CFO Awards First Community Innovation Grants

Reducing childhood obesity, renovating new space for a collaborative food pantry, and researching the impact of civility training for kids are several of the projects awarded funding during the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ first Community Innovations grant cycle.

Six agencies received $50,000 for Metropolitan Springfield Community Innovations grants awarded Tuesday, April 3, at the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

At Tuesday’s awards ceremony, representatives described the circumstances that led to their grant requests.

Dana Carroll, with Community Partnership of the Ozarks, said they have been working on children’s social and emotional competencies, but their proposal for FLIP-IT training resulted from an additional need for training in self-control techniques.

“We receive many, many calls saying ‘We have an out-of-control child in our child-care program. What do we do?’” Carroll said.

Carol Robinett with Ozarks Counseling Center related a similar need for her agency, which is offering a “Keeping Your Cool” program for school-age children.

“Parents keep saying to us – ‘Do you have an anger-management program?’” she said. “We’ve already gotten a lot of interest from therapists as well.”

The Springfield Regional Arts Council will use its grant in conjunction with the Forest Institute to assess the results of incorporating the tenets developed by the Springfield Civility Project into its summer Arts in the Park program.

“Anecdotally, we noticed a difference immediately in the children last year so we want to track the impact of civil behavior,” said Leah Hamilton Jenkins, executive director of the SRAC.

Carroll expressed a high degree of optimism that these types of programs would give today’s kids more opportunities for long-term success.

“When they become adults, they will be up here making the world a better place,” she said.

The Community Innovation grants were awarded to:

  • Center City Christian Outreach, Inc.: $10,000 to renovate and improve accessibility at the new 418 S. Kimbrough Ave. location for the “Well of Life” program, an eight-member, interdenominational food pantry to address hunger needs in Springfield’s center city.
  • Ozarks Regional YMCA and the Healthy Living Alliance: $5,000 to expand after school dance/exercise classes for kids in K-6 grades at its target low-income schools, with a goal of reducing childhood obesity. Current classes have a waiting list for this less-traditional type of physical fitness program.
  • Community Partnership of the Ozarks: $10,000 to implement the nationally developed “FLIP-IT” (Feelings, Limits, Inquiries and Prompts) program to extend pre-kindergarten training to school-age children by educating teachers and parents on how to help children master their feelings to prevent disruptive classroom behavior.
  • Sigma House of Springfield: $5,000 for its expanded  “Family Preservation” program. The funding will be used to create a landscaped playground area for children of parents in residential or out-patient addiction treatment to help reduce the barrier to child-care needs and involve the whole family in the recovery process.
  • Springfield Regional Arts Council: $10,000 for assessment, analysis and program costs in conjunction with The Forest Institute to measure and summarize the impact of civility training for at-risk children participating in summer arts-enrichment programs. The “best practices” template would be made available for public use.
  • Ozarks Counseling Center: $10,000 for a new “Keeping Your Cool” program to teach anger-management skills to kids 5-12 in collaboration with other children’s services providers. Development of a full program is in response to high interest generated by a one-time session for the Junior League of Springfield’s “Done in a Day” projects.

The committee that reviewed the 22 proposals included Dr. Tyler Buzbee, Bud Greve, Mike Kromrey, Tim Rosenbury, Emmett Sawyer, and Lisa Slavens, along with staff support from CFO Senior Program Officer Randy Russell.