportunities are used to help towns and cities ensure decent affordable housing, provide services to people in the most vulnerable communities, provide food pantries and to create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses and other forms of economic development such as, tourism and education.

From Vermont and New Hampshire to Mississippi and Texas, CDBGs propose funding a wide range of programs on GrantWatch.com — from natural disaster relief and restoration to feasibility studies and economic development, public services and housing.

In February, more than $1.5 million in federal CDBG money was awarded to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Those awards, in contrast to categorical grants, CDBGs were given for rather broad purposes with few strings attached. Trump had first proposed cutting the entire CDBG program next fiscal year. But, instead, the $1.3 trillion budget bill boosted the block grant program’s funding by $305 million.

HUD figures show the department distributed $3.2 billion in CDBG funding nationwide in fiscal year 2017. Some of that money helped to pay for a new combination oven, which is enabling kitchen staff at the Pocatello Senior Activity Center, in Idaho, to prepare nutritious meals more efficiently to seniors who are unable physically or financially to provide for themselves.

For nonprofits with limited budgets, expanding services to better help the community is always on the radar.  Finding the right funding resources can be challenging. A $50,000 grant of CDBG funds to the Literacy Council of Grand Island was used for new programs to assist students with English language instruction. Nearly 200 students attended group classes offered each week during the council’s funding period.

The Nebraska nonprofit also used the money to create an alternate learning space called Community Connection Center and to get new equipment for computer-based study in a Language and Learning Lab. Students at the Literacy Council are from more than 30 countries, a majority of whom are learning English as a second language; while another program helps English speakers learn Spanish.

Meanwhile, staff at Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries will be able to fully stock the "White House" at the end of every month, because it can count on continued CDBG funds.

“Without CDBG, I don’t know what we would do,” said Dublin.

Colleen Letizia, who regularly picks through the pantry for food, knows going hungry is one less thing she needs to worry about.

Nonprofits, municipalities, public and private foundations, small businesses and entrepreneurs frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for food pantry and economic development grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.com. Sign-up here to can receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

 

About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch.com

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