Arkansas Community Foundation recently announced $60,000 in grants to six organizations working to improve social and economic conditions for children and families in the Arkansas Delta region. These grants, awarded from the Community Foundation’s Arkansas Delta Endowment for Building Community, will support initiatives that empower residents to improve their economic stability and quality of life. “We know that increasing families’ ability to earn a living and manage household finances are important steps to reducing poverty,” said Larkin. “A common theme among the programs we’re supporting this year is their emphasis on creating job opportunities in the Delta and helping residents prepare for higher-wage jobs or start their own businesses.” Funding from the Arkansas Delta Endowment grant program is targeted at the 26-county Arkansas Delta region. Research compiled in the second edition of the Community Foundation’s Aspire Arkansas report, released last fall, indicates that the state’s highest concentration of people living in poverty is in the Delta. In Chicot, Phillips, Lee, Monroe and St. Francis Counties, poverty rates topped 30 percent in 2011. “I feel very optimistic about the potential for our grant recipients to foster positive change in the Delta,” said Heather Larkin, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “We believe these grants are planting seeds that will continue growing and benefiting the people of our state for years to come.” Organizations receiving grants are:
- Vera Lloyd Presbyterian Family Services, which has a children’s home in Monticello, to support its Transitional Living Program, through which young adults aging out of foster care have access to housing, mentoring and wrap-around services to prepare them for employment, help them achieve success in higher education and master independent living skills.
- Delta Circles, based in Helena, to implement workshops that help low-income individuals gain financial literacy, employability skills and personal leadership skills, while also connecting them with mentors who can provide long-term support as they move out of poverty.
- Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, to pilot the Teen Reach Initiative in Jefferson and Desha counties. The program partners with school districts to educate teens about healthy relationship practices and how to avoid dating violence.
- Delta Cuisine Kitchen Incubator, based in West Memphis, to provide food entrepreneurs and small businesses with a licensed commercial-grade kitchen facility to develop, grow and expand culinary enterprises. The grant will enable Delta Cuisine’s staff to complete training in business incubation with the National Business Incubator Association.
- Thrive, based in Helena, to support the Design Fellowship Program, which recruits creative young artists to help develop high-quality marketing and promotional materials for Delta-based businesses and start-ups, enhancing these businesses’ ability to market themselves.
- alt.Consulting, based in Pine Bluff, to support the Delta Made program, which expands awareness of high-quality artisan products and services unique to the Arkansas Delta region and offers entrepreneurs access to markets and opportunities to expand their local businesses.
- The Arkansas Delta Endowment for Building Community was established through a gift from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Arkansas Community Foundation makes grants from the endowment annually. Visit arcf.org to learn more about Foundation grants.