BASIC NEEDS MINI GRANTS
2020 has brought new challenges for our community and we have adapted to best address these needs. While in many years we are pushing to move the needle in our fight against poverty, with the realities of COVID-19 and the economic hardship that it brings, this next year we are looking to stabilize those in Douglas County who are at risk. To begin 2021 we are providing local nonprofits with Basic Needs Mini Grants, which seek to support programs that are directly assisting individuals and families with the things they need to survive this difficult time. In the future we will likely shift back to a more aspirational approach, but flexibility is one of our greatest strengths, and we are utilizing it now for the benefit of our most vulnerable neighbors.
2021 BASIC NEEDS PARTNERS
Safety Net/Family Stabilization
The Ballard Center helps to address food insecurity and access to healthy for for vulnerable families through both an on-site food pantry and by sponsoring a Harvester’s mobile food pantry distribution site at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. Due to the COVID pandemic, on-site pantry services are being conducted by appointment which allows us to manage the number of people in the pantry at any one time assuring the safety of clients and staff alike. The pantry continues to be stocked through individual and church donations supplemented by weekly visits to Just Food to add perishable and non-perishable food. Efforts are made to stock foods to make a balanced meal of protein, carbohydrates and vegetables.
The mobile food pantry is held twice a month and has moved to a drive-thru distribution process that allows families to stay in their cars promoting social distancing. The distribution is run almost entirely by volunteers with assistance from Ballard’s AmeriCorps member and another staff member. Additional volunteers and health measures were put in place to safely distribute food at the site. In previous years, the summer months allowed for only one or no distributions due to scheduling conflicts with other activities at the Fairgrounds. With increased community need for supplemental foods, Ballard was able to successfully schedule consistent twice a month food distributions. We are currently negotiating with Douglas County Fairgrounds to continue this schedule into 2021.
Boys & Girls Club
This funding is designed to offer educational scholarships to youth that are living in poverty. This funding will make it possible for families to get jobs and to keep their jobs since their child(ren) will be taken care of during the after-school time. This programming is crucial to ensure that Douglas County families are able to access successful employment.
This funding will ensure that youth are able to participate in educational and enriching programming during the out-of-school time. The Boys & Girls Club focuses their programming on three priority outcomes; academic success, healthy lifestyles, and good character and citizenship.
Catholic Charities of Northeastern Kansas
Basic Needs Programming
Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas (CCNEK) operates a Family Support Center (FSC) in Lawrence. The FSC serves all residents of Douglas County. CCNEK requests grant funding for basic needs housing supports at our Lawrence FSC. CCNEK will provide short-term rental and utility assistance with the goal of keeping households stably housed and preventing evictions, homelessness and utility disconnections. The current pandemic has proven that homelessness is a public health crisis. Keeping households stably house is crucial to helping them maintain their health and safety. CCNEK has seen an increase in the number of households needing financial assistance to help them stay current on their rent and utilities. While eviction moratoriums are currently in place for households affected by COVID, they are set to expire at the end of the year, leaving hundreds of Douglas County households in danger of eviction and possibly even homelessness. CCNEK will work with Douglas County households to provide financial assistance coupled with wraparound case management services to help them remain stably housed and develop a plan to maintain housing in the future. Financial assistance will be determined based on each client's individualized needs. Case management services will include goal setting, financial education and referrals to additional CCNEK programs such as our Family Support Program, Kansas Loan Pool Program (refinances high-interest predatory loans at a 6.75% APR for eligible participants), or St. Rita's Educational and Career Advancement Programming. Our hope is that rental/utility assistance provided to households will help them alleviate the immediate presenting crisis, while also allowing CCNEK staff to engage them in longer-term supports to support them toward ongoing stability.
Communities in Schools Mid-America
In-School Support Programming
Students whose basic life needs are not met often succumb to despair and frustration, even though they are bright and fully capable of achieving in school. CIS of Mid-America works to eliminate this barrier for Kennedy Elementary School students and families (Kennedy).
When schools, businesses, and organizations closed their doors in May due to COVID-19, the need for food assistance in our community quickly increased. Students no longer had access to school meals and weekend food programs. Parents and guardians faced unemployment and difficulty purchasing food and other essential items. CIS of Mid-America reacted quickly to these new challenges, partnering with Kennedy to ensure students had access to breakfast and lunch, and families had enough to eat at home. Unfortunately, our community is still in the grips of this pandemic, and we continue to see an intensified need for food assistance.
To meet these needs, the Site Coordinator regularly checks in with her caseload families and receives basic needs referrals from Kennedy administration and staff. The Site Coordinator delivers bags of food and other essential items such as hygiene, cleaning, and remote learning supplies to homes. The packages are left on porches or front steps, and all in-person communication with students and families is done while maintaining social distance and with all parties wearing masks. Support from the United Way of Douglas County will allow CIS of Mid-America to meet the increased demand and will enable us to increase the amount of food each family receives. Additionally, this funding will be used to purchase grocery store gift cards, empowering families to make their own choices for meals, and return normalcy to their lives.
Eudora Schools Foundation
Basic Needs Programming
The Eudora Schools Foundation's Cardinals Care Fund was created to assist principals and
counselors in meeting urgent, immediate and basic necessities of Eudora students who are at or below the Federal Poverty Level or suffering from an immediate crisis. This program helps to ensure that the student's physical, social and emotional needs do not stand in the way of their success in school. The Cardinals Care Fund provides clothing, food, medical/prescription assistance, utility shut off assistance, transportation funding and other basic needs to these families. Currently, there are no other programs in Eudora to help fill these desperate needs of our students and their families.
