Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY
Jacksonville's Office of Faith and Community Based Partnerships issued its first grants on Monday, spreading $240,000 evenly among two dozen ministries and non-profit agencies.
With a grinning Mayor John Peyton looking on, office administrator Pete Jackson handed $10,000 checks to 24 agency representatives gathered in a conference room at City Hall.
Those checks represent half of the total $20,000 each organization will receive and half of the $480,000 the office has to distribute this year.
The mood in the room was jovial, with agency directors laughing and joking with each other as they returned to their seats, checks in hand.
But Peyton, after a few congratulatory words, urged everyone to remember they were holding taxpayer money in their hands.
"We've got to show a return," Peyton said. "Your accountability is important to the credibility of this office."
The organizations will get the rest of their money after submitting receipts showing their first installments were spent according to the purposes stated in their grant applications, Jackson said.
The 24 recipients represent a variety of religious and secular non-profit organizations focused on a range of social needs. Programs being funded range from youth mentoring and elder day care to domestic violence and financial literacy education. Other programs offer housing for the homeless, ex-offender counseling and health screenings for the needy.
Another four ministries received a total of $19,250 donated by Jacksonville chiropractor and philanthropist Robert Gibson for use in after-school FCAT tutoring programs.
At least 45 local agencies initially applied for the $20,000 grants. The others were eliminated during a selection process conducted by the office's staff and board members.
To apply, agencies had to have 501(c)3 non-profit status, operating budgets of less than $300,000 and six or fewer full-time employees.
The one-time grants are meant to aid developing non-profits increase the number of clients they can serve, Jackson said.
Monique Weeks, executive director of grant recipient Northside Community Involvement, said the grant will sustain the after-school tutoring programs her agency operates at Northside Church of Christ.
She said it buys her time while she looks at permanent funding sources elsewhere.
Jane Hart, executive director of Hart Felt Ministries, said the grant and the professional training that comes with it will help her organization survive. …