The Douglas County Community Foundation will award about $200,000 from its community grant fund this year to 43 area groups, it announced Tuesday — a jump of about $50,000 from its 2012 total and the highest number of grants since the organization formed in 2000.
The increase is thanks to a rise in giving as well as income on investments, said Chip Blaser, the foundation’s executive director.
“It’s really a tribute to those donors who make that possible in the community,” Blaser said.
The recipients of the 43 grants, chosen by the foundation’s board of directors, applied for funding in December as part of an annual process.
The largest grant, for about $10,300, will go to Independence Inc. to purchase vehicles with wheelchair lifts to transport people with disabilities. The foundation received an increased number of requests from organizations serving older adults and people with disabilities this year, Blaser said.
Two other gifts of $10,000 went to the Lawrence Schools Foundation to fund a pilot project for an electronic curriculum program and to Just Food to help low-income people access healthy food.
Other grants range in purpose from community health to arts and theater. The foundation also received an increase in requests for funding from groups outside Lawrence, including from Baldwin City and Lecompton, Blaser said.
The gifts announced come from the foundation’s general-purpose community grant fund, which contains about $6 million. Foundation donors can choose to give money to that fund, which awards grants to a variety of organizations each year as chosen by the board of directors.
Most of the foundation’s grants come from donor-advised funds, established by individuals, families or businesses who recommend donations to specific organizations.
This year’s total awarded from the community grant fund, Blaser said, is the highest since the organization shifted to its current structure. In 2012, the foundation awarded about $149,000 in grants from the fund.
From all of its funds, the foundation awards about $2 million in grants each year. In December it surpassed $10 million in total grants awarded since its formation in 2000, following a $4 million gift from the late Tensie Oldfather that gave it its start.
Altogether, the foundation has more than $20 million in assets.