The MENTOR Network

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The MENTOR Network Announces Community Partner Grant Recipients

The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation is pleased to announce that sixteen organizations were awarded grants through the Foundation’s Community Partners program for the final three quarters of 2016. Community Partners are change agents within human services that are either delivering innovative care or developing new ideas and models for doing so. They are results oriented, leverage resources and knowledge to positively impact individuals and communities, and have the power to transform society’s vision of and approach to its most vulnerable members.

The Arc of Greater Twin Cities (St. Paul, MN)

People Planning Together

The Arc of Greater Twin Cities promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, actively supporting them and their families in a lifetime of full inclusion and participation in their communities. Funds from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will be used to partner with Support Development Associates (SDA), a specialized consultation and training organization designed to promote the abilities and talents of every individual and every agency, to offer its highly effective People Planning Together (PPT) training. Through this program, at least 15 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be certified as PPT trainers through SDA. Next, each Arc-affiliated certified trainer will lead People Planning Together classes for other individuals with disabilities. PPT is about empowering people with disabilities to take a leadership role in planning a life they desire. All classes are led by a certified trainer with an intellectual or development disability, with the support of a disability professional, and include guidance in developing a person-centered plan. The “training the trainers” model being used in this program is an impactful, cost-effective way to train self-advocates in person-centered planning.

The Arc of New Jersey (North Brunswick, NJ)

Family Institute

The Arc of New Jersey is the state’s largest organization advocating for and serving citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. The Arc’s Family Institute helps family members gain the tools necessary to become effective advocates as well as support families as they try and navigate the service delivery systems. The Institute provides direct individual advocacy for families who have encountered obstacles to accessing needed services and teaches families how to advocate on their loved ones behalf so that they may be more successful in accessing services in the future. The Arc of New Jersey Family Institute receives an average of 250 calls and emails a month from families who need help to access services. Funding from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will be used to provide family education activities including workshops, trainings, webinars and podcasts.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston (Boston, MA)

Inclusion Initiative

The Inclusion Initiative is a program through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston at the Charlestown Club that is designed to increase impact and provide an inclusive Club experience that supports all members, regardless of ability. This includes not only providing accommodations, but fostering an inclusive culture and program design where members with and without disabilities can make friends, have fun, be safe, develop an understanding of difference, and engage together in enriching opportunities. The Charlestown Club’s inclusion work is led by a dedicated, full-time Inclusion Facilitator and a Licensed Social Worker. The Inclusion Facilitator meets with members and parents to develop individual goals and plans to help them gain access to programs that will help them achieve their goals. All Club staff work to develop solutions and/or accommodations for each program area and provide direct support. Funding from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will support staffing costs for the Inclusion Initiative and provide targeted programs that bring members of all abilities together.

Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester (Dorchester, MA)

Project B.I.N.D.

Project B.I.N.D. (Boston Inclusion Network for Disabilities) is an initiative at the Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester, Massachusetts designed to encourage the educational and social enrichment and advancement of children with special needs. Together with a network of partners, the Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester provides access to exceptional after-school programs and activities while nurturing the full inclusion of children of all abilities. The grant awarded by The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will help support services to 110 youth throughout the year.

Blue Tent (Greenville, SC)

Kindling Adventure in Childhood

Blue Tent  offers year-round enrichment programs to help children affected by abuse & neglect in foster care in upstate South Carolina recognize their self-worth, feel total acceptance from others and gain life skills to make them successful. Their flagship program, Camp Opportunity Week at Camp Tekoa in Hendersonville, NC, hosts 110 campers each year. Campers trade office visits for outdoor adventures, court dates for camp fires, and fears for fun. Other programming includes birthday parties, computer programming classes, dramatic play, biking and rafting trips and more. Funds from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will be used to support Blue Tent’s 2016 educational, cultural, and recreational adventures for children.

Churches United in Ministry (Duluth, MN)

CHUM Church: Meeting Changing Spiritual Needs

Churches United in Ministry (CHUM)  is Duluth’s primary safety-net organization where people who are homeless or who have very low incomes can come for assistance and a welcoming, safe community. At CHUM’s Drop-In Center (day shelter) people can pick up mail, do their laundry, have a hot meal, socialize over games or conversations, and find a warm and welcoming community where they can be safe, heard, and respected. CHUM Church was started to provide spiritual growth and to nurture people with developmental disabilities, offering a home church and community that members could identify as their own. The program offers a unique, spirited and informal worship service designed to capture the attention and interest of individuals, their families and caregivers. Familiar and predictable rituals create an environment in which everyone feels comfortable and included. Funding from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will cover the costs of both program and staff expenses to reach more individuals through CHUM Church.

Community Rowing (Brighton, MA)

Adaptive Rowing Program

Community Rowing is a public rowing club on the Charles River in Massachusetts. CRI offers coaching in safe, challenging and supportive rowing programs for individuals with special needs, including spinal cord injuries. Their Adaptive Rowing Program will serve approximately 300 individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities over the course of the year; of these, 200 are youth ages 12 and older and 100 are adults and military veterans. On-water rowing will be offered 3 days per week during the spring, summer and fall. A grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will enable CRI to increase their number of weekly adaptive rowing sessions, indoor training opportunities with physical therapists, and to continue their one-to-one “buddy rowing” system; pairing adaptive athletes with volunteers so they may row on their own schedule.

Disability Action Center (Fairmont, WV)

GO! (Get Outdoors)

The Disability Action Center (DAC) has long provided a home for individuals with disabilities where they can live, work, learn and play. The Go! Program is an extension of these services and will provide increased recreational and outdoor activities to participants while also broadening community awareness towards inclusion and accessibility for all. Funding from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will be used to hire a Recreation Specialist, purchase additional adaptive sporting equipment and general mobility devices, and support the completion and marketing of an accessible recreation guide to be used by GO! Participants.

