Last year, the Greater White Bear Lake Community Foundation awarded more than $32,000 to 20 local organizations for programs and initiatives contributing to and enhancing quality of life for those who live and work in the White Bear Lake area.
The 2017 grant recipients represent a wide variety of efforts: serving and assessing the needs of a growing senior population, addressing environmental concerns, expanding educational opportunities for students, and supporting at-risk populations. Here are just a few examples of the work local organizations are doing and what the Foundation’s Community Partners Fund is proud to support:
• Dementia often isolates individuals and their caregivers, which is why the Consortium of Lake Area Senior Services (CLASS) is committed to creating a community where those who are living with dementia feel affirmed and supported. With the $2,500 CLASS received, the organization joins a growing number of Minnesota, national, and international municipalities taking action to become a Dementia Friendly Community.
The Dementia Friendly Community initiative seeks to raise awareness about dementia, support the caregivers of those living with dementia, and promote meaningful community participation. Since receiving the grant from the Community Partners Fund, CLASS has engaged 280 residents. CLASS hosted six community conversations, facilitated Dementia Friends classes, and trained 15 local volunteers to be Dementia Friends Champions (a person who encourages others to make a positive difference to people living with dementia in their community).
Tara Jebens-Singh, CLASS president, said, “Our goal is to localize the global dementia-friendly initiative in the White Bear Lake area. The community conversations and Dementia Friend trainings are the first steps toward making [our] community dementia friendly. The Foundation’s financial support has been essential for our success.”
• H20 for Life is a local nonprofit with a global reach dedicated to service-learning opportunities for schools across the country. “We wanted every school [in the White Bear Lake Area] to have a SPLASH! Toolkit,” said Christy Andacht, executive director of H2O, “and the Greater White Bear Lake Community Foundation made it happen.”
The Community Partners Fund provided $1,300 to H2O for Life to develop and implement the toolkits for every school in the White Bear Lake area. “The toolkit is a 12-week program that provides teachers and after-school programs with activities and ideas for ways to inspire local kids to be water conservation heroes,” Andacht said. “The kids get their hands dirty locally, all the while gaining an awareness of the local and global water concerns and crisis. Our hope is that the toolkits inspire area students to be local and global leaders.”
• Gavin Nachtigall, Level Up Academy’s STEM teacher, describes the first time his students interacted with their Jordanian peers by video. “I could feel it in the room; it’s like they realized for the first time that people on the internet are not just profiles. They were surprised that kids in Jordan played video games too,” Nachtigall laughed, “and don’t always like school either.”
Level Up Academy received a grant of $1,650 to participate in the STEM Global Enrichment program. The program provides opportunities for local students to gain a global awareness and interact with students across the globe by working collaboratively on an engineering project. The grant from the Community Foundation enabled Nachtigall’s students to work together with Jordanian students to engineer 3-D solar light boxes.
The Community Partners Fund is made possible by the generosity of individuals, families, and businesses in the greater White Bear Lake area — the five communities that share the shores of White Bear Lake. While the Foundation was able to grant $32,000 to 20 groups in 2017, this did not begin to meet the need, as grant requests exceeded the funds available by more than $100,000. “We hope to do as much or more this year to help meet the increased needs in our community,” stated Jackie Reis, Foundation executive director. “It’s remarkable how much can get done if many contribute.”