Coover Regional Grantmaking Program fighting rural poverty

Nine of Missouri’s ten poorest counties, in terms of per capita income, are in the rural Ozarks (Douglas, Hickory, Oregon, Ozark, Ripley, Shannon, Texas, Washington, and Wright). All of the counties and towns across the Ozarks are familiar with the problems associated with rural poverty. This year, as the economic climate only exacerbates these circumstances, the Louis and Dorothy Coover Regional Grantmaking Program, a partnership between Community Foundation of the Ozarks and Commerce Trust Company, awarded $267,624 to 13 regional agencies for thoughtful solutions addressing the causes and consequences of rural poverty.

A list of grants and program descriptions are below.

Barceda Families – Lamar, MO
The lack of access to mental health care is particularly acute in rural communities. Based in Lamar, MO, the Barceda Families will provide access to and availability of children’s mental health services in Barton, Cedar, Dade, Dallas, Hickory, Polk and Vernon Counties by employing a qualified master’s level mental health professional.

Bonebreak Center of Nature and History – Salem, MO
This grant will support a multi-year youth program at the Bonebrake Center of Nature and History, entitled the “Ozark Kids’ Connection.” Serving students in Dent County, the program weaves together the study of nature, history, and culture though service projects and other opportunities.

Butler County Council on Aging – Poplar Bluff, MO
This grant supports the ability of the Northside Nutrition Center to provide hot, affordable, nutritious meals to homebound residents in Butler County and to have personal contact with each person who receives a meal. In addition to the benefits of a nutritious meal, the personal contact provides a significant health benefit by helping to prevent social isolation among this population.

Johnson County Historical Society – Warrensburg, MO
The historic Johnson County Courthouse has been a source of civic pride and an important community facility since it’s construction in 1840. Funds will be used to help restore and preserve the historic courthouse as well as install the necessary upgrades to make it accessible to all users, regardless of physical ability.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Home Association – Mansfield, MO
This grant will help implement the master site plan, which includes upgrades to the facilities, including the means to expand the education offerings to the tens of thousands of annual visitors to the site.

Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch – Lampe, MO
Community service projects are an important part of the Ranch’s mission, helping boys there learn the importance of being engaged members of the community as well as build confidence, responsibility, trade skills and more. This grant will allow the ranch to purchase the necessary equipment to carry out these tasks.

Maries County Soil & Water Conservation District – Vienna, MO
The Maries County Soil and Water Conservation District serves the entire 528 square miles of Maries County in assisting landowners with soil and water conservation issues to prevent the loss of precious top soil and to maintain water quality. The district also educates over 250 students in their annual presentations to the elementary schools on the importance of our natural resources. This money will be used toward the construction of a permanent office building and educational facility

Ozark Seed Bank of One Garden – Brixey, MO
The primary goal of the SEED SOLUTION (to HUNGER) collaboration between Ozarks Food Harvest and Ozark Seed Bank is to provide vegetable seeds, vegetable seedlings, and basic Ozark gardening information to local families and individuals in need in 29 Missouri counties. Ozark Seed Bank will produce 4000 booklets (with seed packets inside). The booklets will be written by the horticultural expert of Missouri University Extension Agency (southern region).

The seed packets and gardening booklets will be distributed by Ozarks Food Harvest to 29 counties in southern Missouri. The booklets and seeds will be given to low income individuals and families at centers which regularly provide food to those in need. The secondary goal of this project is the cultivation and production of 25 seed varieties which have both historical meaning and usefulness for local gardeners and farmers.

Ozarks Food Harvest – Springfield, MO
The Weekend Backpack Program™ provides at-risk children with food over the weekends when they may otherwise go home hungry. This grant allows Ozarks Food harvest to continue the program at 14 rural Ozarks elementary schools located in Barry, Dallas, Howell, Jasper, Lawrence, Polk, Ozark, Taney, and Webster counties.

Ozarks Medical Center Foundation – West Plains, MO
The “Ladies First” program will address women’s health issues in the 11 rural counties served by Ozarks Medical Center. This program will empower women to make their health a priority working together with local businesses, agencies and organizations to educate women about steps they can take to improve their physical and mental health and lower their risks of certain diseases. OMC will create a Rural Women’s Health Coalition consisting of local businesses, organizations, agencies and individuals that will promote the projects goals beyond an initial health fair kick off event and into a sustainable committee. This committee will continue to monitor progress towards accomplishing goals and impacting women’s lives in our region by conducting follow up surveys at 6 to 12 month intervals.

P.A.C.E. DBA Barry County Drug Court – Cassville, MO
A rural county with a population of approximately 35,000, Barry County faces significant problems with drug abuse. This grant will allow the County to double the number of people served by drug court, which focuses on recovery by providing an effective alternative to traditional probation methods of incarceration of non-violent adult substance abusing offenders while protecting the communities safety through intense supervision, frequent drug testing and more intense treatment. Each participant will be assessed and a treatment plan developed with a treatment facilitator.

Whole Kids Outreach – Ellington, MO
This grant will add to the successful outreach programs which for the past decade have worked to address significant disparities in prenatal health for families living in poverty in six socially and geographically isolated rural Ozarks counties: Butler, Carter, Iron, Reynolds, Shannon and Wayne counties. The service area’s infant mortality rate is 11.72 per 1000 live births. This disproportionately high level of infant mortality is the result of a variety of socioeconomic, as well as geographic factors which converge in the Missouri Ozarks. The three established Outreach Programs are: The Resource Mothers Program (RMP), The Family Enhancement Program (FEP), and the Maternal-Child Visiting Nurse Program (MCVNP). All three outreach programs include home visits by lay and licensed health professionals.

Willow Springs Community Foundation – Willow Springs, MO
This project will develop a program and location for coordinating the production and marketing efforts of approximately 150 small entrepreneurial employers in the area employing approximately 900 people so that they might grow in size and be able to provide larger salaries and more benefits to their employees. These employers will benefit from a coordinated service that provides them with access to State and Federal programs that could benefit them greatly. Many are too small to obtain training and equipment that would enhance their communications and sales activities.

The Coover Grantmaking Program was more competitive than ever this year. The review panel received 36 applications representing more than $1.3 million in total requested funds.

The Louis and Dorothy Coover Regional Grantmaking Program supports new and innovative programs or projects that address regional needs through advocacy, public education or capacity building. Organizations with regional service areas that are primarily outside of metropolitan Springfield and Greene County are encouraged to apply. Mrs. Coover, a 30 year employee of Commerce Bank, established the Louis and Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation in 1992 to honor the memory of her husband.

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