Berrien Community Foundation is awarding more than $137,000 in For Good Grants to bring new and exciting programs to meet the needs in Berrien County.
“Each round of For Good Grants means there are more Good projects being funded in our communities,” said BCF President Lisa Cripps-Downey. “This is the community's foundation. Grants were awarded to help all over Berrien County in so many different ways. These projects will build up local communities and make this a better place to live, work and play.”
Projects focusing on creating a centralized area that provides basic needs and financial literacy are just two of the 31 projects in the fall cycle of For Good Grants.
The For Good Grant to New Heights CCDA dramatically reduces the gap in funding a new community center with a laundry facility in Benton Heights.
“The laundromat is only a small piece of what we’re doing,” said New Heights Executive Director Chris Britton. “It’s a community resource center that has laundry as one of its features. One of the big things for me is that we are creating a physical area for local human services where the people can come and connect with those who are using the laundromat. Right now there is no access to these types of resources in Benton Heights.”
The center will be located near the intersection of Red Arrow Highway and Euclid Avenue, and will offer services such as financial coaching, career services and health consultations.
“I’m super grateful for receiving this grant and, honestly, all that Berrien Community Foundation does for this community,” Britton added. “We couldn’t do this without the support BCF provides. I feel like our community foundation has a heart for the community and really serves the community well by supporting people that are doing good things.”
Kids at two Harbor Country schools will receive birthday books thanks to a For Good Grant, too.
“One of our goals at Harbor Country Rotary is to promote literacy and a love of reading,” said Rotary Executive Director Tom Rosenbluth. “For a number of years, we’ve funded a birthday book for every student in grades K-5 in the River Valley and New Buffalo school districts.”
Sometimes this is a student’s first book that belongs wholly to them, Rosenbluth said. Another one of their book programs is the one book/one school campaign that builds excitement around a mystery book.
“It’s a lovely thing to see — the kids get so excited about reading and proud to have their books,” Rosenbluth added. “And that, in turn, increases literacy.”
Another For Good Grant is supporting Summit Financial Wellness in carrying out their mission of enabling every person with skills and resources they need to achieve and maintain financial stability.
“The need for financial education is great right now,” said Summit Financial Wellness Executive Director Barbara Sistrunk. “People are struggling financially in our community. Our services are critical to helping them become good stewards over their personal finances, build their financial confidence and achieve their financial goals. And that is something that happens right here through workshops and one-on-one coaching.”
The For Good Grant is allowing the Benton Harbor nonprofit to bring aboard an AmeriCorps member to expand offerings, frequency of workshops and be another cheerleader to reach more people in the area.
“I’m super excited about the partnership with Berrien Community Foundation, who has a long history of providing resources to our community,” Sistrunk added. “I’m happy they’ve found Summit Financial Wellness to be a worthy partner to support financial literacy in our community.”
Community volunteers reviewed all grant applications as requests covered a broad range of community needs including the arts, children, community development, education, environment, health, seniors, and youth leadership and development. Also reviewing grants is T.E.A.M. (Teens Exhibiting Able Minds), the youth advisory committee for BCF, which is made up of high school students from across Berrien County.
For Good Grants recipients are:
- African American History and Literature Gallery — to install monuments in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph.
- Benton Harbor DDA — to assist in the annual Holiday Lights Celebration at Dwight Pete Mitchell City Center Park.
- Benton Harbor Public Library — to purchase a new bike rack, hire an artist to paint a mural and purchase bike safety equipment for patrons.
- Berrien Artist Guild at the Box Factory for the Arts — to replace damaged windows.
- Berrien County Cancer Service — to decrease barriers to get treatment, increase access to health care and provide a positive environment for healing.
- Berrien Families Plus, Inc. — to fund family reunification gift basket program.
- Berrien Springs Community Library — to purchase learning Launchpads.
- Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor — to install four filtered water refill stations at the youth and teen center.
- Children’s Music Workshop — to purchase a trailer to move sets and costumes.
- Cycle-Re-Cycle — to help bring on a contracted coordinator to help with volunteer recruitment, social media and outreach.
- First Tee – Benton Harbor — to provide fitness education and activities.
- Friends of Berrien County Animal Control — to purchase rabies vaccines.
- Girls on the Run — to support program scholarships.
- Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana — to provide Girl Scouts with leadership experiences.
- Harbor Country Rotary Foundation — to purchase books for children and families within the River Valley and New Buffalo school districts.
- Hope Resources —to purchase crock pots and conduct cooking classes for clients.
- Krasl Art Center — to bring and place professional artists’ sculptures in publicly accessible spaces.
- LOGAN Community Resources — for community classes for adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder.
- Lory’s Place — to provide an all-access grief education opportunity for students at F.C. Reed Middle School.
- New Buffalo Railroad Museum — to help with the ongoing veterans project display.
- New Heights CCDA — to build a laundry hub in Benton Harbor.
- North Berrien County Historical Museum — to purchase 500 gingerbread house kits to promote community unity.
- OutCenter of Southwest Michigan — to improve the lives of elder LGBTQ+ adults by building awareness and promoting change.
- Renaissance Enterprises — to bring quality music programs to the elderly and those living in assisted homes.
- School of American Music — to provide scholarships to students who need them.
- Summit Financial Wellness — to provide financial literacy services throughout Berrien County.
- Well of Grace Ministries — to increase the number of women reached through therapy groups.
- Women’s Care Center — to cover expenses in parenting class curriculum.
For Good Grants awarded by T.E.A.M.
- Benton Harbor Community Development Corporation — to service more youth with the 400 B.L.A.C.K. Mentoring Program.
- Berrien County Blanket Brigade — to make fleece blankets for hospice patients.
- Big Brothers Big Sisters Southern Lake Michigan Region — to expand services to at-risk youth.
There are two grant cycles for For Good Grants; Applications for the next round are due by February 25, 2022.