Community Foundation Funding Cycle Seeks Nonprofits
By Dianne Anderson
Dollars keep flowing down in the form of grants from the Community Foundation serving San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.
Now, the only thing left for nonprofits to do is apply. July 31 is the deadline to submit applications within four Field of Interest funds.
The foundation’s grant awards are based on very specific criteria, but the Field of Interest grant is a competitive open grant, meaning any nonprofit can apply to compete for the money if they fit the criteria.
This funding go-round includes the Irene S. Rockwell Fund, which only benefits residents in the city of Perris with an award for $1,000 for a nonprofit within the city of Perris working to improve the well being of its citizens. The Seraphim Fund aids women and children, helping economically disadvantaged victims of domestic violence and those suffering from mental illness. The average grant is $10,000.
The Fred Stebler & Eva V. Stebler Foundation Fund will be awarded for the treatment and care of children in Riverside County for children with special needs with an average grant of $10,000.
James Bernard & Mildred Jordan Tucker Fund benefits individuals in wheelchairs.
Charee Gillins, spokesperson for The Community Foundation serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, said the grant dollars come down specifically at the request of their generous donors to help certain groups in need. The donor’s endowment generates interest dollars, which are then awarded back to the community in the form of grants.
“It’s because they have a passion or interest in that issue. A lot of times, it comes from their own personal story, or they want to honor someone in their memory,” Gillins said.
New nonprofits may not yet be eligible, and should be in operation for over one year before applying. Competitors are asked to carefully review the details of the grant to make certain they are a good match.
Capacity building is another big focus of the foundation to ensure the nonprofit sector stays healthy and strong to execute its mission. Recently, she said they offered a round of grants to help nonprofits working in the area of capacity building, helping other nonprofits create their board, or build up their organizations for the future.
Earlier this month, the Community Foundation also celebrated its tenth successful year of their Youth Grantmakers Program, and graduation of their class of 97 high school students that funded $60,050 in grants to support youth-led projects.
High school students demonstrated they know how best to spend big dollars when it comes to important issues facing their peers. Four groups of high school students from Riverside, San Bernardino, Temecula, and Coachella Valley researched and awarded 50 grants to nonprofits.
Each group representing their regions awarded about $10,000 for Inland youth-led projects. High School seniors also gave grant dollars to fund special projects as part of the Seniors Charity of Choice.
“These students determine where the funding goes. We give them grant dollars, guidance and mentorship. The choices that they make are approved by the board, but this is real money,” Gillins said.
And, it’s not too early for students to understand how to become leaders.
Most start as early as 10th grade, and stay with the program through their senior year. As they go on to college, they take many new leadership skills, including how to be civic leaders, and active with community service projects.
“We’re celebrating that these students are doing grant-making, they’re introduced to philanthropy. They’re becoming leaders in their own right. They’re pretty amazing kids,” she said.
Since the Youth Grantmakers program started, over $387,000 grants have been awarded to 155 nonprofit agencies.
Students are expected to commit to the nine-month curriculum, attending one Sunday meeting each month. At the end of the program, the celebration and ceremony for all four groups was held at the Riverside Convention Center, and drew about 350 participants.
This year, the grantmakers from 27 high schools decided on the funding nonprofits would receive for projects specific to youth, such as bullying or teen pregnancy. The teens determine where the money goes based on their nonprofit site visits, surveys with their peers to learn what issues take priority.
“A lot of issues keep coming back over time, teen pregnancy, stress over preparing to enter school, keeping up grades, getting ready for a four year college,” she said.
Whatever major concerns come up with the assessments, the teens look to fund nonprofits that work in those areas. Through the process, she said the teens also learn to connect their peers with tools and resources.
“They are very much in tune with what’s going on,” she said. “We believe in our youth, we invest in them, we give them grant dollars, and they get a lot of support and mentorship.”