By: Maury Harris

This year, the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington Board of Directors approved more than a quarter of a million dollars in grant awards from the Community Giving Fund, a permanently endowed charitable fund dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Southwest Washington.

In total, the Foundation will distribute $256,523 to 21 nonprofit organizations and schools this year, which provide program support throughout the region. Grant award checks are being distributed over the coming months as each nonprofit recipient convenes for routine business, such as board or staff meetings.

This year marked the first round of Focus Grants from the Community Giving Fund, which allocated 80 percent of the Fund’s available grant dollars for larger grants (averaging $25,000) that more effectively address a specific area of concern. This year, the Community Foundation chose to target programs working to interrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty in Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania counties. Intergenerational poverty is an economic hardship characterized by families in which parents and children have lived in poverty and are more likely to transfer that poverty onto subsequent generations. This is unlike situational poverty, which occurs when a person loses wealth or income because of an event like death, illness, divorce or unemployment.

“The Focus Grants allow our organization to be more proactive and strategic at infusing charitable dollars back into our region,” Community Foundation President Jennifer Rhoads said. “By channeling the majority of our resources toward intergenerational poverty, we hope to inspire community philanthropy around a topic of growing concern.”

In targeting intergenerational poverty, the Foundation is also reinforcing a four-year, $700,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Over the next four years, the Foundation will be responsible for demonstrating progress toward reducing poverty in southwest Washington. Along the way, they hope to generate community awareness and coordinate local resources to address this persistent issue.

Recipients of 2013 Focus Grants are: Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington, Bridgeview Housing, Children’s Center, Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools, Partners in Careers, Sea Mar Community Health Center, Second Step Housing and Share.

In addition, grants from the Children’s Trust Fund and other individual fund holders, provided an additional $101,500 in support of the Foundation’s efforts to address intergenerational poverty issues. Information about more opportunities like these, to work in partnership with or support the Foundation’s intergenerational poverty initiative, can be obtained by calling their offices at (360) 694-2550 or emailing [email protected].

The remaining 20 percent of available grant dollars from the Community Giving Fund were distributed through the General Grants program, with awards reaching up to $5,000. These grants were made available to nonprofit organizations working to address a broad range of issues in Clark and Skamania counties.

Recipients of the 2013 General Grants are: Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation, Janus Youth Programs, Lifeline Connections, Meals on Wheels People, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Mosaic Arts Alliance, Northwest Association for Blind Athletes, Portland Youth Philharmonic, ROCKSOLID Community Teen Center, School of Piano Technology for the Blind, Wordstock and YWCA Clark County.

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