CFO, Commerce Trust award $321,000 in Coover grants

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks, in partnership with Commerce Trust Company, presented grants totaling $321,000 this month. The grants were awarded to 21 organizations focused on serving rural areas across central and southern Missouri, as well as three projects focused on place-based education initiatives benefiting students in rural school districts.

With this year’s distribution, the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation has surpassed the $5 million milestone in grants since its first awards in 2002.

The 2018 Coover Regional Grant recipients were selected from among 101 proposals that totaled $1.2 million in requested funding. The awards, made Thursday, April 19, at Commerce Trust in Springfield, went to agencies working on poverty, health, education, community development, and arts issues. Representatives of the agencies receiving the grants made comments about the needs they are addressing in their communities.

These grants are made possible through the generosity of the late Julia Dorothy Coover, who worked for Commerce Bank for 30 years. She established the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation in 1992 to honor her husband’s memory. Since then, the Coover Charitable Foundation has awarded nearly $5.4 million in grants across the Ozarks.

“It is our sincere pleasure have helped the Coover fund give back to the community in excess of $5 million with this year’s round of distributions,” said Commerce Trust Vice President Jill Reynolds. “We are elated to continue to assist these organizations that are all working so hard to benefit our communities in southern Missouri. Mrs. Coover would be so proud to see the impact she and her husband have made through their generous legacy.”

The 2018 Coover Regional grant recipients are:

  • About Our Kids: $19,000 to support the purchase and installation of a ventilation hood in the main kitchen of the facility and to replace aging kitchen equipment and appliances;
  • Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks: $15,495 to support the Summer Program Scholarship Fund for needy families in Stone and Taney County;
  • Care to Learn: $19,000 support the Care to Learn Clothing Closet concept in the rural school districts of Ava, Greenfield, Marionville, and Monett;
  • CASA of South Central Missouri: $16,100 to support the purchase of e-tablets for CASA volunteers;
  • DOCO Inc., Sheltered Workshop: $19,000 to support the implementation of handicap accessibility in the Ava-based sheltered workshop for its disabled employees;
  • Eastern Jasper County Laubach Literacy Action/Carthage Family Literacy Council: $15,000 to support an early literacy program which counsels new parents on the benefits of reading to their child beginning at birth;
  • Hudson School District/Hudson PTO: $15,000 to support the purchase and installation of a new playground for the school and community;
  • Lake Area Big Brothers Big Sisters: $9,750 to support the organization’s school based mentoring program;
  • Oregon County Long Term Recovery Committee: $11,355 to support the work of the committee in its long-term efforts to return Thomasville and Oregon County residents to their homes after historic flooding in 2017;
  • Ozark Greenways: $19,000 to stabilize the Coates Branch stream bank and to continue the work of the Rail Trail Preservation Project;
  • Ozark Trails Council, Inc.: $15,325 to create a more welcoming, comfortable space for campers of all abilities and their families by providing a handicap accessible space;
  • Polk County Health Center: $19,000 to build a coordinated, community-wide effort to address issues related to opioid abuse and misuse in Polk County through prevention, intervention, and treatment;
  • Ripley County Caring Community Partnership: $8,365 to support programming, which assists individuals in preparing to take the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) and to attend online college courses;
  • James Caring Center: $19,000 to improve and increase frozen and shelf-stable food storage at their new senior center and food pantry facility;
  • The Community Partnership (Rolla): $10,310 for the Early Care and Education program, providing CPR and first aid certification classes, cots and cribs, first-aid kits, and other safety items for early childhood centers;
  • Whole Kids Outreach: $15,000 to support a nurse, which will provide approximately 350 home visits to 75 families with at-risk newborns living in six impoverished counties in southwest/south central Missouri;
  • Youth Volunteer Corps: $4,300 to launch the YVC – Joplin, which will plan, lead, and execute four weeks of community service projects in Joplin.

The grants are selected by a volunteer board committee representing regional communities, chaired by Jill Reynolds. Other members included: Rob Foster, Marshfield; Brian Hammons, Stockton; Jim Holt, Reeds Spring; Randy Howard, Aurora; Kathy Lasley, Cuba; Robin Morgan, West Plains; and Marvin Silliman, Lake Ozark.

The Coover Place-Based Education Grants, totaling about $71,000, were awarded to recipients at the April 6 Rural Schools Rendezvous, held in Willow Springs.

These awardees included:

  • Placeworks Art Initiative: $50,000 to fund the 2018-19 operations of the region-wide program, facilitated by the Springfield Art Museum, which sends trained teaching artists into rural Missouri classrooms to create custom, interdisciplinary art lessons, free of charge to districts and teachers. Field trips to the Springfield Art Museum and/or Watershed Committee of the Ozarks Watershed Center are incorporated into the projects. Teachers are selected based on an application process.
  • Ozark Mountain Music: $10,000 to expand both after school and camping programs in order to teach traditional Ozark fiddle music to more young students.
  • Missouri State University AHEC: $10,000 to support the Bolivar Pipeline Education and Recruitment Program and to expand the program to six additional counties with workshops in 21 high schools, summer MASH camps, and the Bolivar ACES club.
  • Sweeney Elementary School in Republic: $1,000 to expand operation of the Sweeney Elementary student garden club and begin a sharing program through food pantries at Sweeney and in the Republic community.

The Coover Place-Based Education Grants are selected by a volunteer board chaired by Jill Reynolds. Other members included Judy Brunner, Matt Hudson and Heather Landwer.

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks is a regional public charitable foundation that holds more than 3,000 funds for donors, nonprofit partners and 49 affiliate foundations across the region south of the Missouri River. Founded in 1973, the CFO has made grants and distributions of more than $300 million and holds assets of more than $300 million as of March 31, 2018.

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