FAIRMONT — In 1989, President George H.W. Bush established Community Foundation Week, as a way to recognize the work performed by different community foundations across the nation.
Morgantown-based Your Community Foundation of North Central West Virginia is commemorating this week by giving out more than $100,000 in grant money to local nonprofits, which cover a range of fields and missions.
“We have a grant cycle every year,” said Laurie Abildso, vice president of Your Community Foundation of North Central West Virginia. “Applications open in the summer and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply. We have a grant committee that reviews those applications and makes the determinations for awards.”
According to Abildso, the Foundation has grants available in categories including sexual assault and domestic violence and prevention of cruelty to animals. She said while nonprofits can get funding from a number of outside sources, Your Community Foundation aims to provide a base for a nonprofit to ensure it can remain funded for a long period of time.
“It’s really about building sustainability,” Abildso said. “With Your Community Foundation, we have endowment funds, and those are funds that get invested and grow over time, so it gives these nonprofits the opportunity to have some sustainable funds.”
This week, Your Community Foundation is awarding Read Aloud West Virginia with a $9,500 grant, which will be distributed to Marion, Harrison, Taylor and Preston counties to fund its mission of promoting youth literacy.
Dawn Miller, executive director of Read Aloud West Virginia, said the nonprofit started a Read Aloud Families program in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic this year, which has helped to encourage children to read for leisure.
“Read Aloud exists to motivate kids to read for fun,” Miller said. “Children who read for pleasure read more, and when they read more, it gives them more practice and they get better at it.”
Abildso said the grant committee of Your Community Foundation selects nonprofits that will impact people of the local community to receive grant money each year. Read Aloud West Virginia, she said, aims to help provide kids with reading material, and motivation to read for leisure, which is how the nonprofit was selected by Your Community Foundation.
“Read Aloud West Virginia is focusing their award on Harrison, Marion, Preston and Taylor counties,” Abildso said. “That program is a Read Aloud Families program, which puts book boxes into the homes of low-income families in those communities. So the funding they get is getting distributed, from my understanding, throughout those four counties.”
Read Aloud West Virginia promotes literacy through the providing of reading materials and motivators to read for leisure, Miller said. Through the grant from Your Community Foundation, the nonprofit will be able to provide more reading material to more kids across Read Aloud West Virginia’s coverage area.
“We give books to school-age kids through this and we’re going to spend YCF grant money on it,” Miller said. “What this grant funding does is help us continue to send books and some really sort of nurturing messages toward reading to those families, and to sign up some new ones.”
While this week is a time for Your Community Foundation to award grants to local nonprofits, Abildso said it is also a good week for her and the staff of the group to promote their mission as a community foundation. She said donations given to Your Community Foundation are put toward specific nonprofits that are selected as grant recipients regularly, so they can make the biggest impact when needed. This is one of the strengths of Your Community Foundation, she said.
“It’s just a really good way to celebrate the work that nonprofits do and also share with the community what Your Community Foundations’ role is,” Abildso said. “Part of these grant awards come from discretionary dollars, so we are always encouraging folks to donate to our YCF impact fund, because that really allows us to respond to changing needs over time.”