Pinellas Community Foundation awards grants to fit current, future needs

Bed frames, sliding glass doors, air conditioning units, and tankless water heaters.

Those are the kinds of practical requests for assistance that the Pinellas Community Foundation’s recent Capital Improvement and Equipment Grant awards aim to fulfill.

It’s no surprise that some new items on the list point to pandemic influence. There are the portable room dividers that the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast will purchase to promote social distancing, for example, and the virtual programming equipment for Girls, Inc.

Pandemic concerns coupled with a significant focus on equity and ensuring the needs of the community in terms of race and socioeconomic status are priorities, says Pinellas Community Foundation CEO Duggan Cooley. PCF, therefore, asks specific questions of nonprofits that seek funding: Who are they serving? How is the community reflected in the organization’s leadership and vice versa?

When the community served by a nonprofit is represented in its leadership, Cooley says, success rates are higher. Ensuring that the organization is closely tied to who they hope to help and what they hope to achieve is imperative. At his place at the helm of PCF, Cooley is witnessing what he believes is unprecedented cooperation and collaboration among members of the philanthropic community, nonprofits in particular, toward achieving shared goals and desired outcomes.

Moving beyond the pandemic for long-term impact 

Whether quickly adopting social distancing parameters for volunteers or expanding an online donation and communication footprint, organizations are adapting in ways that can improve the outreach experience post-pandemic, Cooley says. One such advancement is in the transportation sector. One of the most commonly voiced concerns is the need for reliable transportation. Through innovative technology advancements spurred by coping with the pandemic, it may be possible to streamline assistance with on-demand ride-sharing and more in the future.

Nonprofits have collaborated in symbiotic relationships to meet challenges head-on, he says. When patients without home assistance were being discharged from the hospital, the City of Clearwater stepped up to establish a respite center; a nonprofit, Directions for Living, offered support. Throughout the months when PPE was scarce, organizations that had an ample supply shared the equipment with others.

“All of this has been for the benefit of the community,” Cooley says, “and some of this will have a positive impact going forward.”
Take the efficiency of Feeding Tampa Bay, for example, which pivoted quickly to recruit and fit hundreds of volunteers from all over the region with masks and gloves and established a seamless food distribution operation designed to keep people safe.

As vaccine numbers rise and safety measures continue, those volunteers have begun trickling back to help their originally chosen charities, Cooley says. the end to this temporary repurposing of the local not-for-profit workforce offers a glimmer of hope that life for everyone is improving and that such mission work is sustainable. Some charities have seen reduced revenue during the pandemic, as major traditional moneymaking events such as galas and golf tournaments came to a halt. Many nonprofits shifted in innovative ways to provide alternative virtual and creative fundraisers or sought out increased giving from loyal donors and while trying to attract new donors. The return of volunteers marks another turning point.

“Volunteers are a major source of fundraising and visibility,” Cooley says. “And they’re starting to feel confident enough to come back to help.”

In the meantime, the small, medium, and large 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Pinellas County selected for the Capital Improvement and Equipment Grant awards will use the funds for necessities – because even a pandemic can’t change the need for HVAC units and security cameras, phone systems, and vehicles.

Funded through donations by PCF Giving to Humanity members, 100% of grant monies were awarded to Pinellas 501c3 nonprofits; PCF matched the amounts.

Below are the award recipients 
  • Boley Centers, Inc. assists individuals with mental disabilities, the homeless, veterans, and youth. The grant will help replace deteriorated sliding glass doors in a 15-unit affordable housing complex.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast, Inc. provides youth with a safe, positive and engaging environment. The grant allows for the purchase of portable room dividers for all club locations for safety and distancing during the pandemic.
  • Community Dental Clinic cares for adults who do not have dental insurance or the financial means to receive urgent dental care. The grant is for the purchase of a new dental chair to increase its dental health services availability.
  • Creative Clay offers individuals with disabilities access to the arts. The grant will improve outdoor classroom space, install security cameras and provide art technology to staff and artists.
  • Disability Achievement Center helps individuals with disabilities to achieve and maintain an independent lifestyle. The grant allows the center to level and resurface its parking lot.
  • Florida Resurrection House, Inc. works to end generational poverty and provide families with resources to maintain a stable life. It will utilize the grant to replace its boiler with tankless water heaters.            
  • Girls, Inc. provides after-school educational and enrichment programming for girls. The grant will purchase for equipment to offer virtual programming, which will also continue post-pandemic.
  • Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services, Inc. protects the vulnerable and strengthens families. It will purchase 45 iPad devices for middle school participants in its Violence Prevention Program.
  • Learning Empowered empowers people to build self-sustaining lives through early childhood education, financial stability programs, literacy, and citizenship. The grant will enable the replacement of its HVAC unit.
  • Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg celebrates art and diversity through its exhibits and collections. The grant allows the purchase and installation of touchless sinks for public restrooms and wireless access points in its galleries for hearing-assisted devices.
  • NOMADstudio, Inc. provides art programs to those who may not otherwise have access. The grant will repair its mobile studio known as the NOMAD Art Bus.
  • Pinellas County Urban League, Inc. changes lives through economic development, education, housing, and health programs. The grant allows the purchase of a cloud-based phone system to better connect with clients and computer lab upgrades.
  • R'Club Child Care, Inc. promotes respect, responsibility, resourcefulness, and responsiveness. The grant provides for the purchase of tablets to replace aging technology used for preschool assessments.
  • Society of St. Vincent de Paul South Pinellas, Inc. focuses on feeding, housing, and caring for the homeless, veterans and families. It will purchase health and safety equipment for its Center of Hope.
  • Starting Right, Now serves homeless youth by helping them finish high school and improve their life path. This grant will pay for bed-bug-resistant bed frames and mattresses for their Pinellas boys’ shelter.
  • Suncoast Center, Inc. provides emotional wellness, trauma, and child advocacy services. The grant will be used to purchase a vehicle for providing services to their clients.            
About Pinellas Community Foundation (PCF): 
With over $120 million in charitable assets, Pinellas Community Foundation seeks effective solutions for Pinellas County’s most challenging social, environmental and educational issues, while supporting the advancement of arts and culture. Since 1969, more than 300 charitable organizations have received $75 million in grants to support their community programs. For more information, visit the PCF website.
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Read more articles by Amy Hammond.

Amy Hammond is a freelance writer and author of children’s books that encourage the next generation to attend college. When not indoctrinating youth about the necessity of higher education, she enjoys exploring the paradise that is her St. Petersburg home. She holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a Masters in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in such venues as the Tampa Bay Times. Children’s Book Titles by Amy Hammond include: When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Gator; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a ‘Nole; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Bull; When I Grow Up, I’m Bama Bound; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Tiger.