The Lowndes County Foundation issued a challenge to its six volunteer task forces Thursday, announcing a pool of $30,000 in grants meant to help their initiatives.
First, though, each task force has to raise some money on their own.
From a “community conversation” held in March 2018, LCF formed six task forces of community stakeholders — focused on community engagement, education proficiency, leadership, poverty, crime and addiction, respectively. The endeavor was meant, in part, to help LCF award its grant funds in the most impactful way.
In a press release Thursday, LCF asks its task forces to raise funds for their chosen nonprofit or project, and the foundation will match 50 percent of those funds up to $5,000. The fundraising deadline for each task force is Dec. 3.
“We got together and we had discussed for a while about how we can multiply our impact,” said Matt Bogue, LCF board chairman. “We got these task forces engaged and running and they are doing great things in the community. We kept thinking, how can we take our modest resources and try to multiply it and have a bigger impact? What if we made our task forces also responsible for raising funds and we could multiply our influence? We came up with a challenge grant.
“This grant is simply a way to encourage the community at large to get involved, to take things in their own hands and make a difference,” he added.
LCF, a local affiliate of the Tupelo-based CREATE Foundation, has awarded more than $109,000 among 37 organizations/projects in Lowndes County since 2005.
Jason Spears, Columbus Municipal School District board president and leader of the education task force, said the grant funds will help with the Excel by 5 project. Excel by 5 is a community-based certification to prepare children, from birth to age five, for success in education.
Spears said the task force will start fundraising efforts once they identify exactly how those funds will be allocated. All funds have to be raised by Dec. 3, in order to be matched by LCF.
“There are plenty of people who raise funds in that time,” Spears said. “Before we try to do a fundraising effort, we want to make sure we have everything in place. Education was a far first from everything else so I would hope that once we do get everything organized, people will see this will be just one more step in achieving goals that were identified as problems. They will be willing to donate to the cause we have identified to help.”
Leroy Brooks, District 5 Lowndes County supervisor who is leading the crime task force, also said raising funds by that date would be possible. Since the grant was just announced, Brooks said the task force hasn’t named a project yet but will meet for discussions.
“I think there’s some ideas that could impact the county in a positive way and you need to get people to buy into it,” Brooks said. “People tend to donate money in things they believe in. If there’s a worthwhile project, there may be people willing to donate. I’m a positive person in that way. I don’t want to speak prematurely for the crime prevention task force, but I’m hoping when we get together there will be something tangible (for people to donate to).”
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