On May 6, members of Women United gathered to hear from 5 non-profits hoping to receive one of our 2013 Human Service Grant Awards. This year, we are awarding two grants at $20,000 each. Our 2013 Grant Semi-Finalists include:

Blue Ridge Area Food Bank – The Food Bank has created a Family BackPack Program to alleviate child food insecurity at the household level. Children receiving free and reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program have an increased risk of hunger on weekends or over school holidays. This initiative aims to send a backpack full of healthy foods home with each eligible child every weekend and holiday. A $20,000 grant from Women United would fund the Family BackPack Program for 2 years at Yancey Elementary, where 61.9% of families live between 0-185% of the federal poverty level.

Children, Youth & Family Services – CYFS hopes to use a Women United grant to help fund their ParentingMobile, a fully-equipped mobile classroom bringing parenting education, support and early learning playgroups to low income neighborhoods in Charlottesville and Albemarle that are isolated by poverty, language and cultural barriers. The ParentingMobile is staffed by CYFS Parent Educators and community volunteers who bring structured weekly on-site playgroups with tailored curricula to support increased family participation and meet the unique needs of the children in each neighborhood it serves, including Parks Edge, Friendship Court, Blue Ridge Commons and Southwood.

Friends of the Southern Albemarle Intergenerational Community Center – This organization requests funds for an educationally-based after school program at B.F. Yancey Elementary School. Known as Club Yancey, this program offers at-risk youth structured and safe after-school creative activities, help with homework, and other enrichment activities. Previously funded by a 21st Century grant, the program was free to students. Now that they have lost that grant, Club Yancey has had to charge up to $100 per child and thus has seen a significant drop in enrollment. A Women United grant would be used to provide partial and full scholarships for children whose parents are unable to pay tuition.

Hospice of the Piedmont – Hospice of the Piedmont asks for a grant of $20,000 to launch Piedmont Kids, a pediatric hospice program and philosophy of care for children facing a life-limiting illness or condition who have a life expectancy of months, not years. Hospice of the Piedmont envisions a day when no one in Central Virginia dies alone or in pain and intends to provide expert, compassionate care and support through Piedmont Kids. A Women United grant would be used to help fund the salaries of pediatric experts, to offer a variety of family support services for education, fun, and respite, and to customize grief support programming.

Jefferson Area CHIP – Jefferson Area Children’s Health Improvement Program (CHiP) requests $20,000 to provide early learning opportunities to children living in poverty in Charlottesville and Albemarle in order to promote kindergarten readiness and to increase the likelihood of continued school success. CHiP family support workers and nurses partner with parents to provide a nurturing, stimulating, and optimal early learning environment for young children utilizing the national early learning model Parents as Teachers and the Ages & Stages Questionnaire. A Women United grant would be used to support the salary of a Family Support Worker/Parent Educator who would conduct at least monthly home visits with 50 children ages 0-7 over the next year.

Each of these organizations has been through a rigorous evaluation by our 2013 Grant Committee. In February, all Donor and Corporate Members of Women United were asked to nominate non-profits. The Grant Committee researched each nomination and sent Request for Proposals (RFPs) to 11 organizations. The proposals were then reviewed to ensure that they fit with Women United’s mission and a vote by private ballot was held. The five non-profits listed above received majority vote.

Now that we’ve heard directly from the 5 Semi-Finalists and the Grant Committee has conducted on-site visits of every organization, it will be up to our Donor and Corporate Members to decide. They will be sent the proposals and an online ballot in June. We will announce our two winners at our Annual Human Services Grant Award Luncheon this fall.

All Donor & Corporate Members are eligible to be a part of our Grant Committee and to vote on our recipients. To learn more, email WomenUnited@UnitedWayTJA.org