The Greater Holland/Zeeland area is experiencing a convergence of deep challenges that began simultaneously with little warning and no clear endpoint as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local philanthropy has a unique and valuable role in setting the stage for recovery.
The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area (CFHZ) established the COVID-19 Community Stabilization Fund and committed $200,000 from the Community’s Endowment. Generous individuals, families, and corporations also contributed to the fund, allowing CFHZ to raise $1 million to grant to local agencies serving vulnerable populations.
The Community Foundation has announced a series of recent grants from the Community Stabilization Fund, targeting three areas of prioritized investment:
- Financial stability, with an emphasis on basic needs, supports and prevents people from slipping into poverty.
- Health, targeted on increasing mental health and substance abuse services.
- Education, focused on mitigating the educational opportunity gap.
Conversations with local nonprofit agencies have illustrated the far-reaching impact COVID-19 has had on the community, according to Elizabeth Kidd, the foundation’s Vice President of Community Impact.
“Unfortunately, many people who were struggling to make ends meet prior to this pandemic have been disproportionately affected by these recent challenges. We know that these individuals need services right away, which is why we designed the Community Stabilization Fund to be flexible, swift at deploying resources, and targeted to work alongside the range of other supports that have come from public and private sources,” Kidd says.
Since June, $520,000 has been awarded from the fund. Here’s where it has been invested:
- $115,000 was granted to the Family Independence Initiative (FII) for a local Direct Cash Assistance program, which helps provide continued basic needs support.
- $150,000 was awarded to Good Samaritan Ministries (GSM) to prevent people from slipping into poverty through their Eviction Diversion Program. GSM recently received a federal grant to deliver services that will divert hundreds of local families from homelessness. The Community Stabilization Fund grant will assist in their efforts to scale-up capacity.
Additionally, $120,000 was awarded to the following agencies to help mitigate the education opportunity gap:
- $40,000 to Outdoor Discovery Center (ODC), in support of their partnership with Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, and Holland/Zeeland area districts, to provide schools and teachers with support, resources, and training on activating outdoor spaces and utilizing outdoor learning.
- $40,000 to Ready for School, to expand their summer kindergarten readiness program to continue into the fall in partnership with area schools.
- $25,000 to Children’s After School Achievement (CASA), to adapt their programming for the current school year.
- $15,000 to Family Hope Foundation, to assist local students with special needs and learning disabilities in regaining progress and milestones lost due to recent events.
Also, $135,000 was awarded to the following agencies to increase access to, and capacity for, mental health and substance abuse services:
- $30,000 to Ottagon Addictions Recovery (OAR), to hire an additional Masters-level clinician, which will increase their ability to provide outpatient addiction treatment by at least 250 additional individuals over the course of a year.
- $30,000 to Holland Free Health Clinic, to support increasing the hours of HFHC’s Mental Health Program Specialist staff member, who is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and continuing additional hours for their contracted licensed counselor. HFHC will have capacity to serve approximately 30 additional new clients.
- $30,000 to City on a Hill Ministries Health Clinic, to increase hours of their current counseling staff to immediately begin serving at least 10 more individuals per week for traditional counseling.
- $15,000 to Mosaic Counseling, to help ensure Mosaic is able to continue providing the School Outreach Program to Holland, West Ottawa, and Zeeland Public Schools students.
- $15,000 to Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holland, to add two part-time Youth Service Assistants to work with the staff social worker.
- $15,000 to Beacon of Hope, to increase hours for intake staff who field phone calls from people looking for help. Connecting a potential client with a live person who can assess and triage their needs the first time they call is critical.
Additional grants will be made through November to distribute the remaining $480,000. More information about these grants, and the Community Stabilization Fund can be found at cfhz.org/stablizationfund
Read more about the foundation's investment in the community:
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Elizabeth Kidd is the Vice President of Community Impact at the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area. Courtesy