New grants offer help to local charities
At a time when many people in our community need help more than ever, the donations local nonprofits rely on have slowed down in a pandemic economy. Now the Marion County Board of County Commissioners and the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County are offering new grant assistance.
“We know our nonprofits have suffered during this time with decreased funding and increased service needs,” said Lauren Deiorio, president and executive director of the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County. “These new funding opportunities through the CARES Act and in partnership with Marion County will help sustain an already fragile situation. Our hope is to get dollars to the nonprofits with the greatest needs as quickly as possible.”
Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations that offer essential services to the Marion County community and have been negatively impacted by the pandemic may apply online if they have at least a two-year service history in the community, operating in full state and federal compliance.
There are four grant categories: Sustaining Critical Services Grants of up to $50,000 to cover operating expenses such as rent, utilities, and salaries; Supporting Safe Operations Grants of up to $25,000 to help offset costs associated with new social distancing guidelines and other service delivery modifications including PPE and disinfection supplies or technology required to provide services online; Nourishing the Community Grants of up to $25,000 to help offset costs associated with purchasing food to respond to increased demand for emergency food aid; and Responding to Other COVID-Related Needs grants up to $50,000.
Marion Senior Services, which provides meals, transportation and in-home support to senior citizens, received some funding through the CARES Act to help support its Warm Meals Warm Hearts program for financially/nutritionally disadvantages seniors. But that financing is not permanent, said Executive Director Jennifer Martinez.
“For this reason, and because we strongly want to continue to provide this service that warms the hearts of many Marion County seniors, we do intend to apply for grants, both now and in the future,” she said. She added that present needs include being able to fulfill technological requirements such as cell phones and laptop computers for case managers and assessors in the field as well as continued support to deliver hot meals.
“As with any nonprofit organization, the work is never done; as such, we always have needs in order to fulfill our community impact work,” Martinez explained. “We are also always open to accepting earmarked donations from private donors for this endeavor, as every little bit helps.”
The new grant opportunity comes at a time when many local organizations are struggling to make up losses and could use both help and hope.
“We named these grants ‘Stronger Marion Nonprofits’,” said Deiorio. “We know this pandemic has caused significant issues, but our hope is that we can come out of this a stronger community with stronger nonprofits!”
Visit www.ocalafoundation.org/stronger-marion-nonprofits to apply or find more information.