Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) recently awarded SVdP two state-funded summer learning grants — totaling $142,000 — to support summer education and enrichment activities for children of low-income and unhoused families.

Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) recently awarded St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) two state-funded summer learning grants — totaling $142,000 — to support summer education and enrichment activities for children of low-income and unhoused families.

“St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County is an innovative and effective service provider for our community in countless ways, from childcare to housing to employment services,” said John Moriarty, OCF’s Senior Program Officer for the Southern Willamette Valley. “OCF is happy to be able to facilitate this state funding support for these crucial summer learning programs.”

The grants, to SVdP’s First Place Kids and Resident Services Kids Club, reflect OCF’s emphasis on supporting families and communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Since April, OCF has been administering $41.2 million in state-funded grants for organizations to provide summer enrichment options for those populations, which include SVdP’s affordable-housing tenant families and others experiencing homelessness.

“OCF has invested in programs for young children and their families for more than two decades, knowing that experiences in the early years are critical for children’s healthy development,” said Mary Louise McClintock, OCF’s Senior Education Strategy and Policy Advisor. “We’re thrilled to partner with the State of Oregon to make resources available in communities all over the state for activities and classes that bring families together after months of stress and isolation.”

Accessible mini-bus will get Kids Club moving again

On June 23, OCF approved a $92,000 grant from its K-12 Summer Learning Fund to SVdP’s Resident Services Kids Club program. Resident Services provides on-site support for tenant families at affordable-housing properties managed by SVdP, which total more than 1,500 units.

“Without this funding we would not be able to start our Kids Club again post-COVID, due to our funding disruptions caused by the pandemic in 2020,” said SVdP Resident Services Manager Elizabeth Carr. “This grant will have an impact long after the funding is used — it will enable us to provide children in affordable housing experiences they will remember for a lifetime.”

The grant, the largest ever received by Resident Services, will support summer youth development for K-12 kids in Lane and Linn counties by funding accessible transportation, maintenance and programming expenses. Specifically, it will fund the purchase of a new wheelchair-accessible mini-bus for safely transporting youth of all abilities — making possible a wide range of enriching Kids Club field trips and activities for low-income tenant families.

Summer fun, family bonding at First Place Kids

On June 16, OCF approved funding of $50,000 from its Early Childhood Family Support Fund to First Place Kids (FPK), a therapeutic childcare program within SVdP’s First Place Family Center. The money will support summer programming through FPK, where staff take a trauma-informed approach to meeting the unique needs of families experiencing homelessness.

“All children deserve the experience of carefree summer fun, but for families navigating homelessness in our community, this is often not accessible,” said FPK Program Director Ilana Jakubowski. “First Place Kids is thrilled to expand our program services to include family support activities, and we’re looking forward to a fantastic summer season thanks to the support of Oregon Community Foundation.”

Parent-education sessions, family fun days and wellness events will take place at SVdP’s day center and overnight shelter sites this summer. The activities will create opportunities for staff to model positive adult/child interaction, and for families to engage in bonding and skill-building.

Ongoing need for donations, volunteers

Grant funding such as this from OCF is critical to the long-term success of many SVdP programs, but Resident Services, First Place Kids and others also have ongoing needs for monetary and in-kind donations, as well as volunteers. To donate or learn about opportunities to help low-income families and those experiencing homelessness, call 541-600-8454; donations also can be made online.

About Oregon Community Foundation

Oregon Community Foundation puts donated money to work in Oregon — more than $100 million in grants and scholarships annually. Since 1973, OCF grantmaking, research, advocacy and community-advised solutions have helped individuals, families, businesses, and organizations create charitable funds to improve lives for all Oregonians. Impactful giving — time, talent, and resources from many generous Oregonians — creates measurable change. Throughout 2020, OCF responded quickly and urgently — distributing a record-setting $220 million in charitable dollars to more than 3,000 nonprofits throughout Oregon working to address urgent needs, stabilize communities and prepare for long-term recovery in Oregon. OCF donors responded to the magnitude of need, as reflected in a 44 percent increase in donor-advised fund grantmaking from the previous year. For more information, please visit www.oregoncf.org.