OKC nonprofits’ fundraising could mean extra grant money
Six Oklahoma City organizations need your help as Gannett again partners with nonprofits across the country for it’s ‘A Community Thrives‘ fundraising program.
The 2021 class of Oklahoma nonprofits have a chance to receive a share of over $2 million in grant money. Their services range from resources to aid against hunger or improve education and civic engagement to championing environmental protection and developing opportunities for underserved communities.
The nonprofits each have a fundraising campaign that continues through Aug. 13. Qualifying winners receive money and a chance to advance for larger regional and national grants. Smaller incentive grants are also available for unique donors and the most raised each week.
In 2020, Oklahoma City’s Positive Tomorrows received $17,500 and Allied Arts of Oklahoma was awarded $10,000. While neither of those organizations is participating in 2021, RIVERSPORT Foundation, a recipient of $5,000 in 2020, is taking part along with five additional nonprofits.
The Organizations and their projects
Alpha Community Foundation is the nonprofit arm of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, which has been in the Oklahoma City community since 1938 providing young people with support and mentorship, said Chairman George Williams. While the organization works through civic engagement, wellness, service, and educational outreach, Williams says educational outreach through mentoring programs, such as the Alpha Boys Institute, are the flagship initiatives.
The foundation recently purchased a former elementary school and plans to convert it into a community center.
“This will allow us to grow those programs that we currently have, it will allow us to partner with other community organizations that are doing great work in the community that don’t currently have space,” he said.
Any funds raised will go directly to the school’s renovations and maintenance. The center will become a hub within the city to meet the needs of a historically underserved community, Williams said.
“The goal is to turn this vacant property into a shining light on the east side,” he said.
Generation Citizen works to transform civics education for youth to be prepared to foster and participate in democracy that is more equitable, inclusive and responsive.
Funds raised will go toward aiding teachers and students in improving and revising civics curriculum, partnering with community schools and teachers to provide professional development promoting students’ community engagement and involvement.
“We help families meet the most basic needs for their most vulnerable members,” said Trisha Bunce, development manager of Infant Crisis Services.
The organization exists to make sure no baby in Oklahoma goes hungry, she said. To do their part in preventing that, they operate a food, formula and diaper pantry to assist families of infants and toddlers in crisis. She said many people don’t know that those receiving government assistance, such as food stamps or SNAP benefits, cannot use this money on diapers. Bunce said parents can redirect resources when they aren’t worried about diapers and baby food or formula.
“Whether that’s gas for the car, whether that’s food for older children, meeting those basic needs kind of frees up resources for higher level needs for the family,” she said.
Infant Crisis Services hopes to expand the work of it’s BabyMobile, which currently provides formula, food, and diapers to infants and toddlers across 19 Oklahoma counties. Money raised through ‘A Community Thrives’ will be used to continue expanding the groups partnerships with concerned local tiribes, city and county leaders who have invited Infant Crisis services into their communities, Bunce said.
“Children under 5 are the most likely segment of the population to live in poverty in the state of Oklahoma,” she said. “We’re just there to make sure that they have an opportunity to move forward and to be part of the future.”
Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s mission is to encourage and empower Oklahomans to “preserve and enhance the state’s natural beauty and ensure a healthy, sustainable environment.”
The group is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and is responsible for Oklahoma’s annual Great American Cleanup event , as well as, multiple programs to educate citizens on environmental stewardship.
The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools works directly with Oklahoma City Public Schools and exists to aid the state’s largest district in providing for the needs of its students, teachers and staff, said Abbie Vaughan, director of community outreach.
“We are really working to empower our next generation here in Oklahoma City and in the community,” she said. “These are our kids who are going to be growing up and becoming citizens and community leaders here in Oklahoma City.”
The foundation plans to use any funds raised for its ReadOKC On the Go! mobile book bus which provides access to free reading materials for all students in the Oklahoma City Public Schools community.
“We’re leveraging something that is truly unique and a differentiator in our community,” said Michael Knopp, executive director of the RIVERSPORT Foundation. “Kids in Oklahoma City have an opportunity that really there’s no example like it in America.”
The foundation aims to use exposure to new experiences and different sports that kids can’t get elsewhere to change the way they view sports, fitness and life, Knopp said. Through their participation at the foundation, kids can learn how one experience might lead them to something much bigger, he said.
“We bring all these things together from the entry point of kids getting involved all the way up to elite athletes pursuing their Olympic dreams, with athletes who’ve trained in Oklahoma City in Tokyo right now,” Knopp said.
RIVERSPORT Foundation plans to utilize funds to benefit it’s OKC Thrive Outside program. The program brings together schools, nonprofit organizations, and youth development agencies to provide underserved students with access to outdoor activities at RIVERSPORT and throughout Oklahoma at no cost to their families.
“This river has now created an opportunity that has resulted in over $13 million in college scholarships to kids that have become exposed to these new opportunities,” he said. “We want to take that and go to the next level.”
How to donate
Donations must be made through each organization’s Mighty Cause platform, similar to a GoFundMe page. Links to the individual pages can be found by clicking on the nonprofit name listed above. The deadline for all donations is Aug. 13.