The Norfolk Area Community Foundation Fund has awarded a record 12 grants totaling almost $36,500 to nonprofit organizations this year.
The Norfolk Area Community Foundation Fund — which was founded in 2001 and began building a permanent endowment to benefit Norfolk in 2008 — is designed to help ensure a growing, thriving community where giving back is an ongoing priority for all citizens.
The unrestricted endowment surpassed $1 million for the first time last year, which means more grant money can be awarded each year.
Since 2013, the Norfolk Area Community Foundation Fund has reinvested more than $136,000 in grants back into community-led projects and programs to help the Norfolk area. All of the fund’s endowment earnings are awarded back into the community.
Through the unrestricted endowment funds, the fund advisory committee seeks to create and sustain innovative projects, services and opportunities that enhance the Norfolk area.
This year’s grant recipients are:
— Animal Shelter of Northeast Nebraska: $1,000 for Paws for Education, which teaches pet owners about training, caring and interacting with their pets. This program will help provide resources, support and education at no cost to improve the community’s overall awareness on humane practices for pets and better pet ownership knowledge for all ages.
— Boy Scouts of America Mid-America Council: $2,500 for Norfolk Area Scoutreach, an after-school program offered at Norfolk Middle School, Washington Elementary School and Grant Elementary School. Some of the activities include how to “leave no trace” while outdoors, racing pinewood derby cars and visits from local career professionals.
— Bright Horizons: $3,000 for Project Homeless Connect. In its third year, Project Homeless Connect provides free services such as housing assistance, medical and dental services, haircuts, and drug, alcohol and mental health screenings. The grant allowed for the purchase of medical supplies, such as medication planners and diabetic supplies, as well as the cost to rent a mobile mammogram machine.
— City of Norfolk Mayor’s Diversity Council: $4,000 to help fund the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast and the Cinco de Mayo event, as well as continue its mission of enhancing diversity and inclusion in Norfolk.
— City of Norfolk restrooms at Embrace Park: $5,000 for restrooms at Embrace Park, which was funded through an account with the Norfolk Area Community Foundation Fund. In addition, the remaining $40,000 in that account also will go toward the restroom project, which will provide an ADA accessible restroom for park users.
— Nebraska Conservation Education Fund: $5,000 to Norfolk Common Ground, which will host a series of monthly educational programs that will focus on local conservation issues facing the community and surrounding area. The funds also will be used to assist with local projects, such as a program that improves soil health, a community solar project or planting native grasses and plants.
— Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau: $1,250 for the Norfolk sculpture walk, which featured sculptures on loan from artists across the Midwest. The 10 sculptures were located around downtown Norfolk for residents and visitors to enjoy while exploring the community.
— Norfolk Arts Center: $4,000 for Healing Art Therapy courses. The arts center is partnering with the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, as well as mental health specialist Melanie Smith of Good Talk Counseling Services of Norfolk, to pilot this program with domestic violence victims through the Ponca Tribe. The goal is to include art therapy sessions as a permanent part of the programming offered by the arts center.
— Norfolk Public Library: $2,414.88 for Learning with a Laser, which will provide a laser cutter at the library to enhance hands-on technology learning. A temporary makerspace installed at the library last fall as part of a grant from the Nebraska Library Commission featured a laser cutter, which proved to be the most popular piece of equipment.
— Norfolk Public Schools Foundation: $5,290 to provide equipment for an inclusive playground at the new Little Panthers Preschool, which will open next month. A Volta Inclusive Spinner, an improved version of a merry-go-round, has multiple seating positions for children of all ages, including easy access for those with wheelchairs.
— Oasis Counseling International: $1,500 for the Befriend Mentoring program, which pairs families with mentors to help them develop meaningful relationships and make positive choices such as abstaining from drugs, alcohol and violent behaviors.
— S.M.I.L.E.: $1,500 in new and existing scholarships for recreational therapy on horseback, which helps special-needs children and adults of all ages and disabilities. S.M.I.L.E. now serves 135 students per week with 17 horses and ponies.
Past grant recipients include the Elkhorn Valley Museum, GED in Spanish, the Great American Comedy Festival, the Philanthropy Council of Northeast Nebraska, the Norfolk Family YMCA, Norfolk Youth Theatre and The Zone.
The Norfolk Area Community Foundation Fund is an affiliated fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.