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Three Lansing-area nonprofits awarded 2011 impact grants

Allen Neighborhood Center, REACH Studio Art Center and Greater Lansing Food Bank get a funding boost
Puppets made by REACH students

Puppets made by REACH students

Robin Miner-Swartz/CRCF

In its third year awarding Impact Grants, the Capital Region Community Foundation has chosen the Allen Neighborhood Center, REACH Studio Art Center and the Greater Lansing Food Bank to receive grants totaling $189,280.

The Allen Neighborhood Centerwill use the $75,000 grant toward opening a regional food resource center that will enable the Allen Street Farmers Market to become a year-round market, build an incubator kitchen for use by food entrepreneurs and provide storage for harvest from projects such as the Hunter Park Community GardenHouse, Urbandale Farm and others.

REACH Studio Art Centerwill use its $75,000 grant toward moving to a larger facility that likely will more than triple its existing space in south Lansing’s REO Town. Expanded, dedicated classroom space, a lobby and room for teachers and staff to work and interact are among REACH’s plans for expansion.

The Greater Lansing Food Bank’sgrant of $39,280 will be put toward the purchase of refrigerators and freezers for many of the food bank’s pantries and agencies, which will enable the food bank to make larger, less-frequent deliveries, thereby saving money.

In 2009, the Community Foundation launched the Impact Grant to proactively award $75,000 to an organization that would create a program to fill a necessary gap in the tri-county region. The inaugural Impact Grant was awarded to the Listening Ear in 2009 to purchase a building to house a new sexual assault crisis center. In 2010, the Community Foundation awarded separate $75,000 grants to ITEC Lansing and the Impression 5 Science Center to expand science, technology, engineering and math learning opportunities. Now, in its third year of existence, the special grant was awarded to three charitable organizations in mid-Michigan.

“Our board members have told us they are interested in making a larger, proactive impact on our community,” said Dennis Fliehman, president and CEO of the Capital Region Community Foundation. “These three impact grants go straight to the heart of that mission. REACH, the Allen Neighborhood Center and the Greater Lansing Food Bank are doing good work that has direct, needed benefit to residents in our region and we’re proud to support their projects.”

“We get funding from a variety of sources but it’s always especially satisfying to have this kind of vote of confidence from a local funder,” said Joan Nelson, executive director of the Allen Neighborhood Center. “This is a critical piece of startup funding that enables us to prepare an appropriate space to house these three new functions. We’ve been talking about this for five years. It’s been part of our strategic plan for the past five years.”

“We’re very excited to be able to dream about being in a larger space,” said Alice Brinkman, executive director of REACH Studio Art Center. “The Community Foundation has been very generous to us all along with program support, but this is really huge. This says growing REACH is important to our community. And I’m so excited to hear the other groups were funded too. There are so many good things out there getting much-needed support.”

“While we have seen an increase in food donations from store chains and an increase in the need for food assistance in our community, there was a bottleneck at the pantry and agency level because they don’t have a way to store more food,” said Joe Wald, executive director of the Greater Lansing Food Bank. “This grant to purchase refrigerators and freezers will increase the capacity to store and receive food and we can become more efficient as a community. That’s what this is all about. We are most appreciative the Capital Region Community Foundation is supporting this effort. This will absolutely address an ongoing need in this community in a cost-effective way.”

The Capital Region Community Foundation has awarded $2,088,785 in grants in 2011. More grants will be announced in the fall.