Foundation ready to meet grant-seekers

June 15, 2003

By Ginny Wray - Martinsville Bulletin Staff Writer

The Harvest Foundation will start meeting this week with groups seeking some of the proceeds of the sale of Memorial Health Systems.

"We're open for business," said Harry Cerino, executive director of the foundation.

Starting Tuesday, the foundation will hold several meetings with representatives of charitable organizations and groups to show them how to apply for foundation grants. Meetings will be held several times each week through Labor Day or later, if needed.

The foundation was formed by the sale of Memorial Health Systems to Province Healthcare a year ago. It is charged with investing the $150 million proceeds from the sale and using about $7 million expected in annual earnings to help charitable programs and initiatives in the areas of health, education and welfare.

Cerino said the first grants could be awarded by the foundation board at its October meeting, if not sooner. They could range from a few thousand dollars to a couple of hundred thousand dollars, he added.

Invitations have been sent to nearly 90 groups which have contacted the foundation in the past months about applying for grants as well as other charitable groups in the area.

Allyson Rothrock, interim executive director, said the foundation hopes it contacted all possible grant-seekers but if it missed some, it was not intentional. "Anyone is welcome to call" and attend one of the informational meetings, she said.

Because of limited seating at the foundation's office on the lower level of the BB&T Bank building on Church and Ellsworth streets, only about 10 people will be able to attend each meeting. Representatives of interested agencies and groups are asked to contact the foundation at 632-3329 to schedule which meeting they can attend, according to Rothrock and Cerino.

"There is no advantage (in the grant-making process) to being at the first meeting" on Tuesday, Cerino said.

The meetings, which will be scheduled from 9 a.m. to around 10:30 a.m., will include a short presentation by Cerino and Rothrock and then open for questions.

Applications will be accepted only from groups with IRS 501(c)(3) charitable status, according to foundation guidelines. They must be located in or have their programs focused in Henry County or Martinsville and propose a project dealing with health, education or welfare. While the foundation may fund governmental entities, it will not fund activities which typically are the role of government.

Also, priority will be given to projects that focus on "building local capacity and independence," the guidelines state. Cerino explained that could mean providing funds for a non-profit day care center's workers to attend special training so the day care could become a licensed provider.

It will not fund institutions that discriminate; scholarships, fellowships or grants to individuals; international programs; debt reduction; sectarian religious activities, political lobbying or legislative activities; profit-making enterprises; medical research; direct replacement of discontinued government support; and emergency funding or extreme time-sensitive requests, the guidelines state.

Groups first should submit a letter of intent, which will be reviewed by Cerino and/or Rothrock. Then, they may be asked to submit a full proposal.

Possible grants could fund new programs or expansion of successful programs that could be continued beyond the foundation funding; replication on the local level of successful national practices; policy-related work and advocacy; project evaluation; strategic planning; organization capacity building; capital expenditures; publications and public information projects; and collaborative efforts with other nonprofits.

The application must include a history of the organization, its programs and services, geographic area and constituency served. It should include a description of the proposed work, how the agency will evaluate the short-term results and possibly long-term results of the grant it hopes to receive and financial information.

Applications will be reviewed by Cerino and then sent to the board's budget and grant committee with a recommendation to grant or decline funding, the guidelines state. The foundation board, which meets quarterly, will make the final decision on grant funds.

At the end of the grant period, or annually for multi-year grants, a report will be required describing the results of the grant. Periodically, final reports will be presented to the board for evaluation and possible use in modifying the foundation's priorities.
"We are interested in learning how to better grant-making in the future," Cerino said.

The goal of the foundation is to use the money to foster change in the community.

"We don't view this as a charity providing ongoing support," Cerino said. "We view this as leveraging change in the community."

More information on the foundation and the application process will be posted by Monday on the foundation's Web site,


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