The Board of Directors of the South Madison Community Foundation, Inc. has spent the past 8 months studying and discussing the issues surrounding the communities we serve. While still in the discussion and investigation mode, we have come to the conclusion that we must take a leadership role of addressing the need for a well-educated community that in turn offers a better quality of life for all. The first step in this journey is our decision to suspend reactive grantmaking for the time being.
2011 marked the 18th year of grantmaking to the organizations that provide services to the residents of Lapel, Ingalls, Markleville and Pendleton. If you include scholarships awarded to local students and grants to organizations suggested by our donor advisors, that amounts to over $1.7 million returned to our communities for the support of the residents of our communities.
We feel strongly that those grant dollars have produced positive and sustainable change!
As we move forward into 2012 and beyond, South Madison Community Foundation is asking: how do we continue and even increase our "production" of change? What are the needs most prevalent in our communities and how can we cause the greatest positive impact?
After months of heartfelt and thoughtful conversations around the table, SMCF Board of Directors has “landed” on an initiative that will broadly be known as Educational Attainment.
The Foundation already supports a few initiatives that can be grouped under that heading; the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (a reading program for preschoolers), 21st Century Scholars recruitment (a post-secondary financial support program for eligible students), FAFSA Day and College Cost Estimator workshops (both support programs for college-bound students and their families) and over 65 scholarships awarded each year to youth and adults who wish to continue their education past high school.
But, we're missing some of the pieces.
What can we do to impact, with grant dollars, the need for children to be ready for school by five years old, the need for them to be reading at their grade level by third grade, the need for them to choose a career path before they reach high school, the need to graduate on time with the skills to prepare them for further education or the workforce, the need for underemployed adults to gain the extra education and skills needed to get better jobs?
Future grantmaking will take the form of proactive awards based on our issuance of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) addressing a particular focus area of educational attainment. Issues like school readiness, early literacy, parental involvement, career preparedness, alternatives to college, keeping students engaged throughout their high school years and/or raising the graduation rate will be the focus and the targeted areas through which we will seek and fund partnerships from the most knowledgeable and skilled people in our community. We will not be providing the programs per se, we will be supporting and funding the programs, whether they are tried-and-true methods or innovative, out of the box initiatives.
We need you to help us find those missing pieces. In the coming months we will be hosting community conversations around the topic of Educational Attainment-please join us as we expand the number of seats at the table. Contact our office for more information on how you can make your voice heard.
We do still oversee two reactive Grant Cycles for which you may qualify:
The South Madison and Lapel Community Youth Commissions offer funding opportunities to programs that support the youth in our communities. The Commissioners host fundraisers throughout the year to support their grantmaking. Grants are typically awarded to projects of $1000 or less. Deadline for application is 4:00pm February 1st.
Click here to download a Youth Commission Grant application.
Through our Women's Philanthropy group, Open Hearts Open Purses, one local organization is awarded $10,000 each year through a competitive grant process that includes a personal presentation to the members of the group at our June awards ceremony. Smaller awards are given to finalists not chosen as the winner. More than 100 women each contribute $100 to make these awards possible. The project must benefit the residents of Adams, Fall Creek, Green and/or Stony Creek townships-the organization need not be physically located in this area. Deadline for application is 4:00pm on May 1. Please contact lisa(at)southmadisonfoundation.org for more details.
While we at the Foundation understand the concern over scaling back the current policy of funding immediate needs, it is our belief that a well educated community is a goal that we as citizens all seek and a goal that has an impact far beyond our lifetimes-the goal of living in the best place among the best people ever! If you have further questions or concerns, please contact us.