Nonprofits Like – Fill a Heart 4 Kids – Provide Pivotal Positive Experiences For Homeless Youth and Children in Foster Care System.

Imagine you're living on the streets of Chicago, exposed to elements, trying to find a way to stay warm
after running away from an abusive situation at home. Imagine it's below freezing, the snow is falling,
you don't have a warm coat or blanket and you've only got $6 in your pocket. Imagine you're only 12
years old and want to stay in school and you don't want anyone to know you're living on the streets.
Imagine you go to a shelter and it's full, and you don't know where else to turn. Imagine you meet some
kids who tell you about an opportunity to make some money… What would you do?

This isn't an imaginary scenario by any means. It's estimated that 1.3 million children in public schools
across the U.S. are homeless, of which over 20,000 are in Illinois. Nearly 2.5 million youth in the U.S. are
homeless or face a period a homelessness each year.

The saying, "There, but for the grace of God, go I" comes to mind. We're all born into different
circumstances and situations – by the luck of the draw, karma or Divine will, some of us grow up in
warm, happy, loving families, and others have parents who wind up in jail and may not have any family
members in a position to take them in. There are many ways children wind up under the Department of
Children and Family Services'; purveyance, or on the streets making themselves invisible to elude the
system. Approximately 17,920 children are in DCFS custody in Illinois, and over 691,000 were served by
Child Welfare System programs throughout the U.S. in 2017.

We all have formative memories. These may come from scoring the winning basket on the court or
facing a judge in family court, living in a suburban four-bedroom home with loving parents — or sharing a
room in a group home, or getting shuttled from one home to another in hopes that one will stick.
Inconsistency in their home life takes a toll on foster children, leaving them at greater risk of falling
behind academically or dropping out of school.

Annie McAveeney, founder and the driving force behind Fill a Heart 4 Kids, specializes in creating pivotal moments and memorable positive experiences for children and teens. Exuding energy, passion and purpose, McAveeney devotes her time to helping children in desperate need. "We offer typical experiences that these kids are robbed of, like birthday
parties, holiday gifts, and trips to the movies,” said McAveeney. "We do programs for every holiday so
they know they're loved and not forgotten." 

For the past 12 years, the McAveeney family and Fill a Heart 4 Kids (FAH4K) have been providing those
life-changing memories for thousands of homeless children and children in the foster care system in the
Chicagoland area. Being a Safe Family Mom, the idea sprang from her desire to cheer up her daughters after their first foster son –who had lived with them for six months –went back to live with his biological
family. The McAveeney family had all grown very attached to him and his mom, and while the goal of
the Safe Families for Kids program, as well as the foster care system, is reunification whenever possible,
letting go is still difficult. "I suggested that we do something to help others,” said McAveeney. “There are thousands of kids in group homes, shelters and family placements in foster care. These programs are severely underfunded.
They have no money to spare for extras.”

Her family made 48 Valentine's Day hearts and delivered them to group homes in their area. And with
this, Fill a Heart 4 Kids was born. Over the past 12 years, the organization has grown exponentially with
over 6,000 volunteers in 2018. "About 50% of our volunteers are kids. We partner with organizations
and corporations, and schools, Girl Scout troupes, churches and temples all bring groups to volunteer," 
she said. “It's a meaningful experience for the kids and teens who volunteer to give to other kids and see
the impact they can have on a child’s life.”

They've hired their first staff member, an executive director with fundraising experience, Denise O'Handley.  O'Handley, turned to GrantWatch, to see if they could find a grant to increase their operations. Some of the organization’s current ongoing programs include: Locker Homes 4 Homeless Kids, so they can store their belongings while at work or school; Survival BacPacs 4 Homeless Kids, filled with basic necessities; Project Warm and Project CoCoa, both which provide coats and other supplies to help keep kids warm during the winter months; food Gift Cards 4 Homeless Kids, so they can get off the streets and eat with dignity, Project Smart, which provides school supplies to kids year-round; and a Pilot Work Program to teach foster children new skills.

"We serve about 1300 children who are homeless or in foster care in the Chicago area. Of these, about 850 are in group homes or private home placements and about 500 are homeless,” said McAveeney. “Many are homeless due to aging out of the system and not being able to afford to pay rent. Eighty percent of the kids in our program were either abandoned or have been abused, molested or trafficked by family members. On average, one out every four unaccompanied homeless kids is trafficked within 72 hours. We want to give kids experiences and the necessary tools so they can have a brighter future," said McAveeney.  

Over six years after that initial Valentine's Day, Annie saw a Valentine's Day heart hanging on the wall in a child's room that she knew she'd made that first day. The child told her that they looked at that heart first when they opened their eyes every morning and knew that they were loved.  Such a small token as a valentine's day card or a birthday cake can make a huge difference in a child's life.

"These kids want to be loved so badly. They need to learn to build relationships so that they'll be good parents when the time comes,” she said.  

Over the years, the McAveeney's have hosted many children as a "Safe Family for Children." This means they don't take any governmental assistance for the children who come to live with them. The children they host are cared for just like their own children. They take on all financial aspects, such as feeding and clothing them.  “It’s a privilege to walk beside the biological parents and see the transformation,” said McAveeney.

Less than 3% of children in the foster care system earn a college degree. Positive childhood experiences such as getting placed with a solid, loving family for even a few months and knowing that someone cares can have a huge impact. If you’re a parent, teacher, administrator, or nonprofit, remember, each moment can be an inspirational experience. You never know which will become pivotal moments that shape the course of their lives or set them on their life's path. For more information, or to support Fill a Heart 4 Kids, see:

To help create special memories for children and those in need, go to, which has grants for children, education, community, out of school youth and more.



About the Author: The author is a staff writer for GrantNews.


2018 Project Drive Grant Recipients Announced

Grant makers award grants based on their specific eligibility criteria.  Funding sources fund according to their pre-determined interests in program categories, locations, types of organizations and what monies may be used for. Some grants, such as the Project Drive Grant, a part of the G. L. Huyett Charities, are location specific. In their case, anyone outside a 50-mile radius of Minneapolis, Kansas is not eligible.

Project Grants are allocations of money that nonprofits, organizations, institutions, and businesses are eligible to apply for by submitting specific project proposals.  Similar to project grants are program grants. These are grants where the money is used for a specific program such as establishing a gymnastics team. 

Most grant makers prefer to help start a project or program or give it a boost part-way through, but not to cover any ongoing expenses once it is up and running. They want the project to become self-supporting, for its operational costs to come from other additional efforts, such as endowments or membership drives for nonprofits and operating activities such as sales.

How do people find out about grants in their area?

To find out about grants in their area, people need to be plugged in to the network, like working for a nonprofit organization that gets reports regularly of funding opportunities in their area, or by subscribing to a grant database like GrantWatch.

Those eligible to apply for Project Drive grants include any project that will help make the community a better place. Previous recipients of grant funds include: technology, electronics, playground equipment for schools; books and supplies for libraries; equipment/appliances for local organizations; building materials for facility renovations; and training materials for support groups. 

Foundation and corporation grants can be found on GrantWatch.  Be sure to change location on the navigation bar so that all grants listed will be for your location. Here are two examples of foundation grants:

Grants to New Jersey Employers, Nonprofits, IHEs, and 
Agencies to Develop and Expand Apprenticeship Programs
: Deadline: 3/1/2019

Grants of up to $80,000 to New Jersey employers, nonprofits, trade associations, labor and workforce organizations, LEAs, vocational schools, workforce development boards, and IHEs to expand and develop approved apprenticeship programs. Funding is intended to cover wage reimbursement and training costs, and to provide incentives to employees to hire registered apprentices. 

Grants to USA Nonprofits, Schools, and Agencies in 
Multiple States for Education and Economic Development
: Ongoing

Grants to USA nonprofits, schools, IHEs, faith-based organizations, and government agencies in multiple States for programs in the area's quality early childhood education, affordable housing, community development and revitalization, community services, and arts and culture. 

Grant award recipients were announced during their annual company Thanksgiving gathering.  Project Drive, founded in 2007 by G.L. Huyett, is part of a comprehensive community improvement program that awards grants of up to $50,000 for any one project to a non-profit individual, institution, or organization seeking to improve a North Central Kansas community. 

Project Drive started with $1,000, grew to $5,000 in 2010, and increased to $25,000 in 2015 thanks to contributions from private donors. In 2018, Project Drive awarded $59,022 to 11 projects in Cloud, Ottawa, and Saline Counties.

Project Drive's awards this year provide funds to impact a library, adult day care, veteran’s memorial, after-school program, senior meal delivery program, food banks, low-income families and individuals, and several community organizations.  

2018 Project Drive Grant Recipients

Front row (from left): Barb Young, North Salina Community Development, Inc.; Stephanie McAlister, Glasco Community Recreation Board; Peggy Crippen, Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas; Mary Hrabe, Community Thrift & Care; and Joyce Roe, Gypsum Community Library. Back row (from left): Larry Betrand, Golden Wheel Senior Center; Lindsay Huenefeld, Sunflower Adult Day Services; Doug Plummer, Minneapolis Noon Lions Club #7127; Demerle Eckart, Friends of Culver; Kay Good, Tescott United Methodist Church; and Becky Selm, G.L. Huyett Charities.

Gypsum Community Library – $1,500 to purchase family friendly movies and books for their children’s story hour and summer reading program in Gypsum, KS.
Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas – $3,500 was awarded for the purchase of a commercial freezer that will save space and allow more shelving for dry goods in Salina, KS.
North Salina Community Development, Inc. – $3,542 will assist in repurposing eight more donated newspaper racks into “Little Libraries” to be placed at CityGo bus stops in northern Salina, KS.
Friends of Culver – $3,170 will assist in purchasing new storm windows and insulation for an abandoned house to rent out and then to use the rent to fund community projects in Culver, KS.
Minneapolis Noon Lions Club #7127 – $6,657 will purchase 14 high-quality maintenance free trashcans to replace the dilapidated ones in downtown Minneapolis, KS.
Community Thrift & Care – $2,500 to replace the roof on the Community Thrift & Care in Minneapolis, KS.
Sunflower Adult Day Services – $3,250 to purchase a refrigerator, stove, and upright to replace worn out ones at a day care facility for seniors or disabled adults in Salina, KS.
Glasco Community Recreation Board – $3,000 will help to repair and restore the Glasco Youth & Family Center building Glasco, KS.
Tescott United Methodist Church – $1,128 was awarded to purchase a laptop, projector, screen, and speaker for an after-school program in Tescott, KS.
Golden Wheel Senior Center – $880 to purchase a commercial ice machine, microwave, and six insulated food carriers for their Meals on Wheels service in Minneapolis, KS.
G.L. Huyett Charities – $29,815 to build a raised bed garden to grow fresh produce for local food banks or families in need in Minneapolis, KS.

Nonprofits, educators, small businesses, and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for corporation and foundation grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.



About the Author: The author is a staff writer for Grant News.


When You See or Hear Hate Speech, Don’t Ignore It

The deadliest attack on the 11 innocent Jewish people at a prayer service at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Parkland shooter who murdered innocent children and their teacher at a school in Florida, the person who sent bombs to high level Dems, and the Monday October 29th school shooter in North Carolina, all had two things in common.  All had mental health issues, and all had a history of posting hateful, incendiary messages on social media platforms laced with misinformation and conspiracy theories.

What can you do, when you see something?  Would anyone have been able to deter these crimes by calling attention to their social media posts or their suspicious actions? Hindsight is twenty-twenty, so how do we get ahead of these deadly criminals. 

The creator of the mail bombs was driving a van plastered with hateful images and carried large duffle bags into work and no one ever stopped him or questioned him. As a good citizen of the world, it's our responsibility to be aware of our surroundings and report when we see suspicious actitivity.

"Be a good citizen of the world. Free speech is not hate speech," said Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch. "Be aware of threats, be alert online and around your physical surroundings, where you work and live and where you visit. As a good citizen, report anything that seems suspicious.  There are opportunities to join local chapters and partnerships with organizations like the Department of Homeland Security, InfraGard and others, or run your own programs. Organizations and businesses can look for homeland security funding on GrantWatch or MWBEzone for grants to increase security and programs to help support their employees, members and participants with training to handle emergency situations and in coping with traumatic events."  

Target hardening is a term used by police officers, those working in security, and the military referring to the strengthening of the security of a building or installation in order to protect it in the event of attack. Follow the link for Homeland & National Security funding to improve security and train staff.

The following grant is currently available to provide funding to assist with support for recovery in communities following violent and traumatic attacks.

Grants to USA LEAs and IHEs to Support School Communities Following Violent and Traumatic Events, ongoing

Grants to USA local education agencies and institutions of higher education to assist the school community in restoring a learning environment following a traumatic or violent event. Schools may request short-term assistance to address an acute need as well as longer-term recovery assistance. 

The organization Share Some Good has some good recommendations about effective ways to respond to and prevent hate speech.  ( They recommend reporting the inciteful or hate-speech postings to the appropriate channels at that social media company and taking a pro-active stance against hate. If the site administrators determine that the post is considered hate speech, it may be removed. “The more reports they receive of hateful content, the more pressured they feel to remove it." 

FYI: When you are on social media and you “unfriend” or stop “following” a person or group, it gets them out of your sphere of awareness, but it does not alert the authorities of a potential threat. The evidence shows that often anti-social behavior combined with hate related social media posts have been the precursor to gun violence, terror attacks, deadly hate crimes, or shootings.

You can find instructions on how to report hate speech via the step-by-step How to Guides (, offered by the Online Hate Prevention Institute. They can help you find the best way to report hateful posts on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google, and directions on online safety and security. OHPI aims to, “get technology companies and governments to recognize and take action against hate speech." The Online Hate Prevention Institute has reporting guides on how to report a Facebook image, page, post or comment, a YouTube video, user, channel, or comment, and a Twitter status (Tweet) or user, or a Google+ post, comment or community page. In addition, they have directions on how to secure your access and your information on Facebook and Google. 

If you see a serious threat, or a post that's inciteful, report it to the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI. 

Homeland Security urges citizens to get involved in their campaigns, “If You See Something, Say Something,”  “Stop. Think. Connect.” and the “Citizen Corps”. “If you see something, say something,” is a national campaign that raises public awareness of the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, as well as the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement.  “Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to strengthening hometown security by creating partnerships with state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments and the private sector, as well as the communities they serve,” according to their website.

The "Stop. Think. Connect" Campaign is a national public awareness effort that increases understanding of cyber threats and empowers the American public to be safer and more secure online. It encourages people to view internet safety as a shared responsibility – at home, in the workplace, and in our communities.

The Citizen’s Corp empowers individuals through education, training, and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds.

They recommend that we all plan so we're ready for disasters, stay informed and even participate in active shooter training
Recognize the Signs

Recognize the Signs of Suspicious Activity.

  • Expressed or implied threat
  • Surveillance
  • Theft/Loss/Diversion
  • Testing or probing of security
  • Aviation Activity
  • Breach/Attempted intrusion
  • Acquisition of expertise
  • Eliciting information
  • Misrepresentation
  • Cyberattack
  • Recruiting/financing
  • Sabotage/Tampering/Vandalism
  • Materials acquisition/Storage
  • Weapons Collection/Storage
  • Sector-Specific incident


Be Alert, Be Aware, Report 

Suspicious activity is any observed behavior that could indicate terrorism or terrorism-related crime. This includes, but is not limited to:

·         Unusual items or situations: A vehicle is parked in an odd location, a package/luggage is unattended, a window or door is open that is usually closed, or other out-of-the-ordinary situations occur.

·         Eliciting information: A person questions individuals at a level beyond curiosity about a building’s purpose, operations, security procedures and/or personnel, shift changes, etc.

·         Observation/surveillance: Someone pays unusual attention to facilities or buildings beyond a casual or professional interest. This includes extended loitering without explanation – particularly in concealed locations; unusual, repeated, and/or prolonged observation of a building (i.e. with binoculars or a video camera), taking notes or measurements; counting paces; sketching floor plans, etc.

Some of these activities could be innocent, but they’re worthy of reporting. Law enforcement can then determine whether the behavior warrants investigation, but they can't do anything to stop it if they don’t know about it. Better be safe than sorry. The above list is not all-inclusive, but those examples have been compiled by Homeland Security based on studies of pre-operational aspects of both successful and thwarted terrorist events over several years. “If You See Something, Say Something” emphasizes behavior and activity rather than personal appearance in identifying what is suspicious.

While due to privacy and freedom of speech laws the FBI does not monitor sites without just cause, individuals and organizations can work with them through InfraGard, a partnership between the FBI and members of the private sector. The InfraGard program provides a vehicle for seamless public-private collaboration with government that expedites the timely exchange of information and promotes mutual learning opportunities relevant to the protection of Critical Infrastructure. With thousands of vetted members nationally, InfraGard’s membership includes business executives, entrepreneurs, military and government officials, computer professionals, academia and state and local law enforcement; each dedicated to contributing industry specific insight and advancing national security.

The mission of the InfraGard Program is to foster collaboration and information sharing that enhances our collective ability to address threats to the United States’ critical infrastructure through a robust private-sector/ government partnership.

The over-arching goal of InfraGard is to promote ongoing dialogue and timely communication between members and the FBI. InfraGard members gain access to information enabling them to protect their assets and in turn, give information to the government in order to prevent and address terrorism, cyber threats, and other crimes.

The best way to get social media posts taken down is to report them.

The New York Times addressed this issue Tuesday in an article by Sheera Frenkel, Mike Isaac and Kate Conger, “On Instagram, 11,696 Examples of How Hate Thrives on Social Media.

“Social media companies have created, allowed and enabled extremists to move their message from the margins to the mainstream,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, a nongovernmental organization that combats hate speech. “In the past, they couldn’t find audiences for their poison. Now, with a click or a post or a tweet, they can spread their ideas with a velocity we’ve never seen before.”

Facebook has started “actively reviewing hashtags and content related to these events and removing content that violates our policies,” according to Sarah Pollack, a Facebook spokeswoman. T

YouTube has strict policies prohibiting content that promotes hatred or incites violence and takes down videos that violate those rules, so they are a good partner to report to. They will take your request seriously.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, recently told the New York Times that although the company’s longtime principle was free expression, it was discussing how “safety should come first.”

How to Report Suspicious Activity:

Public safety is everyone’s responsibility. Report suspicious activity to local law enforcement or a person of authority in a clear way, describing what you’ve observed including:

Who or what you saw, when you saw it; where you saw it; where it occurred; and why it’s suspicious.

If there’s an emergency, Call 9-1-1. 

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for GrantWatch.


Is this Name Changer a Game Changer? For Purpose vs Nonprofit

Can an ordinary person create extraordinary change? According to Adam Braun in his bestseller, The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change, the answer is a decided "yes".  Each chapter in this book highlights one clear step that every person can take to turn their highest ambitions into reality and make their life a story worth telling.

On, when you start a purposeful fundraiser for any and every purpose, you get to write what is called the "back story" of your purpose.

Why start a nonprofit in our capitalistic society? Braun had a "lightning moment" as he describes what changed the course of his life. That moment in time led to his writing this purpose guide-book and to his founding the Pencils of Promise Foundation in 2008 at age 25, leaving behind a promising career at a top investment firm.

Braun proposes that the terms "for-purpose" and "profitable purpose," be used to describe nonprofits and for profit corporations respectively.  He goes on to explain that the term nonprofit is a misnomer giving the wrong impression to would-be donors and participants.

The Promise of a Pencil

One of Braun’s (and his organization’s) most deeply held conviction is: “every child should have access to quality education”. This conviction was shaped while he was attending a Semester at Sea program as a junior, in college. As he traveled Adam asked other young people what they wanted most in life. While docked in India, he saw a young boy begging on the streets and stopped to ask the boy what he wanted the most, and this little boy said, “A pencil!.” Braun then reached into his backpack and gave him a pencil of his own. This small act of generosity could have been forgotten. Instead, this moment propelled Adam to action and changed the trajectory of his life.

From an initial $25 of his own money, Pencils of Promise grew beyond just providing pencils, to build over 489 schools around the world: The foundation's programs are currently educating over 95,873 students.  

And what sets Pencils of Promise apart from other nonprofit organizations? They promise “100% for purpose”, “100% direct giving,” and “100% operational integrity", (and) “100% transparency.” Pencils of Promise is guided by this “revolutionary” “for-purpose” approach.  “Blend the head of a for-profit business with the heart of a humanitarian nonprofit, we rigorously measure the return on investment of every donor dollar we spend. Joy and passion are great, but results are what we’re all about.”

Donors can never truly be sure of where their money is going. By covering their operational costs through private donors, events and companies, 100% of every dollar donated online can go directly into programs to educate children.

According to their website: “We don’t just build a school and move on, we monitor and evaluate every project we undertake. We have a proactive process to ensure every school we open is educating students.”

One of the drawbacks of the term “nonprofit” (a legal tax designation) is that it can creates a misconception surrounding purpose and revenue. “Nonprofits” actually need to make a profit or they cease to exist, just like for-profit companies except it’s usually a longer, slower, more drawn out and painful death.

In addition, while thinking like a “nonprofit,” many organizations fail to emphasize good business practices. They consider the idea of being profitable as somehow being morally wrong. All “profits” can go to funding the work the organization is doing and for their operating expenses, and to keeping the organization operating “in the black.” When good business practices aren’t a priority, the nonprofit will eventually implode.

Braun conceptualized a new way of looking at “for-purpose” organizations. He built a huge following by proposing that 501C3s not use the term “nonprofit,” but instead adopt a positive, affirming term that focuses on what’s really important.

The following lead statement is from the Forbes article entitled, A New Nonprofit Model: Meet The Charitable Startups:

Startup companies are traditionally for-profit enterprises, but in recent years philanthropic ventures have begun adopting the technological know-how and scrappy mentality of startups to develop a new breed of lean nonprofits.

Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise refers to Pencils of Promise as a "for-purpose organization" rather than nonprofit. He insists they remain focused on the bottom line – instead of gross profit, its "gross efficacy.” Braun believes that nonprofits can learn from big business.

Braun said, “Across both startups and the not-for-profit sector, people are driven by intense passion around purpose and mission – they are there because they believe the company is doing something that wasn’t there before.”

“Entrepreneurs have a ludicrously large vision to change the world but have the humility to be solving very clear pain points,” agreed Ted Gonder, founder of Moneythink, a nonprofit which teaches financial literacy to inner city students. “All these things are also true of nonprofits.” …

“Startups test new innovations and are always evolving – I think that that’s really, really important for any organization.”

So, if you lead, work or volunteer for a nonprofit, maybe it’s time to change the way you think about your operational model. Maybe it’s time to start learning from startup businesses, big corporations, and perhaps partnering with for-profit organizations in more ways than simply asking for donations?

In founding Pencils of Promise Braun adopted the term “For Purpose,” and the idea that in some ways, all companies should be “for purpose” corporations as well.   What’s the purpose of your organization or business?

Whether you choose to adopt Braun’s term or come up with another entirely, isn’t purpose the real focus of your organization or institution? Let’s focus on what we are, not what we’re not.

Many ways exist to raise funds for causes one believes in. Start a purposeful fundraiser to raise money for a charity or business on For more information contact or call (888) 240-1494.  




About the Author: Staff writer for GrantWatch.


Hurricane Michael: What You Can Do Now

As Hurricane Michael continues to wreak havoc along its path, disaster relief efforts have already begun on site and behind the scenes. Organizations such as Save the Children, the Salvation Army, Gleaning for the World, Chabad Lubavitch Organization, The Humane Society, World Vision, and the American Red Cross, have started fundraising campaigns open for donations and volunteers to come and rebuild. They’re readying relief supplies and identifying church partners in potentially affected areas allowing them to mobilize as quickly as possible once it’s safe to begin restoration efforts.

Leading disaster relief organization World Vision recommends praying and giving as the top ways to help those affected by Hurricane Michael.

When disaster strikes, World Vision is often one of the first organizations to respond across the United States. Their relief workers connect with partners — including religious institutions — in affected regions to help hard-hit communities. They are continually preparing for the next disaster by equipping their field sites and partners to help those affected by tornadoes, floods, storms, wildfires, and other disasters across the country. They also remain long after disasters have faded from the headlines helping communities rebuild. 

Their prayer: “Almighty Father, we ask for Your care and protection for people in the path of Hurricane Michael. Give them the assurance of Your presence and equip those who will provide relief and assistance after the storm passes.  Strengthen the minds and bodies of first responders for the days ahead.”

Strengthen mind and body of first responders

If you’ve been affected by the hurricane and need assistance, contact them or FEMA and your insurance company to set the process in motion to receive aid. To find additional funding for yourself, your organization or others in need, there are some grants available for hurricane relief on with the key words Hurricane and disaster-relief-grants.

For immediate assistance, there are shelters available but they’re filling up quickly. Shelters in Dothan, Florida, and some others in the panhandle and across south Alabama are some of the closest for evacuees.

The two main shelters in Dothan are Wiregrass Church at 900 West Main Street and the First Baptist Church shelter at 300 West Main Street. Both have plenty of cots and food and both still have room if you need assistance. 

There are three American Red Cross shelters in other areas of Alabama open now.   Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 6610 Vaughn Rd, Montgomery, Ozark Civic Center, 302 East College St, Ozark, 36360 and Robertsdale Coliseum, 19477 Fairground Rd, Robertsdale, 36567

The Dothan, Florida shelters have family areas and places where children can play.


Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, about 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Panama City in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 storm early Wednesday afternoon with tree-snapping winds and towering waves that flooded whole beach towns.  Maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (249 kph) according to Reuters News Service, have been recorded in the storm’s eye wall. It is the first Category 4 storm in recorded history to make landfall in the northeast Gulf Coast. Its sustained winds were just 2 mph (3.2 kph) shy of the highest, Category 5.

Coastal areas could see up to a foot of rain, winds above 130 mph, and storm surges of 14 feet. The storm is expected to track through Georgia and the Carolinas as it moves inland Wednesday and Thursday, bringing more wind and rain to areas affected by Hurricane Florence.  

“This is the worst storm that our Florida Panhandle has seen in a century,” Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday morning.

"Unfortunately, this is a hurricane of the worst kind," said Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Here's what makes Hurricane Michael especially dangerous:

It's the strongest hurricane to ever hit Florida's panhandle

Michael crashed onto Florida's coast Wednesday with 155 mph winds — strong enough to demolish houses.

Those kinds of winds "are above typical building codes," Long said. Even with the tougher standards in the Florida Building Code, set in place after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, older homes aren’t built to withstand a hurricane of this magnitude.

Hurricane Michael began in the southwest Caribbean Sea and was first monitored by the National Hurricane Center on October 2. It strengthened from a tropical storm to a hurricane by October 8. Warnings were sent out to 20 counties to head towards higher ground, but those who hadn’t left their homes by early Wednesday morning were told it was too late to leave.

You can start your own campaign for those affected by the storm on our crowdfunding website,

Local municipalities, nonprofits, religious institutions, community-based groups and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities in support of hurricane and other disaster relief initiatives at and MWBEzone.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.




About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantNews


Grant Supports Emergency Preparedness in Indian Country

Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA), a nonprofit, recently received a $700,000 grant to support emergency preparedness efforts in Indian Country. PWNA is committed to serving immediate needs and supporting long-term solutions for Native Americans living in reservation communities, recently announced new initiatives to help communities on the Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River and Crow Creek reservations in South Dakota be better prepared when an emergency strikes. For more information visit the PWNA website

“More than 90,000 Native Americans in the U.S. are homeless, and 40 percent of Native Americans live in substandard, overcrowded housing, especially on the economically-distressed reservations PWNA serves,” said Robbi Rice Dietrich, CEO of PWNA. “Through these efforts, local leaders will be better equipped to assist their tribal communities and displaced residents when environmental emergencies and natural disaster occur.”

The physical environment of Northern Plains and Southwest reservations can give rise to floods, forest fires, blizzards, ice storms, and more. Some communities also experience acute or chronic contaminated-water emergencies. When disaster relief is needed, PWNA responds quickly to tribes in and often beyond its 12-state service area. PWNA also assists reservation shelters for the homeless, elderly, disabled, veterans, children and others.

PWNA will advance emergency preparedness in tribal communities through training, networked collaboration and access to resources. Specific objectives include:

  • Expanding preparedness projects underway on the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River reservations
  • Extending preparedness projects to Crow Creek Reservation in the Northern Plains
  • Developing an emergency preparedness model curriculum and resource guide based on key success factors relevant to tribal communities
  • Developing a “cultural sensitivity” curriculum for other relief organizations able to provide disaster and emergency services to tribal communities
  • Addressing training needs for Native case managers and disaster recovery teams to assist with long-term recovery efforts in tribal communities

These new initiatives are made possible through a grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

September is National Preparedness Month and has many grants listed under the key word preparedness, and additional grants listed under the categories of disaster relief and homeland security, to help communities prepare. 

For additional information:

About the Author: Rafael Tapia is vice president of programs for Partnership With Native Americans, a nonprofit committed to championing hope for a brighter future for Native Americans, affiliated with the Pascua tribe. Tapia has more than 25 years of experience in human, economic, workforce, and community development with social service and behavioral health programs.

Grants Support Musicians, Performing Artists, Venues To Spur Economy and Create Music Hubs

An effort is underway to crank up the music in Denver.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock believes music-based initiatives can be an agent for quality of life improvements, economic development, education and diversity. That’s why grants through the Denver Music Advancement Fund of up to $7,500 – totaling $80,000 – are being offered for strategies that leverage local talent and resources and position the city as a world-class hub for the performing arts.

The Denver Music Advancement Fund is supported by a community-led platform that includes investments from Denver Arts & Venues and partners at Illegal Pete’s and LivWell Enlightened Health.

Music has become a major part of Denver culture, thanks, in part, to Red Rocks, which Rolling Stone Magazine calls America’s best amphitheater. Not surprisingly the, music industry has created more than 8,500 jobs and $842.4 million in revenue, according to analysis by the Denver Music Strategy. The study also found that music has become one of Denver’s fastest growing industries in the area for employment, surpassing energy, aerospace and biotech.

But in a city where an exploding population and economic forces like the tech sector and the cannabis business are driving up real estate prices, many musicians are struggling to make ends meet.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of and the business and individual grants website,, said funds are available from foundations, corporations and local agencies to level the playing field for emerging talent and fledgling programs that support musicians and the performing arts. GrantWatch provides the platform for venues, musicians, promoters, studios, and educators to identify these music grants and promote artistic growth while fostering partnerships that build and maintain a music sector.

Michael Seman, director of creative industries research and policy in the College of Arts & Media at the University of Colorado Denver, said a healthy music scene attracts innovation.

No city knows better than Nashville, where the music industry supports more than 56,000 jobs in the area and impacts the local economy by some $10 billion annually. But, the “Music City” is not without neighbors. Other locations throughout North America have joined Denver and are taking a hard look at how music can spur job creation, economic growth and tourism while strengthening brand.

Affordable housing and securing places for musicians to play and rehearse will be at the core of Vancouver’s strategy. The City Council recently unanimously approved immediate measures to improve the city’s music ecology, with plans for a comprehensive plan to be announced next year. The actions, which included $400,000 in grants for music-focused projects, were prompted by a report that valued Vancouver’s music industry at $690 million. In terms of economic impact, the induced Gross Value Added (GVA) from music is expected to be more than $1.5 billion.

Musicians, music festivals, and venues in Vancouver were also found to generate more than “$172 million per year in additional revenue” through restaurants, parking, accommodations, and other hospitality services while supporting some 14,450 jobs.

Musicians, venues, nonprofits, community-based groups and municipalities frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities in support of culture and the performing arts that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch

Grants Fund Strategies To Mitigate Risk For Urban Areas Vulnerable To Raging Wildfires

At first, he heard the screams on the other end of the line. Then the phone went dead as Donald Kewley watched the flames draw nearer to his neighbor’s home. The next day, Kewley learned that the two young children and their grandmother, all of whom he tried to warn of the encroaching fire the night before, did not get out of their home in Redding alive.

The latest wildfire to rage across Northern California has killed at least eight people including two fire firefighters, destroyed some 1,000 homes and buildings, and scorched more than 260,000 acres in just a few days. Many more homes in the area are threatened.

That should not come as a surprise. Studies suggest that more Americans are choosing to live in areas prone to devastating wildfires. Some 43 million homes are in what scientists call the “wildland-urban interface", where residential homes are built on wildland vegetation, such as trees and shrubs.

Fire experts and climatologists says the current fire, which began in a rural community before roaring through the neighborhoods of Redding — a city of some 92,000 residents about 250 miles north of San Francisco – proves how vulnerable urban areas are to wildfires.

Hotter weather is drying out vegetation, creating intense fires that spread quickly from rural areas to city subdivisions, where wildland-urban interface has put these communities in destruction’s path. In just the past year, fires have devastated neighborhoods in the Northern California wine country city of Santa Rosa and the Southern California beach city of Ventura.

That’s enough of a reminder to prompt city leaders to call for more funding from the state legislature that would enable firefighters to respond more quickly to areas where conditions are ripe for a fast-moving blaze to start.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said funds are available to assist these interface communities mitigate the unique risks they face from wildfires. posts these funding opportunities aimed at reducing hazardous fuel, and providing information and education, assessment and planning, and monitoring through community and landowner action.

While these grants fund strategies from the National Wildfire Plan to manage risk, on another front, lawmakers are debating who should pay for the billions of dollars in damage. Disaster relief is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for individuals and public organizations.

For individuals, the maximum FEMA grant is $32,000. That money can be used to repair or replace a damaged or destroyed home, vehicle or other property as well as cover costs for short-term living expenses. The catch is that FEMA grants can only be applied toward an expense not already covered by another government agency or insurance.

The “Carr Fire,” the most formidable of 17 blazes currently raging in California and among 94 across the United States from Texas to Alaska, was started by a spark from a malfunctioning vehicle at the intersection of iconic Highway 299 and Carr Powerhouse Road in Redding. Officials say the blaze is already one of the 10 most destructive fires in California history. Last year, wildfires in California killed 44 people, burned more than 500,000 acres and cost the state some $9 billion in insurance claims.

Meanwhile, firefighters struggle to contain the active blazes across the nation as concern spreads all over the world for the victims left in the wake of these ravaging infernos. So far, citizens from 50 states and 18 countries have dug deep into their pockets to make donations to crowdfunding campaigns that support California residents affected by the Carr Fire., a free crowdfunding website, where money raised for causes goes directly and immediately to the people who need help. Organizers who launch a crowdfunding campaign on YouHelp must provide detailed information about where the funds will go and how they will be spent.

About the Author: Staff Writer for

Literacy Grant Helps Nonprofit Break Down Prison Walls to Little Readers in Georgia

Every three months, Ann Van Pelt sits down in front of a video camera to read a story to her 10-year-old daughter. Van Pelt is serving a drug-related sentence at the Probation Detention Center, in Zebulon, Ga., and the Little Readers program is one of the few ways she connects to her “princess” while incarcerated.

HeartBound Ministries, which coordinates the literacy program, will continue to bridge the gap that separates incarcerated parents and their children through a $50,000 grant from the Gannett Foundation. The grant, under the foundation's "A Community Thrives" initiative," was one of 12 awarded to nonprofit organizations that aim to improve communities with projects centered around wellness, education, or arts and culture.

Andrea Sheldon, president of HeartBound Ministries, said, she “started crying” and “broke out in chill bumps” when she learned that the Georgia-based nonprofit had received a grant to continue to ensure time in prison is well-served.

But, the good news should not stop there. Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said thousands of dollars are available to nonprofits across the nation to help empower local communities. GrantWatch posts these funding opportunities including grants that address adult or childhood literacy.

About 75,000 children in Georgia have a parent in prison. Those children who experience paternal incarceration between ages 1 and 5 are more likely to be retained in grades K – 3. At least 38 correctional facilities in Georgia have participated in the Little Readers program and book club, reaching more than 4,650 children and 2,400 inmates.

Parents like Van Pelt who participate in the Little Readers program can pick out a shirt to wear, which allows them to feel and appear more comfortable before their children on video. Children, on the other hand, receive not only the DVD, but also a copy of the book being read, a personalized bookmark, literary resources, and other valuable tools to help them connect with their loved one.

Van Pelt, who has been away from her daughter for seven months, said the volunteer efforts of the program has strengthened her faith in humanity.

“To think that people set aside time to help me have a bond with my daughter,” she said. “is just amazing.”

Nonprofits, educators, small businesses, and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants that promote literacy and boost reading and writing skills can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.




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Domino’s Pizza Grants Go Heavy on Asphalt To Repair U.S. Roadways, One Pothole At A Time

The world’s largest pizza company has come up with a new initiative that might seem anything but cheesy to municipalities across the United States.

Domino’s is offering grants to towns to help fill their “cracks, bumps and potholes” and make their roadways smoother. The Michigan-based pizza maker said the program was started to protect carryout orders from roads that are in poor condition and in need of repairs. Grants for roads can be found here.

“We can’t stand by and let your cheese slide to one side, your toppings get untopped or your boxes get flipped,” the initiative, dubbed “Paving for Pizza,” boasts. “So, we’re helping to pave towns across the country to save your pizza from these bad roads.”

Domino’s “Paving for Pizza” grants have already been awarded to Bartonville, Texas; Milford, Dela.; Athens, Ga.; and Burbank, Calif. In Milford, City Manager Eric Norenberg said Dominos grants helped fix 40 potholes in 10 hours. Other towns will be considered for grants based on customer nominations.

Potholes cause millions of dollars in vehicle damage, a large portion of highway deaths and ongoing headaches for motorists and municipalities. But, a good portion of the nation’s major roadways are beyond potholes. They are in such poor condition that many sections of interstates, freeways and major arterial roadways need to be completely rebuilt.

Domino’s is not the first fast food chain to attempt this approach. In 2009, Kentucky Fried Chicken selected five American towns to receive between $3,000 and $5,000 to fix potholes.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said millions of dollars in grants are available for projects that address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. But, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. would need to spend $4.5 trillion by 2025 to fix its ailing infrastructure; $2 trillion of that is for roads and streets alone.

The Trump administration has promised nearly $1.5 billion in grants to help rebuild highways, bridges and railroads around the country. However, those proposals are likely to be delayed until after the midterm elections.

In the meantime, Domino's is determined to save a pizza, one pothole at a time.

Municipalities, nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants to support civic initiatives including infrastructure projects can identify infrastructure grants that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at Sign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer for