Community service

Monroe County Council Awards $151,000 Through Sophia Travis Community Service Grants

Monroe County Council awarded $151,220 in grants to local nonprofits Aug. 23 in honor of late county councilor Sophia Travis, who served as a county councilor from 2004 to 2008. The council gives Sophia Travis Community Service Grants each year, with the amount awarded this year an 11.5% increase over last year.

In 2008, Monroe County established this fund to support various community projects. Non-profit organizations complete an application in which they explain their project proposal and specify the grant they wish to receive.

County Council Member Cheryl Munson and her five-person committee, which includes three county council members and two community members, developed recommendations at their Aug. 23 meeting on which nonprofits should become grant recipients.

“We have so many needs here in Monroe,” Munson said. “We have various non-profit organizations trying to meet the needs of our community. I consider our nonprofits as our partners in meeting these needs. »

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All grant funding comes from Monroe County taxpayers. With the county’s 5% budget increase this year, Munson said there are more grants than ever.

“We have a great need for the community,” Munson said. “We decided we really needed to step up and add more dollars to the fund.”

Munson, a personal friend of Travis, served on the grants committee for two years before becoming a board member. After Travis’ death, Munson remained a member of the committee – which was renamed to honor Travis’ legacy.

“I had served on this committee before I was on the board for two years, and I realized how important it was for our nonprofits and I wanted it to be better,” Munson said. . “I was a personal friend of Sophia Travis and she was a huge supporter of this program.”

County Council Member Jennifer Crossley is a member of the five-person grant selection committee and said the committee cannot accommodate all applicants’ requests or they will go over budget by $10,000.

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“After the deadline for the proposals, the committee met to review the nominees,” Crossley said. “What people wanted versus what we had was over budget. However, we were able to sit down and narrow down what people were asking for and come up with a healthy budget to meet everyone’s needs.

Receiving the second-highest grant this year at $9,400, Boys and Girls Clubs of Bloomington will use the grant to help secure a new minibus for the Crestmont neighborhood, said Resource Development Manager Leslie Abshier.

“We have a location in the Crestmont neighborhood where transportation is much more difficult and a problem for families,” Abshier said. “We take our children on many field trips and at the end of the day we often have to drop the children home. Currently, our minibus is almost 30 years old, and the grant will provide what is left to fund a new minibus.

Abshier said the grant selection committee gave them money because they came up with a tangible way to benefit the community, which the committee is looking for.

“One of our goals is to make sure we serve every child and every family in need,” Abshier said. “Accessibility is a big issue for us, which is why the Sophia Travis scholarship is so important. We try to break down all barriers for people to use our service.”