The funds requested will be used to increase the distribution of healthy food in Douglas County. Just Food is projecting distributing 2,000,000 pounds of food in 2021. This is nearly twice the amount distributed in 2018. The distribution of food occurs at the Just Food main pantry as well through its extensive network of satellite food pantries, 30+ partner agencies, mobile food pantry distribution and home deliveries. Just Food’s satellite pantries include its cupboards. Just Food has 18 Classroom Cupboards in Douglas County, which are food pantries inside of area schools. Just Food’s Campus Cupboards are located at the University of Kansas and Haskell University, and the Care Cupboard is located at Heartland Community Health Center. Just Food also operates the Cruising Cupboard, a mobile food pantry that operates twice per week reaching all corners of Douglas County. In 2020, Just Food started a home delivery service to reach vulnerable populations at risk of COVID-19 and individuals with a lack of transportation or are homebound. Just Food anticipates completing 3,500 home deliveries by the end of 2021. Just Food helps supplement the food needs of over 30 Douglas County organizations, including Bert Nash Homeless Outreach, The Ballard Center, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, the Lawrence Community Shelter, Stull Food Pantry, the Baldwin Food Pantry, the Eudora Food Pantry and the Lecompton Food Pantry. Since the COVID- 19 Pandemic, Just Food has had to increase its food purchasing by 400% to keep up with the increase in demand.
Lawrence Community Shelter
Direct Assistance to Individuals Experiencing Homelessness
Lawrence Community Shelter maintains a fund for Direct Assistance to clients. These funds are expressly used to support the basic, medical, or housing needs of our clients. Uses for the fund include items as seemingly minor as gift cards for new shoes and clothes and fees for securing new identification or a birth certificate. We also support our clients by providing assistance paying for prescription and office visit co-pays. Finally, the fund pays for rental assistance and housing costs, such as security deposit and first month's rent. The fund has also paid for hotels for guests who need to isolate or quarantine due to COVID19.
Positive Bright Start
Child Care Tuition Scholarships
Positive Bright Start has operated early education tuition scholarship programs in Douglas County for nearly fifty years with funds from various sources. We offer a sliding scale scholarship to families with incomes up to 240% FPL. Once determined eligible, they can select from nine child care centers to use the scholarship. Each month the center bills Positive Bright Start for the scholarship and is paid the agreed upon amount for the scholarship. The family pays the difference in tuition as their family share. This provides some relief to the financial burden experienced by the family.
To assist the center and provide some measure of security to the families that their child will be ready to enter kindergarten ready to succeed, we facilitate instructional leadership peer learning meetings for the directors of our participating centers. This peer leadership experience utilizes the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses in teachers’ interactions with children in the classroom. This tool supports the director in her role of instructional leadership by providing data about the needs of her teachers. These findings can be used to develop professional development opportunities for the teachers based upon their specific needs that will enhance their skills in providing a quality classroom environment for the scholarship children, as well as all children. In addition to the CLASS assessments, the directors participate in a book study on a chosen topic to expand their knowledge of instructional leadership.
Over the past few years funding has been blended and braided from United Way of Douglas County, City of Lawrence, Early Childhood Block Grant, Douglas County Community Foundation Momentum Grant, American Family Insurance, and private fundraising including the St Patrick’s Day Parade and the Community Mercantile Change Program.
Community Meals Program
Our Sunrise Community Meal Program currently provides a weekly homecooked, nutritious and quality meal to 250+ people in our community. In addition to serving up to 220 dinners in our parking lot each Wednesday evening, we deliver 30-40 meals to those unable to pick up meals due to transportation and/or health barriers. Our menu is shaped by community feedback and responsive to the needs of our participants.
We are expanding on our meal program by matching community members with households so that families can share additional meals with one another on a weekly basis (or according to their need/desire). This meal matching program will not only provide a hot homecooked meal for a family, but will connect families in our community that would not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet one another. Lastly, our meal program is expanding to include participants in our community resource navigator project. Our AmeriCorps member Resource Navigator (Asha Reeder) will cook meals for those that utilize the navigator program. We know that a shared meal is an important way to connect and demonstrate care for someone.
Tenants To Homeowners
Housing Stabilization Collaborative Micoloans
1.) Forgivable Rent Assistance
This program is for renters who are experiencing a COVID-affected household income at or below 30% of Average Median Income (AMI) and a pre-COVID household income of no more than 80% of AMI.
2.) Rent Assistance Microloans
This program is for renters with a household income between 30-50% of AMI and a pre-COVID household income less than 80% AMI . Microloans are offered as an affordable alternative to " high interest predatory "Payday" loans. HSC microloans charge 1% interest. Interest from the loans is recycled back into the program to be offered to future applicants.
Funds are being requested to support the HSC Rent Assistance Microloan program.
Through CARES funding the HSC has significant funds dedicated to forgivable rent support. In recent months TTH has experienced an increased number of program applicants who are at risk of housing insecurity and are ineligible for the forgivable rent assistance.
We are seeking additional funds to meet the current and future need for low-interest microloans in our community.
Beyond COVID, the microloan program would continue to serve Douglas County's income eligible residents for emergency car repairs, medical bills, and other surprise financial needs that often lead to the use of predatory loans and/or compromised housing status. Microloans granted by TTH would be recycled indefinitely with each grant (avg. $1000 per grant) serving one household per year.