The Community Foundation of the Ozarks awarded a total of $50,000 on Tuesday, Nov. 20, as part of its Metro Springfield Early Childhood grant program. Seven agencies received grants for projects focusing on early childhood issues, including marital and parenting support for expectant couples; tools for diagnosing learning and development problems in Head Start students; literacy training to increase Kindergarten readiness, and several more.
The grant awards were for programs that address the “red flags” related to early childhood issues identified in the Community Focus Report for Springfield-Greene County. Representatives from each of the seven agencies made brief remarks about the work they are doing to improve the health, safety and school readiness of young children in Springfield-Greene County.
The grants were awarded to:
- Friends of Operation US: $9,200 for materials to support the Hatching Project, to provide strategies to reduce abuse and neglect of young children.
- Ozarks Literacy Council: $4,000 for materials to improve Kindergarten readiness though pre-literacy training and tutoring.
- University Child Care Center: $2,000 for teacher training and materials to support the Project Construct learning model.
- Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation Head Start: $13,750 to improve early childhood education and Kindergarten readiness through the use of DIAL-4 diagnostic kits.
- Community Partnership of the Ozarks: $8,000 for the Strengthening Families Program to help families internalize protective factors that lessen child abuse.
- Lighthouse Child and Family Development: $6,000 for materials and training to provide case management, family education and quality child care at low cost for high-need families.
- Springfield-Greene County Library District: $7,050 to help establish the district’s “Destination for Literacy” Program, increasing Kindergarten readiness.
These Early Childhood grants are not challenge grants, so matching funds are not required.
Alice Wingo, Resource Development Director for the Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation Head Start, said the $13,750 received by the organization will allow for the purchase of new, up-to-date DIAL-4 diagnostic kits, which will help screen for developmental problems in an estimated 6,000 low-income children over the 10-year life of the kits. “This will allow us to be on more equal footing with the public schools in diagnosing these problems at an early age,” said Wingo.
The Community Partnership of the Ozarks’ Strengthening Families Program, which received an $8,000 grant, is an effort to help local child care providers understand their role in developing children and empowering families. “Where is it that all children come and are on an even playing field, and are seen at the same level, regardless of risk? Child care is that place,” said Dana Carroll, Deputy Director for CPO’s Early Childhood division. “If you can identify where a family is struggling before that becomes a crisis, or if you can connect parents with other parents who may be experiencing similar issues, it builds a natural support system.”
These grants were made possible through the CFO’s discretionary grantmaking funds for Metro Springfield. The first 2012-13 grant cycle, for Community Response Challenge grants, was announced earlier in November with recipients having until Feb. 8, 2013 to raise 1:1 matching funds.
Another cycle will take place in the spring: A pool of $50,000 is available for Community Innovation grants for environmental, sustainability, or community development projects, or other identified emerging community needs. This is the second year for this grant round. The Community Innovation deadline is 5 p.m., March 8, 2013.
For more information on the CFO’s grantmaking programs, visit: www.cfozarks.org/grants.