12 nonprofits seeking $83K in city grants


By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Twelve nonprofit organizations are asking City Council for more than $83,000 in Community Support Grants this year — more than twice the $38,000 the city has to award.

Representatives from the groups made their requests for grant funding directly to City Council at a special meeting last week.

Councilors could discuss the grant requests as early as Thursday at the next scheduled meeting of the city’s finance committee. If the committee reaches agreement, then a public hearing to consider awarding the grants could be held at council’s Oct. 28 meeting. A date announcing the final awards has not been set.

This year’s largest request came from iEmpower, which is seeking $13,200 — more than a third of the entire Community Support Grant fund. iEmpower is a nonprofit that encourages education, leadership and community service among area youth and their families, said Ashley Mitchell, one of the group’s co-founders. It provides tutoring and internship services for youth, among other services.

Mitchell explained that iEmpower would use the funds toward the costs associated with expanding its annual leadership conference to two weeks. Last year’s conference was just a week long but was a success with the young participants, she said.

River City Community Development Corp. said it’s asking for $12,000 to help low- to moderate-income residents purchase affordable housing.

Carolyn Anderson, RCCDC’s housing counselor, said the funds would be used to provide home-buying educational opportunities, budget, credit and pre-purchase counseling services, financial literacy training, among other services. The nonprofit’s goal this year is to assist 125 residents with those services, she said.

Arts of the Albemarle is seeking $11,500 for two projects. The first request is for $6,000 to expand AoA’s monthly live jazz music series from six months to 12 months. The funds would be used toward paying the professional musicians who perform and for marketing.

AoA also is seeking another $5,500 to create a new youth theater program called Rising Star Academy. The program would provide free-of-charge theater opportunities to under-served children, AoA officials said. The funds would provide free tuition to 18 students interested in theater and classes would be held January through May. The program would conclude with a free public performance by the students.

Other agencies seeking Community Support Grants this year include:

Kids First Inc., which is asking for $10,000, to support its advocacy for abused children. Kids First provides forensic interviews, medical evaluations, trauma therapy, among other services to abused children.

“We’re promising them outcomes and futures that are impacted not by trauma, but futures that are impacted by healing,” Kids First Executive Director Rhonda Morris told council. “We owe them that.”

Morris reiterated her organization’s need for funding, saying Kids First has lost revenue sources “left and right” in the past two years.

Elizabeth City State University Foundation, which is seeking $10,000 to support its CHAMPION Scholars Program, which is aimed at improving male student retention. CHAMPION stands for Character Hustle Awareness to Manage Prosperity and Impact Opportunity through Necessity. The pilot program is currently serving nearly 30 male ECSU freshmen.

Encore Theater Company, which is asking for $5,800 to help pay for an artist-in-residence to perform the lead role in Encore’s April production of the musical, “Cotton Patch Gospel.” Tina Vance, Encore’s vice president, said the musical features bluegrass gospel and tells the story of the life of Jesus Christ set in modern day rural Georgia.

“While the location and the style of the language is different, it does remain true to the Biblical account set out in the book of Mathew,” she said.

The show would feature six performances and the grant would also be used to pay the musicians.

Albemarle Family YMCA, which is requesting $5,000 to provide free swimming lessons to 100 Elizabeth City kindergartners.

Boys and Girls Club, which is asking for $5,000 for in-kind city electric utility services.

Dream Hunt and Fishing Foundation, which is asking for $3,680, to help support the “wish-granting” organization’s mission of providing free fishing and hunting opportunities to terminally ill children, children with disabilities, at-risk youth and wounded veterans.

SOULS Feeding Ministry, which is requesting $3,500, to make improvements to the organization’s current facility in the old band room of the former Elizabeth City Middle School on Elizabeth Street.

Habitat for Humanity, which is seeking $1,945, to help provide lunches for home construction volunteers. It takes about six months to complete a new house, said Jane Elfring, president of the local Habitat for Humanity.

“So, there’s a lot of lunches involved there,” she said.

Habitat also asked for an additional $55 to purchase more Habitat for Humanity home applications.

Mid-Atlantic Christian University, which is asking for $1,500, to help fund a project known as ACEs, or Adverse Childhood Experiences study, for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is the largest study to prove that childhood trauma affects health and well being later in life, including high rates of depression, mental health, heart and lung disease, and even early death,” said Jay Banks, MACU’s vice president for student life.

The MACU program will include students’ work in biology, bio-psychology, early education, counseling and ministry in Elizabeth City, Banks said.

“We believe that working with the ACEs framework can better our community,” he told council.

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