In its latest round of grant-giving, the Jefferson Foundation awarded the largest number of grants at one time in the organization’s eight-year history, said Missy Endres, the foundation’s executive director.
For the first round of 2021 grants, which were approved this month, the foundation awarded 108 grants totaling $2,707,731.97 to 106 recipients.
That surpassed the previous high of 95 grants doled out in the first round of funding in 2020.
Endres said the organization received 157 applications requesting just more than $7.8 million for the first round of grants this year.
She also said a higher number of grants was awarded this time because many of the requests were for smaller amounts than in past years.
The foundation awarded 45 grants for $10,000 or less in the latest round, and those grants made up about 42 percent of the awards, she said.
“A lot of the grants are for basic needs, which tend to be smaller grants in general,” Endres said.
“Another thing I saw is we had fewer capital requests. I would guess some of that may be because some agencies are not doing a lot of fundraising efforts and things like that, plus the cost for construction is pretty high right now.”
The latest round of recipients will begin receiving checks on June 1, Endres said.
The foundation was created from the $154 million the Mercy health system paid in 2013 when it acquired Jefferson Regional Medical Center (now Mercy Hospital Jefferson) in Crystal City. Since 2014, when the foundation began administering grants, it has awarded 1,141 grants for a total of about $52.1 million, Endres said.
The foundation has been awarding grants in two rounds each year since 2018.
On June 2, the foundation will begin accepting grant applications for its second round of grants for 2021, and the deadline to apply is July 21.
Upward Smiles, a dental agency that provides service to children from low-income Jefferson County families, received a $150,000 grant – the largest grant this round.
Jeffrey Cauley, Upward Smiles’ chief operating officer, said the grant money will help offset the salaries for a licensed dentist and full-time dental assistant at the agency’s Festus office at 660 N. Creek Drive. It also has an office at 2820 Anchor Drive in Farmington.
“We are able to say we provide the best quality care possible to each child we treat through the foundation’s continued support,” Cauley said. “They (the foundation grants) have been vital to us being able to continue to grow without compromising the quality of care.”
Upward Smiles has received $2,274,805.69 worth of grants from the foundation since 2014.
“They are the only ones really providing this service in Jefferson County,” Endres said. “We continue to hear from other agencies how important this is. We have heard from foster care agencies that because of Upward Smiles, Jefferson County is the only county they serve that they don’t have a hard time getting children in for dental services. We really feel like it is an important service, and one that we want to continue to support.”
The Jefferson County Health Department received a $145,000 grant – the second largest grant this round.
The Health Department will use those funds to support client services in Health Department offices and mobile health clinics, including vaccinations, screenings, labs, nutrition counseling, diabetes management, and basic and emergency dental care. It also will use some of the grant funds to complete a data surveillance dashboard and resource navigation tool, said Jaclyn Brown, the department’s community services manager.
Brown said the navigation tool will allow county residents to connect with resources to help meet their health-related needs.
Brown said she appreciates the foundation’s support.
“A lot of agencies, programs and individuals have benefited from funds from the foundation, she said. “I have worked with fire departments, school districts and behavioral health providers who wouldn’t be able to provide the services they have to the community without those funds. It is an incredible asset not just to the agencies but the individuals in the community.”
The Health Department has received $1,123,143.07 worth of grants from the foundation since 2014.
“The Health Department has been a wonderful partner over the years,” Endres said. “The services they provide is basic health services. We feel over the last year (because of the COVID-19 pandemic) that has been highlighted, and it is something important for us to support.”
Disability Resource Association, which is based at 130 Brandon Wallace Way in Festus, was the only other agency to receive a six-figure grant this round, getting a $100,000 grant and the third largest one awarded this round.
The DRA, which helps people with disabilities, will use the grant money to fund the organization’s transportation, emergency assistance and independent living programs, said Nancy Pope, the agency’s executive director.
“Without the funding, we wouldn’t be able to provide as many services,” Pope said. “(The Jefferson Foundation) is a great resource, not only for DRA but all of our community.”
The DRA has received $603,910.10 in grants from the foundation since 2014.
“They provide unique services to the county,” Endres said. “The transportation program they provide is the only door-through-door service in the county, and the other programs are very important to the residents.”
The Blue Jay Foundation received a $20,000 grant to help create a grocery store and resource center for Jefferson R-7 School District students and families.
R-7 Superintendent Clint Johnston said the district will use a room in the Telegraph Intermediate School, 1265 Dooling Hollow Road, in Festus to create the store and center. He said the project will cost an estimated $80,000 to $100,000 to complete, and the district anticipates opening the space late next fall.
He said the district is working with the Blue Jay Foundation and other local resources to raise more funds for the project.
“Our goal is to work with students in need by allowing them to earn resource purchases by doing acts of good will by working in the store,” Johnston said.
Students will use the resource credits they earn to purchase items from the grocery store, which will be stocked with milk, bread, cereal, canned goods, peanut butter and jelly, and fruit.
“You want to introduce kids to those things,” Johnston said. “We are trying to get kids turned onto proper nutrition and health. I would say the sky is the limit for what could be available in the store, but we will start with the staples.”
Johnston said the store also will teach students about managing a business.
The space in Telegraph Intermediate also will house a resource center to address needs beyond hunger and nutrition, Jefferson R-7 intervention specialist Steve Horn said.
“One of the keys to the project was not letting it be one dimensional,” Horn said. “We don’t want to ignore mental health needs students and families may struggle with. They will have access to mental health treatment, housing resources and things of that nature.”
Endres said foundation members are looking forward to seeing the completed project.
“It seemed like a great program,” Endres said. “We are excited we can help them get it started, and I am excited to see the results.”
Jefferson Foundation 2021 Grants – Round 1
■ ACPD (Austin Christopher Paul Deno): $40,000, to increase access to substance abuse treatment services for Jefferson County residents.
■ Aging Ahead: $9,200.38, to increase access to substance abuse treatment services for Jefferson County residents.
■ All For Family: $15,000, to provide program support and assist with expanding the supervised visit program.
■ Alzheimer’s Association…