With nonprofit groups still worried about lower donations from state government and United Way, Columbia's Horizon Foundation has announced 69 grants totaling $1.5 million for public and private agencies throughout Howard County.
The grants are intended to help organizations expand their capacity to help people, especially those with health-related problems, said Horizon President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Krieg.
The distribution represents a large amount for Horizon to give out at one time, Krieg said, noting that the foundation has granted about $12 million in aid since it was founded in 1998. Krieg said the foundation has increased its endowment from $68 million to $76 million in that time through good investments.
Krieg said he is "guardedly optimistic" about funding for nonprofits in 2005 because the economy seems a bit better than last year and the state's budget woes have eased.
Horizon, which was formed from the merger of Howard County General Hospital with Johns Hopkins Medicine, is giving its largest single grant - $301,500 - to Howard County's Office on Aging for development of an automated information and referral system for seniors and the disabled and to help older people manage chronic diseases.
The smallest grant of $118 is going to the Congregations Concerned for the Homeless for a camping weekend designed to strengthen relations between children and their parents. Horizon also gave the group a $4,500 grant to buy computers to start a Homeless Management Information System required by state government.
Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center got two grants totaling $55,000 to help run this winter's cold-weather shelter, and to plan for ways to increase the number of beds for homeless people in the county.
A small portion of that money will pay for a part-time case manager and a student intern to help find longer-term help for people moving from church to church for shelter from the winter cold, said Andrea Ingram, executive director of Grassroots.
"Hopefully, we can do more for people than just keep them out of the cold," Ingram said.
Horizon's help is vital for Howard's nonprofits, and also for government agencies, said Susan Rosenbaum, director of the county's department of Citizen Services, which oversees the Office on Aging.
"They help us to jump start programs - to be proactive in areas where there isn't public funding," she said.
The Association of Community Services, an umbrella group for 140 county nonprofits, is getting $105,000 for organizational help. The Health Alliance, which runs a free medical clinic in Columbia, is getting $50,000, and $70,000 is going to HC DrugFree, a substance abuse prevention program.
Other donations include $91,407 in two grants to the Foreign Born Information and Referral Service; $61,200 to the Domestic Violence Center; $153,000 in three grants to Howard Community College Educational Foundation; and $40,500 to the Howard County Center of African American Culture to support programs to interest minority middle school pupils in health careers.