The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation is pleased to announce that 10 organizations have recently been awarded grants through the Foundation’s Community Partners program for the fourth quarter of 2015. Community Partners are change agents within human services that are either delivering innovative care or developing new ideas and models for doing so. They are results oriented, leveraging resources and knowledge to positively impact individuals and communities and transform society’s vision of and approach to its most vulnerable members.
Encore Studio for the Performing Arts (Madison, WI)
2015-2016 Performing Arts Program
Encore Studio for the Performing Arts is the only professional theater company for people with disabilities in Wisconsin and one of the very few in the entire United States. Encore offers an innovative, inclusive, and professional environment where all people work together in the pursuit of artistic and theatrical excellence. Since its founding 15 years ago, this groundbreaking theater company has produced over 40 original works to much local, regional, and even national acclaim. It is Encore’s objective not only to provide employment opportunities in the performing arts for people with disabilities but also to use this medium to convey an authentic message about disability and culture. A grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will go toward operational program costs for the upcoming season.
KARINA Association, Inc. (Timonium, MD)
Expressive Arts Therapy and Respite Programming
K.A.R.I.N.A (Knowledge, Awareness, Recognition, Inclusion, Nurturance and Acceptance) provides a multi-disciplinary expressive arts therapy model to low-income youth and adults with disabilities, offering classes in art, dance, movement, music, and horticulture. A grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will help provide therapy to at least 200 teens and young adults with special needs in 2015-2016.
The Children’s Museum of The Upstate (Greenville, SC)
The Children’s Museum of The Upstate (TCMU) aims to serve children in foster care and their foster parents through Fostering Celebrations, a monthly birthday celebration program held at the museum. Each month, 20 birthday children and their foster parents gather at the museum for a two hour “Super Star” birthday extravaganza where they enjoy cupcakes and refreshments. After the celebration, guests can enjoy full access to the museum, where they can explore 18 permanent exhibits, free public programming, and have time to play and simply be a kid. TCMU aims to serve up to 240 children and 180 of their family members each year through Fostering Celebrations. Funding received from The Foundation will enable 188 children to be served through this program.
Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center of Orange County (Santa Ana, CA)
YETA Youth Program
YETA is a coalition of LGBTQ youth leaders from several campuses across Orange County, CA whose primary focus areas are advocacy, activism, and education. YETA directly serves more than 1,500 LGBTQ youth each year and focuses on HIV prevention, stress reduction, improved coping skills and self-esteem, and providing safe and supportive environments for one another. Funding from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will allow YETA to increase their number of weekly meetings, create youth-oriented events such as “Queer Prom” and annual “Youth Convening,” establish stronger ties with local schools and their Gay-Straight Alliances, and allow The Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center of Orange County to continue to advocate for the needs of LGBTQ youth in Orange County.
The Bridge Center (Bridgewater, MA)
Therapeutic Recreation Programming
As a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International Premier Accredited Center, The Bridge Center operates state-of-the-art equine assisted programs designed to meet the therapeutic needs of participants with differing abilities. Key programs include therapeutic horseback riding, carriage driving, and hippotherapy for individuals with autism, cerebral palsy, emotional disorders, and muscular dystrophy. Families of The Bridge Center often endure the high costs of medical care, special education, transportation and childcare. As one of the Center’s founding principles is that no child be turned away due to financial need, The Bridge Center offers programs to families at less than the cost of service delivery and strives to provide scholarship assistance whenever the need arises. 100% of grant funding will be used to help defray operational costs for these equine assisted programs.
Partners for Youth with Disabilities (Boston, MA)
Mentor Match Program
Partners for Youth with Disabilities provides Boston youth the opportunity to develop a meaningful mentoring relationship with an adult. Mentors in the program, many of whom share similar disabilities with the youth, serve as invaluable role models who have already successfully navigated the challenges of becoming independent. At a minimum, participants commit to one year, meeting in person at least once a month and communicating by phone or email once a week. As a result of their participation, youth participants are expected to advance in one or more of the following five desired impact areas: independent living, motivation and self-esteem, community involvement, healthy relationships, and vocational development. Funds from The Foundation will be used to support the Mentor Match Program’s 2015-2016 goal of creating 45 new matches while supporting existing matches.
Ability Beyond Disability (Bethel, CT)
Pathways to Excellence
Ability Beyond Disability offers comprehensive systems of community-based support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Northeast, helping nearly 3,000 people to overcome a variety of challenges. Through innovative community job training and placement, supported living and recreational and education opportunities, Ability Beyond Disability helps individuals to live full and rewarding lives. Ability’s Pathways to Excellence Program helps Direct Support Professionals gain specialty certification in content areas that are relevant to their work: autism, young adult supports, mental health supports, behavioral supports, aging and more. Funding from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will help the organization build on the existing success of the program by enrolling another 145 employees, pilot and then broadly implement two new specialty courses in significant areas of need, and achieve retention rates over 90% among graduates of the Pathways program.
Cradles to Crayons (Brighton, MA)
Gear Up for Winter
A grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will be used to support community outreach and volunteer management efforts for the Cradles to Crayons Gear Up for Winter campaign, a process that begins with grassroots children’s product collections, held in neighborhood and corporate communities. Items collected are dropped off at the “Giving Factory” warehouse in Brighton, MA where volunteers sort and inspect donations for quality. Quality donations are packaged into personalized KidPacks, which are filled with clothing for a week, winter coats, boots, hats and gloves, books, and developmental toys. KidPacks are distributed directly to children in need through a network of social service partners. In 2014, Cradles assisted more than 107,000 children because passionate, active communities donated more than 47,000 bags of children’s product and more than 30,000 volunteers turned that product into KidPacks in the Giving Factory.
West End House (Allston, MA)
Passport to Manhood
West End House provides high-impact programs to young people of all backgrounds in the Allston-Brighton community, helping them realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. Programming is designed to help young people succeed academically, explore and master the arts, develop career readiness skills and adopt healthy lifestyles. Funding from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will support the Passport to Manhood program, which is built on 3 pillars: building a young man’s sense of self and purpose, a sense of the importance of family, and a sense of leadership and responsibility to the community. The program is designed to lead to age-appropriate youth outcomes such as positive behavioral changes and internal shifts in knowledge and attitudes. Funding will enable 60 young men to participate in this program during the 2015-2016 academic year, in partnership with Boston Public Schools’ Jackson Mann K-8 Community School.
Horace Mann Educational Associates (Franklin, MA)
Horace Mann Educational Associates (HMEA) provides a comprehensive array of services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, serving nearly 4,000 individuals in the New England area. HMEA works with individuals served to help them realize their potential and enjoy healthy, fulfilling and productive lives. HMEA’s services for adults with disabilities are geared toward helping participants spend their days in engaged and meaningful ways, and staff are constantly searching for unique and innovative activities that are challenging, stimulating, and fun. A grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will be used to help purchase an EyePlay system, which consists of 15 games and a lifetime software license for use in the day habilitation program in Millbury, MA. EyePlay is an interactive display technology which offers a unique, innovative, fun and safe activity for people of all ages and abilities that helps support physical therapy, sensory, occupational and social skills. Using a motion sensor and a video display on the wall and/or floor, individuals can play the games with their bodies in whatever way is comfortable and accessible for them.