July 29, 2021
UWKV awards $45K to promote community innovation
AUGUSTA—United Way of Kennebec Valley (UWKV) invested $45,000 to advance two innovative nonprofit programs in the Kennebec Valley on Wednesday. The Innovation Fund—established in 2021 and supported by UWKV contributors—launches new, creative solutions and approaches that will lead to breakthroughs in UWKV priority areas and help redesign the future of the Kennebec Valley.
"The entire community benefits when nonprofits can be responsive to evolving needs," said Courtney Yeager, executive director of UWKV. "In the wake of the pandemic, United Way and its board of directors wanted to do our part to encourage regional partnerships as the community strives to address unmet needs." The two selected recipients address entrenched issues with novel solutions that are more effective, efficient and collaborative than current solutions.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine—in partnership with Sylvio J. Gilbert Elementary School and the Augusta Police Department—has been awarded $30,000 for its Bigs with Badges program. This program aims to prevent children from seeing law enforcement as an adversary by connecting youth (Littles) with law enforcement officers and first responders (Bigs) to build lasting relationships through one-on-one mentoring. The result impacts the lives of children facing adversity by fostering strong bonds founded on trust and understanding. Bigs with Badges is the first program of its kind not only in the Kennebec Valley but in the state of Maine.
“We are incredibly honored and excited to be a recipient of UWKV's Innovation Grant,” BBBS of Mid-Maine Executive Director Gwendolyn Hudson said. “Through a collaborative partnership with Gilbert Elementary School, Augusta Police Department, and UWKV, our new “Bigs with Badges” program--the first of its kind in Maine--will match police and other mentors in law-enforcement with children, creating positive, one-to-one friendships that will no doubt ignite the power and promise of local youth.”
The second recipient, Healthy Communities of the Capital Area (HCCA), responds to the needs of LGBTQ+ youth in Kennebec Valley by establishing a LGBTQ+ Youth Experience Summer Supports (LGBTQ+ YeSS) program. HCCA was awarded $15,000 from the Innovation Fund. The LGBTQ+ YeSS program will provide a safe, supportive environment for youth programming beginning in the summer of 2022. Not only does this project create a supportive network between youth-serving entities, but it is also a primary prevention project as it increases the protective factors of LGBTQ+ youth and reduces risk factors that are correlated with substance use, depression, and anxiety.
"HCCA is excited to partner with UWKV to support the launch of the YeSS Network," said Renee Page, executive director of HCCA. "Support for this initiative will respond to the needs of LGBTQ+ youth in southern Kennebec County by raising cultural awareness, providing parent supports, and engaging several community partners to create welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ youth."
The review process included a written funding application and final presentation to the Fund's decision-making committee. Both grants cover a one-year period. Members of the committee included: Amanda Cooley, Kennebec Savings Bank; Sue Grenier, G&E Roofing; Maria Hays, Central Maine Community College; Joe Lajoie, Lajoie Brothers; Mary Morris, NRF Distributors; Soo Parkhurst, O&P Glass; Michael Tardiff, J.S. McCarthy Printers; Chris Voynik, Laflin & Wolfington; and Lisa Woodman, WIPFLi.
"UWKV is proud to support these two organizations with the time and resources to test innovative approaches and expand services to more people in need," Yeager said.
For more information, visit uwkv.org/Innovation.
Categories: News | Tags: | Posted by: Mboyer
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