In 2008, United Way of Bradley County was chosen to administer a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Bradley Memorial Hospital. It was a bold move by the BMH Board of Trustees, but has proven to be a very wise move, and one that has proven beneficial to the community.
Since receiving these funds, United Way of Bradley County has distributed the interest earned from the hospital sale to the tune of over $2 million, and has given grants to some 31 different programs and initiatives.
“Thousands and thousands of people have directly benefited from this fund,” noted Matt Ryerson, United Way of Bradley County president and CEO. “To think that we have been able to, in our five years of providing grants, distribute over $2 million is mind-boggling.”
The first year of grants saw nine different programs receive funding. These first grant recipients included: Audio C, Behavioral Research Institute, the Boy Scouts of America ScoutFIT program, ITLT (Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders Today), LUDIC (Lee University Developmental Inclusion Classroom), Partnership for Children, Families and Adults, the Starfish Program, STARS (Students Taking a Right Stand), and the Youth Counseling Center.
“A few of these organizations only received funding that first year to get their programs started, while others have been grant recipients since 2008, including Starfish and the Youth Counseling Center,” Ryerson said. “Through it all, we have been able to provide about $400,000 in grants each year to programs to benefit the community.”
That first year, $399,179 in grants was distributed. Since then, each year has seen grants given by United Way reach over $400,000, with the grants for 2013 hitting an all-time high of $481,280.
The Community Impact Team decided when first created that the interest from the hospital funds (approximately $19.5 million) would allow them to provide grants up to $400,000 for each of the first three years. Approaching half a million dollars in grants this year, CIT member Keith Barrett said that even more could be available for 2014.
“The investment managers continue to do an excellent job for us and the balance of the fund is now well over $23 million, even after distributing almost $2.2 million,” said Barrett. “The committee is working to gradually increase the amount of funds available for distribution and expects the 2014 distributions to be over $700,000 and should continue to grow year after year.”
Ryerson said that it is most rewarding to see new programs and initiatives seek these grants, as well as support for existing, successful organizations. Eight programs are receiving grants for the first time, including: Family Promise of Bradley County, Girls on the Run, Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland, the Museum Center at 5ive Points, the Refuge Community Center, Tri-State Therapeutic Riding Center, and the Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church Sack Pack program.
The eighth program to receive funds is one that is very exciting to Ryerson and the Community Impact Team.
“We are funding an adult dental clinic, which is now in operation serving citizens of our community,” Ryerson said. “This is exciting because every time we have done a survey or needs assessment, dental care for our most vulnerable has always been at the top of the list.”
Several of the organizations which have received grants will move into United Way campaign partner status in 2014, including LUDIC, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), and the Hope Center/Children’s Advocacy Center.
One of the requirements in applying for a grant is to prepare a sustainability plan so the program will continue after it reaches the end of the grant cycle. Both Starfish and the Youth Counseling Center have been grant recipients for five years, which is the outer limit of grant allocations.
Organizations wishing to be considered for these grants are required to attend workshops which explain to them the application process. The first workshop for 2014 grants was held this past Wednesday, with two more scheduled for April.
“We had a very nice group attend the first workshop, and I expect we will have as many, if not more, come to one of the two workshops in April,” said Lisa Mantooth, United Way Director of Partner Relations. “Remember, you must attend one of these workshops to be eligible to apply for these grants.”
The next workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, April 3, at 10 a.m. at the Cleveland Public Library. The third workshop is set for Wednesday, April 17, at 10 a.m., also at the library.
Grant applications will need to be turned in by May 31, with grant recipients being chosen in August, and announced in September.
“We look forward to being able to provide even more services to our community through this health endowment fund,” Ryerson said, “so if you have a program, project, or idea, please come to one of the two remaining workshops and learn more about the process.”
To find out more about the workshops, contact Mantooth at the United Way office at (423) 479-2020.