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The Community Foundation of the Ozarks has awarded its third year of support for a five-year grant for up to $1.3 million to address poverty in northwest Springfield to a partnership led by Missouri State University, the Drew Lewis Foundation and Drury University.
The partnership was selected by a volunteer grant committee through a competitive process that began in fall of 2015 and was awarded in April of 2016. Major funding for the grant is being provided by the CFO, the Stanley and Elaine Ball Foundation managed by Central Trust and the Musgrave Foundation.
The goal of The Northwest Project is to pilot strategies over a five-year period to help families overcome the challenges that have kept them living in poverty and sustain their long-term success in emerging from those circumstances. The CFO selected northwest Springfield for this project because much of the area exceeds the city’s overall 25.6 percent poverty rate.
The MSU/Drew Lewis/Drury partnership was selected for its vision of using a model that couples family support with neighborhood development and sustainability. This community-driven development model works to bridge the gaps between people and resources through both case management services and a teamwork approach where program participants will be expected to support each other.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the response we have received from the nonprofit community in our new approach to impact grantmaking,” CFO President Brian Fogle said. “We do feel this group, with its presence in the heart of Zone 1, can help lift many families out of poverty. Our hopes are this will become a transformative model for our community, where we will not only address immediate needs, but also help families achieve their own dreams for self-sufficiency and success.”
The Northwest Project is based at The Fairbanks, a community center in the Grant Beach neighborhood renovated by the Drew Lewis Foundation. Amy Blansit, director of the Drew Lewis Foundation and an MSU faculty member, is project manager. MSU is the overall fiscal agent and project administrator along with providing professional and student support through its programs in social work, kinesiology, education and others.
A strong consideration in awarding the grant is the proposed comprehensive evaluation process, which will be coordinated by The Grantwell and by MSU researchers. In addition, Drury’s Community Outreach and Leadership Development Office, an online volunteer service to coordinate participant needs and reduce overlap of services.
The MSU/Drew Lewis/Drury partnership also includes a number of community agencies that provide resources related to these pivotal assets. These partners are: Ozarks Technical Community College, MU Extension, the City of Springfield, Springfield Community Gardens, Springfield Public Schools, Life 360 Family Services, Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Club, Great Circle-Parenting Life Skills Center, Hand in Hand Multicultural Center, Care to Learn, Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, Ozarks Regional YMCA, Schweitzer United Methodist Church Jobs for Life Program, Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, City Utilities Community Credit Union, Southeast Rotary, Great Southern Bank, Central Bank and Trust Company, and many others.
Families interested in learning more about The Northwest Project can contact the Drew Lewis Foundation at The Fairbanks at 720-1890.
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