2018 Grant Recipients

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge - $75,000

TEENACTION is a comprehensive teen education and employment program. RWF funds will be used to hire a Teen Retention Coordinator for outreach into schools and neighborhoods. Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Virginia (B&GC) will be starting a Youth Employment Services program for 14-18 year old teens to provide skills development, character building, and job readiness, connecting teenagers with paying, part-time jobs with area business partners. Funds will also provide money for student visits to potential job locations and colleges.

Not only will TEENACTION address a need in the community for youth employment and skill development, but also the location of this program should bring life and light to the very low income and largely overlooked community of NW Roanoke City. Boys & Girls Club of the Blue Ridge has served Roanoke for over 20 years.

Foundation for Rehabilitative Equipment and Endowment (FREE) - $50,000

FREE has been in existence for nearly 20 years, providing rehabilitation equipment, largely from recycled donations, for un- or under-insured disabled individuals. The requests from area patients and care givers continually exceed availability, especially for the sturdier equipment needed by bariatric patients. This project would help make medical rehab equipment available to 60 individuals for an additional three years, allowing them to safely stay in their homes longer.

The direct impact on the lives of 60 individuals is significant with proven outcomes of 97% greater independence, 92% decrease in falls, 97% decrease in ER visits, and 95% remaining safely at home. In 2017, 266 clients specifically reported they would have been displaced prematurely from their homes without equipment from FREE. For every dollar invested in FREE, $74 is saved in community medical costs. This translates to $5.7 million in the Roanoke Valley. Much pre-used rehabilitation equipment is potentially destined for landfills.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic - $76,000

This funding will support the salary, benefits, and program expenses of two community health educators in Roanoke for a program unique to the Roanoke Valley. The educators provide evidence-based curriculum, parent engagement programs, and single session community presentations to help young people gain a positive view of sexuality and to provide them with developmentally appropriate knowledge and skills so that they can make healthy decisions about their sexuality.

During the 1990’s, Roanoke City had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state. Although the Roanoke City rate has dropped to 12th among 133 Virginia localities, it is still 2.5 times that of the state average. The educators currently work in partnership with Roanoke City Public Schools and also teach parenting seminars and sex educations classes at the West End Center, TAP Head Start Program, Virginia Cares Prison Release Program, Bethany Hall, and local colleges. Education and counseling are adjusted based on age. Programs focus on self-esteem, building strong, healthy relationships, pregnancy prevention, and disease prevention.

Southeast Rural Community Assistance (SERCAP) - $30,000

SERCAP was founded in 1969. Its mission is to promote affordable water and wastewater facilities, environmental health, and economic self-sufficiency for low-income homeowners.

Unfortunately, access to clean water and functioning plumbing in the U.S. is not universal nor is it an exclusively rural problem. The Water Is Life! Fund, which the RWF is supporting, is a unique effort to provide technical assistance, education, and low-interest loans or direct grants for homeowners in more populous areas and/or whose incomes may be marginally higher than federal or state guidelines permit. RWF money will boost fund to address immediate needs for repairs, upgrades, and new construction in the cities and surrounding counties in the RWF service area as well as to increase visibility and matching-grant eligibility with other potential funders.

The 2016 American Communities Survey which identified 289 occupied households within the service area of the RWF that lacked a functioning toilet. Approximately half of the homes in Botetourt and Franklin counties and two-thirds of those in Craig and Floyd counties are served by private wells and septic systems which are subject to frequent maintenance and repair costs that low-income families are ill-equipped to pay. SERCAP provides help to low-income neighborhoods as well as individual homeowners.

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Total Action for Progress (TAP) - $88,500

TAP is critically in need of an agency-wide computer system upgrade to consolidate client services and reporting throughout the 25+ programs that TAP provides. Currently, report consolidation is done by hand, and these reports cannot be easily accessed throughout the agency. In conjunction with other community action agencies around the U.S., TAP recently evaluated several new software systems designed to allow better communication across programs.

Many of their current computers were donated second-hand. Microsoft has recently announced that it will stop providing support to operating systems older than Windows 10 as of January 2020. About half of TAP’s computers are in this category. The RWF grant will TAP to increase its capacity significantly by replacing its oldest computers.

In 2017, TAP served 5,656 clients, 84% of whom reside in the RWF service area. Since its founding in 1965, TAP has educated more than 31,000 children through the Head Start program and provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships to low-income students.

The overhaul of the TAP computer systems will allow the employees of TAP to better serve the clientele who so depend on them.

The West End Center - $50,000

Located in Roanoke, The West End Center serves 180 meals each summer day and 90 snacks per day during the school year. There are no commercial ovens, one small sink, and less counter space than in most homes. Each of the two bathrooms (girls and boys) has one sink, serving 45 girls and 45 boys daily. The plan includes redesigning the kitchen, rewiring, installing commercial ovens, expanding storage and counter space, and adding two hand washing sinks in the cafeteria. The existing bathrooms will be replaced.

In a typical year, the Center serves 150 individual children from elementary through middle school ages. This renovation will provide an updated facility that will add to the nutritional and sanitary health of these low-income children. Having served Roanoke's disadvantaged children for almost 40 years, the West End Center is a deeply rooted community asset.

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