Foundation awards grants to 18 groups


Eighteen local non-profit organizations that work with human services, arts, culture and education have received grants totaling $100,000 from the Columbia Foundation.

The biggest recipients were the Columbia Festival of the Arts, which received $42,000, and Voices for Children, volunteers who work with abused and abandoned children, which received $15,000.

"We've given away over $2.3 million over the past 23 years, and we have seed-funded many non-profit organizations that exist today," said Barbara K. Lawson, executive director of the foundation. "Someone else usually comes up with the ideas for the program, but finding someone to help support that idea financially is another story."

Two other grants given this year will help start the programs for the A. Eugene Hoeper Foundation, a volunteer support network for chronically ill deaf people, and the Howard County Conservancy, an organization that will acquire land for an environmental trust.

The human services grants, which totaled $42,100, will support projects that benefit the disabled, youth and the family. Arts and cultural organizations received $49,000, and five educational and community service organizations received $8,900.

The Columbia Foundation, an independent community organization, dispenses money annually to support various groups and accepts proposals twice a year for aid.

jTC "We receive a number of proposals that start coming in February, and they are looked at in a very competitive process by the grant review committee," Lawson said. "They examine issues like: Does the program meet the needs of community? Does the organization have the capacity to do what they propose to do? Does the project make sense? And does it meet the guidelines of what we would normally fund?"

After the 12-member review committee looks at the budget and makes recommendations, it sends the list to the board of directors, which votes on those recommendations, she said.

Fall grants are generally used to keep existing programs going, and spring grants are usually given to projects that are just starting in the community to help them out, Lawson added.

The foundation generates money from its annual cocktail party, which brings in about $20,000. Individual contributions, local companies and an endowment fund help maintain its annual budget, which totaled $297,000 this year. So far, the group has given away $248,500 of its budget to 43 projects.

"Our budget has been growing each year, and we hope it continues to do that so that we can continue our work," Lawson said.

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