By: Maury Harris

Vancouver, Wash., July 23, 2020 — The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington recently awarded its first set of 2020 Focus Grants and is accepting applications for its second cycle of funding through Monday, August 31.

In total, 22 organizations serving southwest Washington residents benefited from $501,862 in funding during the first Focus Grants cycle. The organization’s Focus Grants work to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty in southwest Washington through three impact areas: basic human needs, educational attainment and asset building.

Clark County

Grants directed to Clark County organizations totaled $351,862. Some are supporting basic human needs like the mental and behavioral health services provided through Family Solutions. This organization will put its grant to work serving youth and families who are unable to access care as a result of being uninsured or underinsured. Family Solutions anticipates an increasing need among these families over the next few months due to stress and triggers resulting from the ongoing pandemic.

Ready to Rise received a grant to encourage educational attainment among first generation college students and other historically marginalized communities. In 2020, the organization plans to engage 120 high school seniors in a cohort-based program that helps these students navigate the transition to college or university learning and life. The program provides peer mentorship, leadership training, financial literacy resources and training, career exploration, professional networking and resume writing.

The Technical Assistance Program operated by the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber received funds for asset building within the Latino community. This program aims to increase business revenue and long-term wealth for participants by creating sustainable and successful economic opportunity. Approximately 90 people will receive personal counseling around topics such as accounting, labor regulations, financial literacy and credit repair. Additionally, the organization will organize events for the broader community.

Cowlitz County

Grants directed to Cowlitz County organizations totaled $146,613. Some are supporting basic human needs through programs like Severe Weather Shelter operated by the Kelso-Longview Ministerial Association. Last winter, the organization’s initial effort provided cold-weather emergency shelter to 130 adults experiencing homelessness and served an average of 46 people per night of operation. The association will use the funding for operational costs, which include hiring a full-time shelter manager and expenses related to security and supplies.

Longview Public Schools received a grant for its Family & Community Resource Center, which supports educational attainment among low-income students. The funding will allow this year-old program to continue meeting emergency student needs with resources like food, clothing, school supplies and hygiene items. In addition, it will support the hire of a part-time receptionist and volunteer coordinator to better serve families experiencing poverty, homelessness and other major barriers to student learning.

Another grant will allow Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Legal Aid to make its Equity and Justice Community Coordinator position permanent. This position sustains asset building work by coordinating legal support that reduces court fees and fines for people experiencing poverty and those from underserved communities. Funds will also expand attorney capacity in preparation for an expected surge in need for legal help as local courts resume eviction, garnishment and family law cases.

Skamania County

Grants directed to Skamania County organizations totaled $47,000. One is supporting Comunidades, a new collaborative made up of Latino educators, activists, parents, and students. This grassroots group aims to advance environmental and social justice through educational training, public awareness, youth mentorship, and community organizing. Grant funds will support a paid coordinator, as well as outreach and training efforts in Skamania County aiming to grow its activists to 100 residents.

“Our hope is that these grants allow all people in southwest Washington to access and benefit from the prosperity of our region,” Jennifer Rhoads, President of the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, said. “Only then will we unlock the true potential of a vibrant and engaged community.”

The Community Foundation has opened its second funding cycle for the 2020 Focus Grants program. Awards for cycle two will be announced in December. Organizations seeking grants can apply online. Additional questions can be emailed to [email protected].

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About The Author

Maury Harris

Maury Harris crafts key messages that promote the foundation’s products, services and brand. Outside of stringing words together, he is passionate about the natural world and tries to hit the trail as much as possible with his family.