From upgrading cribs in child care centers to providing the backing to bring a traveling Smithsonian exhibit to the Lumberyard Arts Center in Baldwin City, the Douglas County Community Foundation awarded grants to a wide range of causes this year.
Grants totaling nearly $149,000 went to 40 area organizations, which is the highest number of individual grants in the organization’s 12-year history.
“We look at the community as a whole and provide all kinds of funding that makes life better for people that live here. That goes all the way from food assistance to supporting arts and to supporting the local environment,” said Marilyn Hull, the organization’s program and communications officer.
The increase in the number of grants reflects a growing need for social services in the community and a boost in donations to the foundation, Hull said. More than half of the organizations that received grants work to meet basic needs of low-income and disabled residents.
“The extent of need has grown as a result of the economy. There are more safety net organizations that provide basic needs for things like food, shelter and medical care. And all of those agencies are seeing a rapid increase in demand. We tried as best as we could to fund as many of those as possible because people are hurting in our community,” Hull said.
This year’s largest award went to Health Care Access Clinic, which was given $15,000 to expand health services for uninsured residents. The foundation also gave $10,000 to renovate the day center for Family Promise of Lawrence, an organization that provides shelter to homeless families by partnering with religious organizations.
One new project funded this year was a $13,200 donation that went toward replacing cribs in child care centers throughout the community. Many child care centers were faced with the expensive task of buying cribs because of new safety regulations.
The organization is also giving $7,000 to the Kansas Humanities Council and the Lumberyard Arts Center to host a Smithsonian traveling exhibit, “The Way We Worked.” The Baldwin City venue was one of six sites in Kansas picked to display the exhibit, which will arrive in spring 2013.
The Douglas County Community Foundation was established in 2000 through a $4 million donation from Tensie Oldfather.
“Since then, lots of local citizens have added to it, which is really nice. It has given us the flexibility over the years to react to community needs that have changed over time,” Hull said.