The Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation (EWVCF) recently awarded 53 Youth and Education grants, totaling $163,525.43, to 38 organizations tackling the issues faced by families and young ones in Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan County.
The majority of the funding went to organizations addressing the most basic needs in the Eastern Panhandle. $73,800 will allow organizations such as Community Networks, Graciously Giving Foundation, Faith Community Coalition for the Homeless, Renewed Life Ministry, the Children’s Vision Rehabilitation Program, and Morgan County Starting Points to continue to provide food, shelter, medical care, clothes, childcare, and more to the most vulnerable among us. The Martinsburg Initiative will use their five grants to continue their outreach to local schools in an effort to prevent substance abuse disorders and build strong families in our area. Community Combined Ministries received two grants to support the Kidz Power Pacs program, a vital community effort to end childhood hunger in the Eastern Panhandle.
Educational programs in our area received $40,626.43. Nearly $17,000 will be used to improve the literacy of Eastern Panhandle young ones. Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Libraries received a grant for their 2023 Summer Reading Program “All Together Now.” Youth Services Manager Emily Jones reported that Berkeley County school teachers greatly appreciate the library’s reading programs which have been proven to help students maintain reading proficiency through the summer months. Martinsburg Sunrise Rotary Foundation will distribute ten books of each child’s choosing to every second grade student in Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan County through their Eastern Panhandle Reading program. Multiple school officials voiced their support and enthusiasm for this program which distributes tens of thousands of new books every year. Likewise, EL teacher Jill Leathers of Opequon Elementary School will use her grant to continue to build a bilingual library in her classroom, where students will be allowed to check out bags of these books to encourage at-home reading. Spring Mills Middle School teacher Stephanie Gardner will use her grant to expand and diversify the history books in her 8th grade West Virginia Studies classroom library.
Nearly $12,000 will fund STEM-related programs. Harpers Ferry Middle School’s Jill Fornadley, recipient of several previous EWVCF grants and ever the champion of learning via virtual reality, will use this grant to purchase cameras that will allow her students to film and create their own virtual Social Studies content about local West Virginia history which could be shared in schools throughout the state. Kristina Allis, Technology Integration Specialist at Orchard View Intermediate School, will use her grant to purchase Snap Circuits, electrical kits that allow children ages 8 and above to learn about electricity by creating functional circuit boards. At Wind Dance Farm & Earth Education Center in Morgan County, Director and Environmental Educator Leslie-Devine Milbourne received a grant for technological upgrades and supplies, which will allow the organization to continue their vital work of educating local youth about nature and the environment through their Student Citizen Scientist programs.
EWVCF also funded an exciting new educational program from the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission. The Commission is dedicated to providing heritage education to all ages, and this grant will allow them to deliver direct presentations to all Jefferson County 4th grade classrooms. Dr. Deborah Rochefort will travel to all nine elementary schools, presenting herself as a woman from 1775 and teaching students about 18th century textiles. Commission Chair Martin Burke anticipates that this program will generate “more appreciation and interest in life in the 18th century” among Jefferson County students as they are taught American Colonial History.
Organizations and programs dedicated to fostering a love of the arts in Eastern Panhandle youth received $20,434. The Apollo Civic Theatre, BlackCat Music Cooperative, Contemporary American Theatre Festival, and Morgan Arts Council all received grants which will allow them to continue their vital work educating Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan County young ones on the importance of creativity and self-expression through art. Meghan O’Neill of Shepherdstown Middle School and Jordan English of Spring Mills Middle School will use their grants to further musical education. Kim Patton, School Counselor at Opequon Elementary School, will use her grant to ensure that every student will receive a box of multicultural crayons and construction paper for school projects.
Recreational programs and programs tackling the social and emotional needs of our youth received nearly $30,000. Neil Troppman, Head Coach of the Boy’s Club Lacrosse at Martinsburg High School, received a grant to purchase new helmets for every member of the team. Burke Street Elementary School families will enjoy the opportunity to have portraits taken by a professional photographer at the school thanks to a grant received by School Counselor Teresa Weller. Teri Wilson of Berkeley Heights Elementary School received a grant to purchase Playground Activity Panels, which will allow students to enjoy independent, unstructured outdoor playtime.
Another vital Eastern Panhandle organization, Potomac Valley Audubon Society, received four grants. Two of those grants will support their “Nature in the Neighborhood” programs, allowing PVAS to bring summer camp experiences to disadvantaged youth in Berkeley and Jefferson county. The other two grants will allow PVAS to continue to bring hands-on environmental education programs directly to schools in our area. Executive Director Kristin Alexander shared the following story with EWVCF about the organization’s Lead Educator Amy Moore Thomas’s recent successful trip to a classroom at Marlowe Elementary School. “Amy had the BEST time presenting her ‘Bugs a Billion’ program to 1st graders,” Alexander wrote. “They got to hold wiggly mealworms and one little girl told Amy that she’d been scared of bugs before the program, but now she was HOLDING one and she wasn’t scared anymore.” When Amy lead students outside to see even more insects, the kids began jumping up and down with excitement. “Amy came back and shared that those kinds of programs are why she loves her job. They re-energize her every time. Thank you for making these programs possible for ALL students,” said Alexander.
The Community Foundation’s Youth and Education grants are made possible thanks to the generosity of EWVCF’s donors. Funding came from the Jane P. Snyder Youth Fund, C. Scott and Elizabeth C. Shade Youth Fund, Bonn Poland Family Roundhouse Recreation Fund, Frada Fine Berkeley County Education Fund, and the Tom and Virginia Seely Morgan County Children’s Fund. Additionally, the Fund advisors for the Bill and Nancy White Charitable Fund, Fleming Family Fund, W. Randy Smith Family Fund, and the Michael and Brenda Mullin Charitable Fund stepped in and allowed the Foundation to award nearly $66,000 more than initially expected.
The Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation (EWVCF) was established in 1995 to help donors create permanent endowments to provide grants and scholarships throughout the region. Since its inception, EWVCF has awarded nearly $14.7 million, including $1 million in 2022 alone. The Community Foundation now holds more than 260 endowed funds with assets of $34 million and it is the leading steward of philanthropic giving in the region. EWVCF works with a wide range of nonprofit organizations providing funding for projects from human welfare and scholarships to affordable housing and natural resources conservation; youth and education to animal welfare and historic preservation, and much more. For information visit www.EWVCF.org, or contact EWVCF Executive Director Michael Whalton at firstname.lastname@example.org , 304-264-0353.