Local Service Clubs Awarded $140,000 to Help People in Poverty
The Community Foundation of NCW and the United Way of Chelan-Douglas Counties have awarded $140,000 to seven Service Clubs who are developing programs to break the cycle of generational poverty.
The “Be the Change” grant program invited Service Clubs the opportunity to establish programs that could help change the lives of those living in poverty in their communities.
“The funding for ‘Be the Change’ came from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who wanted us to strengthen our communities and address generational poverty” said Denise Sorom, the foundation’s director of community philanthropy.
“After some thought, we realized that Service Clubs are the perfect organizations for this challenge with their corps of volunteers who already care deeply for the community they serve.”
Each of the awarded programs includes a relationship-based response to poverty with Service Club members serving as mentors to those who are stuck in the cycle of poverty.
Several programs focus on High School students, providing the tools to help them graduate and go on to college or gain meaningful employment.
Other programs focus on families in poverty, letting them know there is a way out and the steps they need to take to break the cycle.
The following Service Clubs each received a $20,000 grant that will cover two years of “Be the Change” programming:
- East Wenatchee Rotary will receive mentoring and poverty awareness training to better understand the culture of poverty and will develop mentoring relationships with students at Eastmont Alternative High School. They will also provide scholarship awards to graduates seeking post-secondary education.
- Junior Service League Wenatchee (JSLW) is partnering with “Jobs for Washington’s Graduates” to prevent dropout for at-risk teens and help them with tools to enter the workforce. JSLW members will mentor students through resume writing, mock interviews, and job shadowing opportunities. The program will serve roughly 20 students in its first year and 40 in its second.
- Leavenworth Rotary will be working with Icicle River Middle School students impacted by the cycle of poverty through an “Interact Program” that will allow selected 8th graders to participate in a community service “Legacy Project”. The students will be paired with Rotarian mentors and will be assigned to manage an aspect of the project – such as project management, budget, public relations – to help them develop skills and confidence in achievement. Eight students who demonstrate the most growth will attend a 5-day leadership experience at Teton Science School in Jackson, Wyoming, that will help them develop tools and hone their skills to successfully launch their legacy project.
- Okanogan/Omak Rotary will implement the “Getting Ahead” program that focuses on building relationships with families in poverty, understanding their issues, and helping them find solutions. One representative from ten families will participate in a 16-week session in a safe space where they can make connections with others, investigate differing social norms in the community, discuss how they are affected by poverty, and learn the resources available to them. Each family representative creates a personal goal, determines a community problem to solve, creates an action plan, and is partnered with a Rotarian to help meet their goals.
- Wenatchee Downtown Kiwanis will implement a program called “Opportunity Community” that will focus on academic, social, and behavioral improvements for families with children. This program engages the entire community to participate through awareness education, becoming mentors, and helping build on the strengths of people to escape poverty and overcome existing barriers.
- Wenatchee Sunrise Rotary will enhance their Challenge Scholarship program that currently selects two at-risk high school sophomores and encourages them to graduate by providing two years of college tuition and 50% reimbursement of textbooks. The grant will enhance the mentorship aspect of the challenge, pairing Rotarians with 10 sophomores who will help support their goal to graduate. It will also provide funds to add an additional scholarship incentive for one more student.
- Winthrop Downtown Kiwanis will work with the Independent Learning Center (ILC), an alternative High School in Twisp. The grant will help to fund ILC programs, which are designed around self-study projects based on student interest and community based internships. Kiwanis members will serve as mentors to these students, and will also provide internships and practical experience. The grant will also support a Key Club at the ILC including Key Leadership weekends to develop important leadership skills.
The foundation’s “Be the Change” grant program was inspired by the work Dr. Donna Beegle who presented in Wenatchee last summer on the challenges and barriers of generational poverty. “Be the Change” grant applicants were highly encouraged to attend this event, where they received a better understanding of the culture of poverty and successful models used to help break the cycle.