Community Foundation gives $257,000 in grants to 21 groups

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington is awarding $257,000 in grants to 21 nonprofit organizations and schools in the region.

The money will be distributed through the foundation's Community Giving Fund, the Cowlitz County Community Fund and the Youth Philanthropy Fund.

"It is a tough time for most nonprofits and it is increasingly difficult to obtain grants," said Rick Melching, president of the Community Foundation. "We had about $800,000 in requests. We are pleased that we were able to do what we could, but regret that we couldn't do more."

The Community Giving Fund, which supports a broad range of organizations and programs, granted a total of $199,500 to: Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington; Clark County Safety First; Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program; Community Home Health & Hospice; Daybreak Youth Services; Dress for Success; Incight; Loaves & Fishes Centers; Medical Teams International; Mosaic Arts Alliance; New Day Community Dental Clinic; Parks Foundation of Clark County; ROCKSOLID Community Teen Center; Second Step Housing; Share; and YWCA Clark County.

Grants are awarded by a committee of board and community members, based on local needs.

The Community Giving Fund has distributed more than $3 million in grants since its inception in 1998.

The Youth Philanthropy Fund gives local high school students the opportunity to research, interview and fund local nonprofits that address issues affecting other teens.

Through the process, the students immerse themselves in the nonprofit environment -- even volunteering for some of the organizations that apply for grants.

Anne Digenis, donor services and grants officer, said it gives them an in-depth look at operating a nonprofit organization.

"More importantly, it ignites their philanthropic spirit with the joy of awarding impactful grants that they have a personal connection to," Digenis, who oversees the program, said in a news release.

The Youth Philanthropy Fund granted a total of $15,000 to: Daybreak Youth Services; Janus Youth Programs; ROCKSOLID Community Teen Center; and Share.

The Cowlitz County Community Fund distributed a total of $42,500 to: Columbia Theatre Association for the Performing Arts; Community Health Partners; Community Home Health & Hospice; Cowlitz County CASA; Janus Youth Programs; Life Works; Lower Columbia College Head Start; Lower Columbia Community Action Program; Pathways 2020; and Southwest Washington Symphony.

Established in 1984, the Community Foundation is a tax-exempt, public charity that holds more than 270 distinct funds. Ranging in size from $10,000 to nearly $6 million, they are pooled, managed and invested to generate growth and income for funding grants.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://www.twitter.com/col_history;tom.vogt@columbian.com.