The Gerber Foundation awards $130,000 to local West Michigan youth programs
The Gerber Foundation recently announced the results of its spring grant round for West Michigan Youth Programs. Thirty one grants were awarded totaling over $130,000, to various nonprofit community organizations in West Michigan for programs serving youth in Newaygo, Muskegon, Oceana, and Lake Counties. The majority of projects focused on education (including STEAM), health and nutrition, early childhood literacy, and life experiences.
Among the recipients:
A grant of $9,856 was awarded to FIRST in Michigan to implement the FIRST Discover Lego League Program in four pre-K classrooms in Newaygo County. “With the adoption of the FIRST Lego League Discover Program for pre-K classrooms, Newaygo County now has a FIRST program at every grade level,” said Catherine Obits, The Gerber Foundation Program Manager. “The Discover program introduces STEM concepts (foundational math and science concepts, analytical thinking and confidence) using LEGOs and the curriculum is aligned to national education standards.” The other FIRST programs include: FIRST Robotics at the high school, First Tech Challenge at the middle school, and FIRST Challenge and Explore Lego Leagues at the elementary grades.
The Newaygo Conservation District was awarded $8,400 for school field trip transportation expenses in support of the Hands on Science Exploration: Nature is Our Educator program. Local school children of all ages are bussed to the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center (KFEC) for hands-on science exploration and learning. “It’s hard to express our gratitude for the tremendous support given to the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center over the years'' said Ned Hughes, President of the KFEC Board. “The transportation of students to the KFEC continues to be the most significant financial hurdle for all the schools, and this grant will ease that burden.”
A grant of $5,330 was awarded to the Fremont Public schools to revitalize the Pine Street Community Garden located behind the Packer Pride Day Care Center. “This was a unique opportunity to support collaboration between the Day Care Center and the Sow and Grow 4-H club,” stated Catherine Obits, Program Manager, The Gerber Foundation. “Members of the Sow and Grow 4-H club maintain the gardens and produce is donated to local food pantries with some being entered in the Newaygo County Agricultural Fair. At the same time, children at the day care are afforded the opportunity to use the planting beds to learn about growing flowers and plants.”
Additional grants focused on education and STEAM activities included: Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes ($8,000) for financial literacy education to Newaygo County elementary students; Bellwether Harbor Animal Shelter and Training Center ($3,000) for the summer Pet Pals education program and in-school Dog Bite Prevention for preschool and elementary children; and Newaygo County 4-H Council ($2,000) for the Discover 4-H! Discover You! STEAM Educational programs.
Grant awards to organizations supporting health and nutrition included:
The Christian Healthcare Centers in Newaygo ($11,600 provided from the FACF Health Care Fund) for the purchase of pediatric medical equipment for infant and child health care. “We are very grateful for this support and appreciate the Foundation’s focus on improving the health and wellness of children in Newaygo and adjacent counties”, said Mark Blocher, President and CEO, Christian Healthcare Centers.
Newaygo County Great Start Baby Pantry ($2,000) for the purchase of diapers, wipes and creams. The Newaygo County Great Start coalition opened a baby pantry in January 2021, to meet emergency baby resource (diapers, formula, food, etc.) needs. “The most demonstrated need by families that have visited the pantry are diapers and wipes”, said Christina Yuhasz, Newaygo County Great Start Parent Liaison and trusted advisor with Family Information Service Hub (FISH). “This grant will support the purchase of over 5,000 diapers and 300 packs of wipes enabling us to provide emergency diapering needs to over 200 children in Newaygo County!”
Stony Lake Therapeutic Riding Center in New Era ($3,535) for student scholarships for children with physical, mental, social and emotional challenges to participate in equine therapy programs.
Migrant Legal Aid ($5,000) for pesticide exposure health education to migrant families and their children in Oceana County.
Three grants were awarded to organizations supporting child literacy: the Hart Area Public Library received $2,000 to expand their preschool story hour and early childhood literacy outreach programs; the Fremont Area District Library received $7,702 to purchase and install two family workstation carrels for use by adults that visit the library with toddlers; and the Fremont Public elementary school received $5,000 to support a family literacy and activity night.
Several grants were again made to various camps for summer camp scholarships, including American Diabetes Association, Camp Midicha; YMCA Camp Pinewood; Harbor Hospice Camp Courage; Lake County Rose Lake Youth Camp; North Star Reach camp for children with serious health challenges; and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. Additional youth program support went to Grant Public Schools for Rally Cap Summer Outreach program, Arbor Circle Total Trek Quest and group based programming, Gerald R. Ford Council, Boy Scouts of America for scout outreach, Holton United Methodist Church for back to school supply program, the Muskegon Mount Zion Church of God in Christ for Club 188 Academy of Arts and Academics summer day camp experience, and to the Newaygo County 4-H Council to purchase archery equipment for the youth Archery Program and to provide for 4-H Exploration Days transportation expenses.
More information about the Foundation’s grantmaking, focus areas and application process is available online at https://www.gerberfoundation.org/west-michigan-grants-youth-services/. Grant application deadlines for West Michigan grants are March and September 15 of each year. The grant application portal can be found at: https://www.gerberfoundation.smartsimple.com.