Community Foundation of the Ozarks Offers Challenge Grants for Rural Children’s Needs

by Aaron Scott, CFO

The Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation, in collaboration with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ Rural Schools Partnership, will offer two challenge grant opportunities to support the needs of school-age children in rural communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.

These grants, totaling $50,000, increase the commitment made by the Coover Charitable Foundation, managed by Commerce Trust Company, to the CFO’s COVID-related grantmaking. The Coover Charitable Foundation joined the CFO and Missouri Foundation for health in pledging a total of $1 million to the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, and $188,000 of this year’s Coover Regional Grantmaking Program was directed towards rural needs related to the pandemic.

The application period for the RSP challenge grants opens May 1 and runs through 5 p.m., Friday, May 29. Four grants of $5,000 and 12 grants of $2,500 are available. The challenge grants are a 1:1 match with local school, nonprofit, donor or community funding.

Eligible organizations with regional service areas primarily outside of Springfield, but within the CFO’s 58-county service area, are encouraged to apply. Apply at: cfozarks.org/applyforgrants

Preference will be given to the following areas of identified needs:

  • Food, nutrition, health and hygiene programs for kids
  • Instructional priorities, including equipment or technology needs to enhance distance learning; or costs associated with at-home learning, such as packets and workbooks
  • Childcare, including summer programs to supplement missed school days during the pandemic closures
  • Personal protective equipment to supplement current supplies, or backfill any supplies donated for first responders

Applicants can be schools, school foundations or nonprofits, including faith and civic IRS-equivalents, as long as the intent of the project is related to children’s educational needs. Grant decisions will be announced in June.

“With the onset of the new coronavirus, it became very apparent that we needed to restructure this year’s grant program to better meet the needs in our rural communities and schools as they deal with the emerging issues presented by the pandemic,” RSP Coordinator Dr. Julie Leeth said. “Business as usual is no longer the mantra.”

The Rural Schools Partnership was founded in 2009 to foster place-based learning with schools as anchors of their rural communities. The CFO encourages collaboration among schools, nonprofits and its network of 49 regional affiliate foundations.

Gifts to the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund can be made at cfozarks.org/donate. The CFO is covering processing fees for gifts made by credit card through June 30, 2020.

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