by Wilma Norton in Giving
First ‘Big Idea’ Grants Announced
Community Foundation of Tampa Bay this spring called on nonprofit organizations to think big and propose collaborative projects that could make a real difference in the lives of those who struggle for food and housing.
The Big Idea proposals were so strong that, with the help of its donors, the Foundation tripled its original commitment and will award three grants of $50,000 each to:
Directions for Living, (whose proposal was No. 1) which will partner with the Homeless Empowerment Program and Catholic Charities’ Pinellas Hope to bring behavioral health services directly to homeless shelters in Pinellas County.
MORE Health Inc., which will partner with Tampa Bay Harvest, Boys & Girls Clubs, Layla’s House and All Nation’s Church to build community gardens and a sustainable food infrastructure – including an aquaponic tilapia farm — in the Sulphur Springs area of Tampa.
Feeding America Tampa Bay, which will partner with Goodwill Suncoast and the Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally Association to establish a mobile grocery to bring fresh produce and low-cost staples to low-income neighborhoods through the region.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the collaboration and creative thinking that went into these proposals,” said Marlene Spalten, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. “We wanted to offer nonprofits an incentive to think in new ways and to work together because we were sure there were creative solutions to age-old issues that just needed a catalyst. The nonprofits exceeded our expectations. We’re thrilled that all three of these exciting projects can go forward.”
The three winners were chosen from more than two dozen proposals from throughout the four-county area served by the Foundation.
A Path of Hope: Lighting the Way Out of Homelessness Using Mental Health Supports
Directions for Living will partner with the Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP) and Catholic Charities’ Pinellas Hope to provide behavioral health services to the homeless at the shelters each group operates in Pinellas County. About 2,000 homeless men, women and children are served by the groups each year, and about 800 of those are likely to have a behavioral health need that impacts their ability to find work and provide for their basic needs.
Access to mental health and substance abuse services can be difficult for the homeless, who may have challenges finding transportation and access to the healthcare system. This project will provide a shared Licensed Clinical Social Worker who will work at each site two to three days per week, providing one-on-one counseling and group therapy sessions.
“It was a natural fit to bring all of these agencies together,” said April Lott, President and CEO of Directions for LIving. “Even before we heard about the Big Idea Grant, we were excited to find a way to provide services to individuals seeing support at HEP and Pinellas Hope. The grant will allow us to formalize this connection within our continuum of care.”
For more information on this project, contact Karen Yatchum, Chief Operating Officer at Directions for Living at 727.524.4464 or email@example.com. To learn more about Directions for Living, go to www.directionsforliving.org.
Family Learning Gardens
MORE Health has been working in the Sulphur Springs area of Tampa for years to provide health and nutrition information and services. One of the big problems the neighborhood faces is a lack of a supermarket or other source of fresh fruits and vegetables, said Carlene Lemaster, operations manager. The lack of good food leads to health issues, including poor vision in children.
MORE Health will partner with Tampa Bay Harvest to establish four community learning gardens. Three will be traditional “dirt” gardens, two at the Boys & Girls Clubs in the area and one near Layla’s House, an early childhood development community center. The fourth will be an aquaponic garden/tilapia farm at All Nation’s Church.
Besides providing a source of food, the four gardens will be a hands-on education lab, Lemaster said, where children and adults can learn how to grow food in their own homes and the value of fresh food products.
“We would love to see a whole community with backyard gardens in their homes,” Lemaster said. “Better food makes a healthier community.”
For more information on this project, contact Karen Pesce Buckenheimer at 813.289.5032 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about MORE Health, go to www.morehealthinc.org.
On A Roll Groceries: Nourishing Neighbors in Need
According to Feeding America Tampa Bay, a large number of the working poor in the area live in “food deserts,” neighborhoods without a supermarket that are dependent on convenience stores. Most have the facilities to cook, just not access to fresh food and low-cost staples.
Feeding America Tampa Bay will partner with Goodwill Suncoast to establish a mobile grocery; the Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally Association will provide consulting and expertise on the proper vehicle and setup.
Increasingly, the surplus food that comes into Feeding America Tampa Bay for distribution is perishable, so the truck will give the organization another means to get those perishable items to those in need faster. It expects to distribute an additional 162,000 pounds of food with the vehicle.
As part of the project, Goodwill clients will receive job training at Feeding America Tampa Bay and will work on the mobile grocery.
“This grant allows us another way to connect food to those who need it as we work to eliminate hunger in the Tampa Bay area,” said Thomas Mantz, executive director of Feeding America Tampa Bay. “At the same time, we can serve the needs of the clients at Goodwill Suncoast, who can help others while they learn skills to carry them to regular employment.”
For more information, contact Thomas Mantz at 813.254.1190 or email@example.com. To learn more about Feeding America Tampa Bay, go to www.feedingamericatampabay.org.