Thanks to a grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), Grand Rapids Community Foundation is able to help local nonprofits fund youth employment for another summer.
A grant recommendations committee met earlier this month to decide which organizations would receive funding from the $220,000 grant. As the Summer PR & Marketing Intern, I was honored to witness the committee in action.
Almost like a fly on the wall, I saw how grants are made and how Grand Rapids Community Foundation ensures the best possible practices for distributing the fund. The review committee displayed a serious commitment to serving the community in an equitable and informed way.
The goals of this grant recommendations committee were clear— fund organizations that provide youth employment and support and serve residents of Hope Zones*. Committee members also emphasized the importance of funding programs that serve the greatest number of people.
After much deliberation and number crunching, the committee made their decision.
Project C.O.O.L. (Communities Opening Opportunities for Learning) received the largest award with a grant of $45,658. The committee's reasoning was logical: Project C.O.O.L. is an internship program focused on the most disadvantaged job seekers— students without resources and connections, youth from single parent homes, those living below poverty and youth living in high crime areas.
Further, Project C.O.O.L. hopes to empower 120 individuals this summer through training underrepresented youth with life skills, while preparing them for higher education and workplace assimilation. Simply stated, Project C.O.O.L. is an organization working to accomplish goals similar to those of the grant review committee.
Another stand-out grantee, Grand Rapids Urban League Summer Youth Employment program, was awarded $31,000. Grand Rapids Urban League is dedicated to educating and preparing youth and young adults to make smart employment and career decisions. Through the Urban Fellows Youth Program for boys and the Our Girls Rock Youth Program, Grand Rapids Urban League will serve many students in Hope Zones this summer.
Other organizations receiving funding for youth summer employment include Bethany Christian Services, Comprenew, EDGE Urban Fellowship, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, Jubilee Jobs Inc., New City Neighbors, Other Way Ministries, Steepletown Neighborhood Services and Wedgwood Christian Services.
I am FIRED UP (like any Chippewa should be) to watch grant dollars turn into wages and youth grow into empowered, hard-workers. I know this summer will be life-changing for youth employees and I look forward to sharing their stories with our community along the way.
*Hope Zones were created by WKKF in partnership with Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation (SAF) and the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation.