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Aerial view of downtown Yellow Springs in early August. (Drone photo by Bryan Cady)

Yellow Springs nonprofits receive county grants

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The Greene County Board of Commissioners granted over $150,000 to eight local nonprofits through the Greene County Nonprofit grant program, a program created by the Commissioners to disburse American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, dollars the county received from the federal government.

According to Eric Henry, development director for the Greene County Department of Development, the grant program is “a perfect vehicle for partnering with local organizations already doing good work in Greene County each and every day.”

The eight nonprofits that received grant money were Yellow Springs Senior Citizens Inc., the organization behind the Senior Center; Friends Health Care Association; Yellow Springs Community Children’s Center; Antioch College; Miami Valley Public Media, the media organization behind 91.3 WYSO; the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce; the Yellow Springs Community Foundation; and the Yellow Springs Arts Council.

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Grant awards ranged from $8,000 to $25,000, with $25,000 being the most a nonprofit could request from the county. Henry said the amounts awarded were determined by the amount each nonprofit requested and how well the nonprofit’s intended use of the money adhered to guidelines set by the federal government.

“Scoring differed across organizations as factors such as community impact, adherence to ARPA guidelines [and other factors] were used to qualitatively guide the Board of County Commissioners in selecting organizations to give grants to,” Henry wrote in a recent email to the News.

The News was able to speak with representatives of several of the receiving organizations to hear what they plan to do with the grant money.

Caroline Mullin, the executive director of the Senior Center, said some of the $8,000 the center received will be used to stabilize funding after the center suspended membership fees during the height of the pandemic.

“Some YSSC members did choose to pay membership dues in any case, but the net loss was about $8,000 from a typical year,” Mullin said.

The remainder of the funds will be used to complete modifications on a van for the Senior Center. The modifications will allow the center’s volunteers to transport members who use wheelchairs.

The van was purchased earlier this year with grant funds from the Greene County Council on Aging, and preliminary modifications have already been made.

“This is the first time YSSC has had a vehicle that provides rides to individuals in wheelchairs,” Mullin said.

Friends Health Care Association, the group that operates Friends Care Community of Yellow Springs, received $25,000. The News was unable to contact representatives from Friends Care by press time, but a project overview from the Greene County Commissioners said Friends Care intends to use the funds to convert all of its semi-private long term care rooms into private rooms.

For Dana Zackey, director of the Yellow Springs Community Children’s Center, the grant money means that some of the village’s youngest residents will have an age-appropriate space to play outdoors. Zackey described the news of the grant as “exciting” and said that the money would be used to remodel the center’s toddler playground and create a third playground outfitted with developmentally appropriate toys for infants.

Adding services to benefit students is also the goal for Antioch College, which received a $25,000 grant. Matt Shetler, the director of communications, said the college will use the funds to bolster student mental health services.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and increased the need for health services, especially mental health resources for college students,” Shetler said.

Shetler said additional resources will be used to support faculty and staff with professional development that will “share knowledge around student support, teaching and learning as an academic community.”

Local radio station WYSO is looking to pay it forward with the ARPA funds they received. Katie Main, the business support accounts manager for WYSO, said that the $25,000 the station received will support WYSO’s new “Emerging Business Support” program, a program focused on Greene County businesses and nonprofits who are still feeling the effects of COVID-19 closures and restrictions.

According to Main, WYSO will work with five local businesses to create messaging that will be read by the hosts of WYSO programs “at no cost.”

“Small businesses were disproportionately affected by the closures and restrictions mandated during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of them still feel the effects,” Main said. “We are limiting the number of businesses that will receive these special packages so we can ensure that each one gets enough air time for their campaign to have the impact that comes from repetition.”

Other community organizations, such as the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce, will use funds to continue traditions that benefit local businesses. Ashley Mangen, Chamber of Commerce Treasurer, said the Chamber would use its $25,000 in grant funds to host the 2022 fall Street Fair.

“We are really grateful to the County Commissioners because this is money the Chamber really needed to recover from COVID-19’s impact,” Mangen said. “This money is going to help the Chamber get back on its feet after not being able to host a Street Fair since 2019.”

Mangen said the grant funds would be used to pay for a number of items, including accessible portable bathrooms, performances stages and sound systems.

Yellow Springs Community Foundation will use the $25,000 grant it received for startup costs associated with YS Equity, an effort focused on disbursing cash in the form of a universal basic income, or UBI, to the village’s low- to moderate-income households and unhoused population.

Len Kramer, a Miller Fellow working on YS Equity with the Community Foundation, said the funds would cover the cost of consultants familiar with starting UBI funds in other communities, and setting up an evaluation system so the group can measure its success and impact. Kramer said that more information on YS Equity would be publicly available in the coming weeks.

The Yellow Springs Arts Council received a grant for $13,600, which will go towards basic operation costs. The News was unable to contact a representative from the Arts Council by press time, but according to the project overview, the Arts Council plans to use ARPA funding for its “art after COVID” program, a “comprehensive community-based project intended to revitalize the Village of Yellow Springs with a fully staffed arts council.”

Reflecting on the process, Henry said the County Commissioners had a vision of spending ARPA dollars in a way that benefited community members directly.

“In creating this program, Greene County Commissioners wanted to invest in our communities by distributing ARPA funds in a way where every Greene County resident received some sort of tangible benefit from these federal dollars,” Henry said. “We have received nothing but positive feedback about the creation of this program and our department was honored to play a part in its administration.”


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