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The Delaware Community Foundation has awarded grants totaling $250,000 to four statewide, multi-agency initiatives to expand mentoring, empower financially vulnerable Delawareans and support the homeless.

Through the collaborative grant program, the DCF seeds organizations’ efforts to find creative, sustainable ways to work together for the benefit of the community. Past collaborative grants have resulted in several permanent alliances and organizations that continue to serve Delawareans, including the Delaware Anti-Hunger Coalition and the Delaware Aging Network.

The 2015 lead agencies and initiatives are:

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware, Inc.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware received $75,000 to collaborate with Children & Families First Delaware on expanding the Big Brothers Big Sisters and Wilmington Community Schools Mentoring Partnership program.

The mentoring program currently pairs mentors with about 275 low-income, at-risk students at Bancroft Elementary, Elbert-Palmer Elementary, Shortlidge Academy and Stubbs Elementary and in Wilmington. Mentors help increase student commitment, increase youth developmental assets and improve attendance.

The collaborative grant will make it possible to expand the program into Bayard Middle School to enable mentors to follow their elementary school mentees into middle school.

“We know from national research that students achieve the greatest benefits after being monitored 18 months or longer, and long-term, sustained mentoring is especially critical for these high-need Wilmington students,” said Mary P. Fox, executive director of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware, Inc.

Challenge Program
The Challenge Program received $75,000 to support the Eastside Rising Workforce Development program, which will provide 150 under- or unemployed adults from Wilmington’s Eastside neighborhood with job training, life skills instruction, academic enhancement, and case management services.

The Challenge Program will be leading the initiative with Eastside Rising, a coalition of the Central Baptist Community Development Corporation and nine other agencies. The goal of this program is to help a minimum of 15 adults in Wilmington’s Eastside neighborhood to complete a construction training program and at least 135 additional Eastside adults to receive work-readiness training and job counseling services.

“The Eastside Rising Workforce Development program will make an enduring impact on the Eastside community as currently disenfranchised people will be empowered, connected and then given the opportunity to contribute toward building, strengthening and revitalizing their own neighborhood,” said Andrew McKnight, executive director of the Challenge Program.

Food Bank of Delaware
The Food Bank of Delaware received $50,000 to support the Milford Culinary School program, which will provide 20 individuals in Kent County with training in the food service industry.

The Food Bank will be collaborating with four nonprofit agencies that will refer needy and underprivileged individuals including veterans, victims of domestic abuse, youth aging out of foster care, and individuals leaving incarceration.

Students will be enrolled in a 39-week program that involves classroom- and kitchen-based lessons, a two-week paid internship, and post-graduation student services including job coaching, alumni mentoring and skill enhancement.

“The true impact of this program is the success achieved by our graduates as they pursue their professional development within the culinary field,” said Chad Robinson, the Milford Culinary School director.

La Red Health Center
La Red Health Center received $50,000 to support its comprehensive case management program for the homeless, which aims to reduce the number of people on the streets and in emergency shelters, and to increase productivity and employability among the homeless in Sussex County.

The program involves identifying the homeless, providing individual case management assistance, housing placement, healthcare and life skills training. La Red Health Center is working in collaboration with Tap Faith, ACE Peer Resource Center and eight other organizations.

“An estimated 6,000 individuals are homeless in Delaware throughout a year,” said Kevin Loftus, La Red’s director of development, marketing and communications. “Now, on any given night, it is estimated that as many as 650 people experience homelessness in Sussex County, and many more individuals and families are at risk to experience homelessness.”

Initiatives funded during the DCF’s now-complete 2012-2014 cycle were the Mentors as Parent Partners program, led by the Delaware Mentoring Council; the Stewards of Children Sexual Child Abuse Prevention program, led by YMCA of Delaware; and the Stand By Me™ Financial Empowerment Program, led by the United Way of Delaware.

The Delaware Community Foundation’s collaborative grants are funded by earnings from the Foundation’s unrestricted fund. Gifts to the unrestricted fund can be made online by visiting and selecting “Unrestricted Fund.”

About the Delaware Community Foundation
The Delaware Community Foundation manages charitable funds for individuals and organizations, and distributes income from the funds as grants and scholarships throughout the First State and around the world. With approximately 1,200 funds, $285 million in assets and annual grants of about $13 million, the Foundation provides a lasting source of charitable funding to benefit Delawareans today and for generations to come. Since 1986, the foundation has been connecting people who care with the causes they care about, helping to make Delaware a better place to live and work. For information, please call 302.571.8004 or visit