Tulsa Area United Way Awards Seven Venture Grants
Venture Grants provide initial funding for innovative projects in the community.
A "coffee bunker" that offers support and resources for military service members and veterans, a community garden to provide healthy food to elementary school students and their families and dental services for homeless and indigent clients are among projects recently awarded venture grants.
The Board of Directors approved $275,000 in venture grants to fund seven innovative projects offered by area non-profit organizations.
"We are committed to finding innovative solutions to challenges in our community," said Mark Graham, President and CEO. "Our Venture Grant Program is an opportunity to pursue new and unique approaches to overcoming difficult challenges in the Tulsa area."
The projects were awarded funding after receiving the recommendation of the all-volunteer Venture Grants Committee and Community Investments Cabinet, which reviewed 17 applications. In addition to United Way support, all projects have received careful scrutiny and significant funding from other sources.
The venture grants include $35,000 for SOS: Serving our Servicemembers to establish a resource center for veterans as well as those presently serving in the military; $40,000 for Crosstown Learning Center to offer an early intervention program for children at risk of autism; $30,000 to Family and Children's Services for an on-site legal aid program; $38,000 to the Foundation for Oklahoma State University Medical Center for its new Senior Behavioral Medicine Unit; $25,000 to Global Gardens to create a community garden for elementary school students and their families; $75,000 for Morton Comprehensive Health Services to establish a dental program for homeless and indigent clients; and $32,000 for the Okmulgee County Family Resource Center to develop a career development program for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Through its Coffee Bunker program, SOS: Serving Our Servicemembers will assist veterans in reintegrating with their families and communities, offer referrals to mental health resources and help address problems faced by returning service members, including unemployment, suicide and substance addiction. The program is temporarily located at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Tulsa.
Crosstown Learning Center's Early Foundations Program is an intensive early intervention program for children at risk for autism, focused on improving core symptoms of autism and providing children access to typical childhood activities with their peers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates than one in 88 children suffer from autism spectrum disorder.
Family and Children's Services, in partnership with Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, will provide legal assistance for economically disadvantaged residents by embedding a legal aid attorney on site at its Sarah and John Graves Center, as well as an externship program through the University of Tulsa College of Law.
The OSU Medical Center will open a 24-bed inpatient geriatric behavioral medicine unit in July 2013. The unit will serve senior citizens experiencing psychiatric disorders that require hospitalization. The United Way venture grant will help fund the salary and benefits of a licensed recreational therapist at the facility.
Global Gardens will establish a Family Food Farm to provide fresh, nutritious food to more than 650 students and their families at Rosa Parks Elementary School. Families will have the opportunity to establish and tend their own plots in the garden. Many of the students who will benefit from the program qualify for free or reduced lunches as well as weekend backpack programs.
Morton Comprehensive Health Services, the largest federally qualified health center in northeast Oklahoma, will provide dental services one and a half days a week at its Midtown Health Center for homeless and indigent clients at the Salvation Army's Center of Hope. The grant will help expand dental services to an additional 276 homeless patients during the next 18 months.
The Okmulgee County Family Resource Center will receive support for its Safehouse Career Track program that assists women who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault enroll in college or find jobs. The Career Track program establishes relationships with area employers, assists women in enrolling in college or vocational technical schools and offers a clothes closet for job interviews. The center plans to serve between 100 to 150 individuals during the grant period.