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Bainbridge Community Foundation gives grants to 46 nonprofits

Bainbridge student Josie Hill demonstrates to the school board at its June 13 meeting how she can program a robot to follow a path on the floor. A grant from the Bainbridge Community Foundation will help fund an expansion of the robotics program currently in place in the middle grades to the  elementary schools. - Photo courtesy of the Bainbridge Schools Foundation
Bainbridge student Josie Hill demonstrates to the school board at its June 13 meeting how she can program a robot to follow a path on the floor. A grant from the Bainbridge Community Foundation will help fund an expansion of the robotics program currently in place in the middle grades to the elementary schools.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of the Bainbridge Schools Foundation

Troubled teens on Bainbridge will soon receive free, confidential mental health guidance in a way that is familiar and convenient: through social media.

Bainbridge Youth Services is sponsoring the new mental health program, and the nonprofit’s outreach effort is one of nearly 50 programs that will receive funding this year from the Bainbridge Community Foundation. The grants were announced at a celebration event on Thursday, June 27 at the Bainbridge Performing Arts facility.

There was a lot to celebrate.

The grants, which total about $140,000, were awarded to 46 nonprofits, including the Bainbridge Chorale, Helpline House, and the Bainbridge Island Domestic Violence Program by the YWCA of Kitsap County.

Bainbridge Youth Services will collaborate with the Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island to develop the new mental health service. Teens will have access to help through both texting and web-based educational tools designed and implemented by professionals on Rotary’s Healthy Youth Committee.

“Over the last decade Bainbridge Youth Services has seen an increase in our youth ‘calling for help,’” Marina Cofer-Wildsmith, executive director of BYS, said in the grant application. “The collective data tells us that our adolescents have extremely high anxiety and depression issues.”

The social media campaign is a way to answer urgent, real-time questions and to provide resources that can help both teens and their parents. Privacy and confidentiality will be guaranteed.

“Our texting program will be staffed by qualified, certified therapists who will use this outreach to educate and engage, not counsel,” Cofer-Wildsmith explained. “Likewise, the web program will have two pages (an Ask the Doctor and an Ask the Counselor page). Qualified medical professionals will staff both pages.”

The grant celebration event was the culmination of the Bainbridge Community Foundation’s ninth annual community grants cycle, in which local nonprofits submit funding requests to help them meet local needs. The requests are evaluated by a grant committee made up of members of the foundation board and the community.

The grant requests fall into a variety of categories, including health and human services; environment; arts and culture; education; animal welfare; and recreation.

“BCF is proud to be a part of a collection of donors, nonprofits and community members working together to enhance the quality of life for Island residents and beyond,” said Jim Hopper, executive director of the foundation.

“Our donor-advised fund partners contributed more than $80,000 toward these grants,” he said.

Individual grant amounts ranged from $750 to $6,825. Twenty-three of the proposals were fully funded.

Among the programs receiving grants were:

Robotics education in Bainbridge elementary schools: The Bainbridge Schools Foundation will introduce a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) robotics program at the elementary school level this fall to stoke children’s interest in math and science at an early age. The BCF grant will help fund the first phase of the program – summer training for a pilot teacher from each grade at each of the four elementary schools and robotics kits for their classrooms. Throughout the year, students in the pilot classes will design and build machines to make the connection between what they are learning and how to solve real-world problems.

Sensory program to serve children/families with autism: On the fourth Sunday of each month the Kids Discovery Museum will be open solely to children and families with autism, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., to allow them to explore the exhibits in a quieter environment, with assistance from applied behavior analysis specialists. In addition, four times a year a “Kids Night at the Museum” will be geared for autistic children, giving parents a needed break knowing that their child is in trained hands.

Student Conservation Corps removing invasive plant species on conservation lands: This Bainbridge Island Land Trust grant will pay for corps directors to oversee students (ages 15 to 18) throughout a four-week summer program and support an additional week of student work on trust-conserved properties. The ongoing student program not only enhances the overall health of the natural areas of the Island, it also educates a new generation of conservationists, the application said.

Spay and neuter program: The Kitsap Humane Society operates a spay-and-neuter program to control pet overpopulation in Kitsap County, and assists low-income families by offering special pricing for the surgery. Additionally, in partnership with PAWS of Bainbridge Island, the Humane Society will establish a new program called “Project Connect,” which will center on providing pet spay/neuter services to the underprivileged and homeless free of charge and also transportation to the shelter for the procedure.

Visually impaired persons room at the library: The Bainbridge Public Library will be able to renovate and upgrade the small downstairs room that is used by members of the visually impaired persons group and other library patrons whose vision is impaired. After 15 years, the room looks like a storage place for outdated stuff and the environment is no longer inviting – or even safe, the application noted.

Free legal assistance: Kitsap Legal Services will use foundation funding to continue operating the monthly Bainbridge Island Advice Clinic at Helpline House, which provides assistance to vulnerable and low-income residents in areas of civil law, including housing, family, bankruptcy, consumer, employment and wills.

The Bainbridge Youth Services grant for innovative mental health access was one of three Trustee Awards given this year. These special recognition awards are separately funded by foundation trustees, staff and grants committee members, and are given to proposals that promote partnership or collaboration between community organizations.

Two other Trustee Award recipients were the Bainbridge Schools Foundation, to fund the planning of a large art installation by children in collaboration with the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and KiDiMu; and Bainbridge Island Child Care Centers, to support a collaborative staff training program for the Boys and Girls Club of Bainbridge Island and the child care center – the two largest after-school programs on the Island.

The Bainbridge Community Foundation, established in 2001, is a public grant-making charity that accepts and manages funds from donors who want to support community improvements. The foundation’s assets total approximately $10 million.

During the last 12 years, the foundation has given more than 900 grants totaling just under $4 million to causes that the Bainbridge Island community cares about.

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