Foundation Gives New Grants

December 10, 2003

Bulletin Staff Writer
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The Harvest Foundation on Tuesday awarded its second round of grants, showering a total of $1.3 million on programs and projects ranging from Gateway Streetscape Foundation greenhouse to school efforts to improve math and literacy.

The largest of the 12 grants, $466,850, went to Patrick Henry Community College for the consolidation of existing allied health care programs and to launch new ones.  The grant will be spread out over three years.

The second-highest grant went to Henry County Schools, which received $190,000 to enable its 16 schools to begin the Differentiation of Instruction process focused on math and literacy.

The instruction process represents a strategy for teaching all students in a class, even though some of them learn differently, according to county school Superintendent Sharon Dodson.

Dodson said the schools will start with in-service training for faculty and use nationally recognized experts to implement the strategy in the system.

"I'm delighted that the foundation has worked so diligently and in such an expeditious way" to help implement a program that can make a difference in the schools, Dodson added.

Martinsville schools received $75,000 to address student performance in literacy and math, and Carlisle School received $20,000 to begin aligning curriculum in math and literacy, as well as further examining standardized test data.

The grants are part of "the foundation's master plan to help the schools help themselves," said Harry Cerino, executive director of The Harvest Foundation. which is charged with investing the proceeds of the $150 million sale of Memorial Heath Systems in charitable endeavors to improve Henry County and Martinsville.

The foundation's grants target areas of health, education and welfare.

In the area of health, Cerino said the foundation board awarded $22,000 to Family Life Services' Free Medical Clinic on East Church Street.  The grant will fund general operations for six months and also help with financial reporting and board development.

"We think this is a big deal.  They're looking to really develop a solid foundation for the clinic as an institution.  It wants to become a real player in the health care delivery in the community," Cerino said, explaining the reason for the grant.

In the area of welfare, grants ranged from $135,710 to the Bassett Community Center Inc. for facility improvements and to train its newly elected board of directors, to $10,000 to The Eastern Shepherd Drug Rehabilitation Center, Inc. to help it develop a strategic plan to determine if a new substance abuse program should be launched.

Among other grant recipients were the new Boaz & Ruth Inc. program, which received $75,000 to provide life and job skills for underserved residents and improve race relations, and Gateway Streetscape Foundation Inc., which received $10,067 to construct a greenhouse and purchase equipment for the urban greening program.

A new program to the area which received a $35,000 grant is Partners for Livable Communities.  Cerino said this Washington, D.C. organization works with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging to have older community residents define what services are needed to make the area more livable for seniors.  Ideas that have been raised in other areas include affordable home repairs, continuing education, large-print books in libraries, legal services for the elderly and affordable transit services, Cerino said.

"It empowers local folks to have a voice to say what's relevant for this community," he said, adding that the results "might be a blueprint for further action."

That possible exchange of ideas within the community and beyond is a goal of the foundation, he added.

The foundation has about a dozen pending applications and it turned down "a couple of dozen" because they were not in its areas of interest or it did not think the organization could deliver the service it proposed, Cerino said.  He added that he could not say exactly how many applications the 12 grants were chosen from.

"We turn down proposals, we don't turn down organizations.  They could come back to us" with another application to be considered, he added. 

All grants are being measured for short-term and long-term effectiveness, he said, adding that he hopes each grant makes a difference in the community.

"The world is starting to see what The Harvest Foundation is and the kinds of things we are supporting," he said.  "One of the common threads on both rounds of grants in August and today is they are building the institutional infrastructure to make Martinsville-Henry County a better place."

In August, the foundation awarded 15 grants totaling $2.5 million.

The foundation will award grants again in February and May.


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