Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Aid Reaches into Springfield Grants to Boost Variety of Programs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Aid Reaches into Springfield Grants to Boost Variety of Programs

Article excerpt

Children in Springfield can now learn more about cultural pursuits or career choices, thanks to $25,000 worth of grants from the Jessie Ball duPont Springfield mini-grant program.

Programs to benefit Springfield senior citizens, historic preservation efforts and neighborhood programs also will receive a financial boost.

The Jacksonville Community Foundation, an umbrella organization that contains 250 charitable funds, allots the Springfield mini-grants from the Jessie Ball duPont Advised Fund each year to help improve Springfield.

The goals are to improve youth services, improve communications, build the community of Springfield and create economic opportunity.

Antoinette Jackson, whose Heart to Heart program received $3,375, said she was very thankful for the assistance. Heart to Heart is affiliated with Westside Church of Christ and works with young women to help build self-esteem through education, in subjects ranging from sex education to the role music plays in decision-making.

"It is a tremendous asset -- we are able to provide resources for our children that wouldn't be possible without the money," she said. "The church has limited resources, and the money the funding provides is invaluable in order to communicate with the kids. The money allows us to see what works and what doesn't."

Brett Williams, co-chair of the Springfield mini-grant advisory committee, said "funds go directly to the community to those who need them, without the red tape."

The duPont fund gives grants to new or expansion programs, said John Zoll, program officer for the Jacksonville Community Foundation. It is a competitive process because the money is limited.

The committee, made up of members of the Springfield community, looks for programs with the highest likelihood of success, and ones that will last. Most organizations receive a one-time grant, usually when they are expanding or diversifying an existing program.

"A lot of the initiatives go toward children," Williams added. "Non-profit organizations, churches and schools really impact the neighborhood in a positive way."

Of the 11 grants awarded this year, five were directed toward children/school programs. The rest were oriented toward general neighborhood improvement, with the exception of one program targeting seniors.

Urban Ministries is an after-school program and will use its grant of $3,520 to help school children with career exploration and cultural experiences. The director of the program, Audrey Gibson, plans to have people from various occupations come and discuss their professional lives to help the kids explore new and different possibilities.

The program also will take the children on field trips to cultural venues in Jacksonville, such as museums and galleries. …

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