Small grants make a big difference to community groups

Jim Elsasser, president of the Bowling Green Community Foundation, on the evening grants were awarded.


BG Independent News

To several local non-profit groups operating on shoestring budgets, the annual community grants are lifesavers.

This year, the grants will allow books to be purchased for children, playgrounds to add equipment for youngsters with disabilities, wireless microphones to be purchased for a theater group, and nutritious meals to be provided to children whose parents are trying to complete their educations.

“This is actually the funnest night of the whole year,” said Emily Dunipace, chairperson of the grants committee of the Bowling Green Community Foundation.

On Wednesday evening, the foundation handed out $43,000 in grants to 16 community organizations.

The grants aren’t huge – but to the non-profit agencies, they can make a big difference.

“It’s the reason we exist,” said Jim Elsasser, president of the BG Community Foundation. “To grow Bowling Green in a number of ways,” whether through the arts, education or community service.

“To improve the life in Bowling Green – that’s why we exist,” Elsasser said.

The foundation had a record number of applications totaling more than $100,000 for this year’s grants, Dunipace said.

“That gives you a sense of the need,” she said.

The goal is to reach out to as many in the community as possible – with money raised through fundraising, seed money from the Toledo Community Foundation, and endowments.

“It’s probably the best way to give back to Bowling Green in that it touches to many different programs,” said Kristin Otley, who was foundation president last year.

The foundation began in 1997 as idea from the BG Leadership group.

“It’s very Bowling Green,” Otley said. “It’s just so fun to give this money away.”

Kevin Cochrane, president-elect of the foundation, stressed that even the small dollar amounts are big deals for local non-profit groups.

“Tonight is the best night of the year,” he said. “It is so cool. It’s a fun way to stay involved with the community.”

Following is a list of the groups getting grants this year:

·         1BookBG Literacy Program – Funding for this community wide book club, which serves approximately 2,045 students and their families, will be used to give each student a follow-up book to read for enjoyment.

·         Best Buddies – Strives to promote inclusion through one-to-one friendships between people with and without disabilities in our community.  Funding will be used to plan events to promote and create meaningful, life-long friendships for students in the BGSU community and Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the Bowling Green town community.

·         BG Area Community Bands—Funding will provide an educational and interdisciplinary music and dance experience to depict the connections between these two art forms.  Hixon Dance, a professional modern dance company will choreograph three dances. Students from area dance studios will be invited to create some original choreography and join the band for two selections, as well as have an opportunity to attend a master class with the Hixon Dance director and dancers.

·         BG City Schools CAPsych—Funding will be used to provide safe and appropriate playground equipment for preschoolers age 3-5 with disabilities, including those with gross motor delays and in wheelchairs, to be installed on the Conneaut School campus.

·         Big Brother Big Sister of NW Ohio – Funding will be used to help sustain the current matches in the One-to-One Mentoring program and create additional matches for youth age 5-15 with qualified volunteers.

·         Black Swamp Arts Festival – Funding will be used to enhance the Teen Engagement area to include youth performing arts in a team vocal contest named Beats on the Streets.

·         Black Swamp Players – Funding will be used to purchase newer wireless microphones which are essential so that the audience is able to hear the performers over the band.

·         BG Youth Hockey – Funding will be used to increase the number of kids from the BG City Schools who participate in BGYH by offering discounts to the fees.

·         Community Christian Legal Services – Funding will be used to purchase necessary equipment for a functioning office like a computer, printer, and a working copier so that they can continue to provide free legal services.

·         Law Enforcement Foundation –Funding will be used to send two Bowling Green Police Officers to The Police Executive Management & Leadership training, culminating in a Masters-level certification in law enforcement management, comprised of Supervisory Training and Education Training Program (STEP), the Police Executive Leadership College (PELC) and the Certified Law Enforcement Executive (CLEE).

·         Project Connect – Funding will be used to provide free copies of birth certificates for persons attending Project Connect and who are facing homelessness and poverty.

·         Reach Out and Read – Funding will be used to promote a parent engagement initiative striving to give parents the information and tools to be successful and confident as their child’s first and most important teacher.  Trained professionals in local Pediatrician offices will give guidance to parents so that children ages 1-5 gain exposure to math and literacy skills so they are better prepared to be successful in school.

·         The Cocoon – Funding will be used to create, purchase and distribute materials that promote their community outreach efforts to educate the community on the mission of The Cocoon as well as the types of services and assistance that is available to survivors of domestic and sexual assault and how to access those services.   

·         The Nest Bowling Green – Funding will be used to provide nutritious meals and snacks for one year to those enrolled in our income-qualified free childcare/preschool program for local parents completing their education.

·         WC Clover Legacy Foundation – Funding will be used to help with Car Teens, a peer-to-peer educational program designed to educate youth first-time traffic offenders, and is implemented by members of the 4-H community and in conjunction with Wood County Juvenile Court.

·         Wood Lane Residential Services – Funding will be used to purchase Apple ipads for communication, socialization and sensory applications for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.