Encore Studio for the Performing Arts (Madison, WI)

2016-2017 Performing Arts Season

Encore Studio for the Performing Arts is the only professional theater company for people with disabilities in Wisconsin and one of the very few in the United States. Encore offers an innovative, inclusive, and professional environment where all people work together in the pursuit of artistic and theatrical excellence. Since its founding 15 years ago, this groundbreaking theater company has produced over 50 original works to much local, regional, and even national acclaim. It is Encore’s objective not only to provide employment opportunities in the performing arts for people with disabilities but also to use this medium to convey an authentic message about disability and culture. A grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will go toward operational program costs for the upcoming season.

Families Helping Families (Cedar Rapids, IA)

The Spread Your Wings Program

The Spread Your Wings Program was implemented by Families Helping Families (FHF) to provide scholarship funding for children in family foster care to gain self-confidence by supporting their participation in extracurricular activities such as sports, art, music lessons, dance, gymnastics classes, martial arts, Special Olympics, and summer camps. Many foster care families encounter financial challenges—often the “extras” have to be bypassed to make way for necessities. Because of this, FHF created the Spread Your Wings Program to allow these deserving children the opportunity to participate in positive activities. A grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will support additional scholarships for these youth.

Free Arts for Abused Children (Los Angeles, CA)

Free Arts for Children’s Court

Free Arts programs inspire hope in the lives of children who have experienced abuse, neglect, poverty and homelessness through innovative creative arts programs and positive interactions with caring adult volunteers. Free Arts for Children’s Court is the non-profit’s program that is designed to infuse the healing, therapeutic power of the creative self-expression into the lives of abused children ages 4-18. The program provides open-ended therapeutic art projects to children and their siblings waiting to attend their dependency hearings at the Edmund D. Edelman’s Children’s Court in Monterey Park.  Free Arts volunteers engage them in quick, fun creative activities to relieve stress and help them reach a calmer state of mind. Children report that drawing or crafting helped them feel less frightened, worried, or sad. The impact of the program is also evident through the testimonies of court judges and attorneys who believe the program enhances the ability of children to open up about their experiences, give judges the information they need to make the best possible decision. Funding will allow for 250 more children to benefit from these art projects.

National Association of Women Judges (Washington, DC)

The Storybook Project

National Association of Women Judges’ mission is to promote the judicial role of protecting the rights of individuals under the rule of law through strong, committed, diverse judicial leadership; fairness and equality in the courts; and equal access to justice. Approximately 75% of incarcerated women are mothers and 2/3 of them have children under the age of 18. The Storybook Project helps incarcerated women and children maintain their bond during prolonged separation. The Project encourages incarcerated mothers and caregivers to record children’s books and CD recordings that are given to the children to listen to over and over again. “I miss you” and “I love you” included in the recordings prove to be the next best thing to being in the room together, reading aloud. The program also includes a Parenting Class pre-requisite which has a literacy component to assist women with reading skills before recording the book(s) for their children. Funds from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will be used to purchase parenting class curriculum, children’s books, CD players, blank CDs, and for postage to mail the packages to children.

Partners for Youth with Disabilities (Boston, MA)

Mentor Match

Partners for Youth with Disabilities provides Boston youth the opportunity to develop a meaningful mentoring relationship with an adult. Mentors in the program, many of whom share similar disabilities with the youth, serve as invaluable role models who have already successfully navigated the challenges of becoming independent. At a minimum, participants commit to one year, meeting in person at least once a month and communicating by phone or email once a week. As a result of their participation, youth participants are expected to advance in one or more of the following five desired impact areas: independent living, motivation and self-esteem, community involvement, healthy relationships, and vocational development. Funds from The Foundation will be used to support the Mentor Match Program’s 2016-2017 goal of creating 50 new matches while supporting existing matches.

Roca, Inc. (Chelsea, MA)

Roca’s Intervention Model

Roca is an outcomes-driven organization dedicated to transforming the lives of the most high-risk young people ages 17-24 (street, court, and gang-involved; drop-outs; young parents; refugees; and, immigrants). Roca’s Intervention Model is a cognitive-restructuring and skills development intervention that was developed and implemented to address this high-risk, underserved population. Using the Intervention Model, Roca helps young people move out of violence and poverty over two years with two additional years of supportive follow-up. The project starts with intensive outreach to reengage young people and build relationships that support change, offers programming that meets young people where they are, operates basic and advanced transitional employment, and works with the city of Springfield, several criminal justice partners, and other organizations. A grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will enable Roca to provide intervention services to 225 very high-risk young men from Springfield, Holyoke & Chicopee, MA this year.

Stonehill College (Easton, MA)

Camp Shriver

Camp Shriver uses sports to promote the healthy eating habits and social wellness of children with and without disabilities, ages 8-12. In 2015, Camp Shriver at UMass Boston and Stonehill College served a total of 160 children from disadvantaged neighborhoods in Boston and Brockton. A grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will directly support Camp Shriver’s ability to provide inclusive sport and fitness programming to the increasing number of campers served. Specifically, the Foundation’s grant will support 10 campers for one week of camp: approximately 6 campers at UMass Boston and approximately 4 campers at Stonehill College, proportionate to camper enrollment at each site. Funds will support all aspects of Camp Shriver programming, including the free and nutritious meals, transportation, camp gear and the counselor and coaches who work with campers every day.

Windrush Farm (North Andover, MA)

Equine Assisted Activities for Individuals with Disabilities

Windrush Farm is committed to helping children and adults with a broad range of disabilities excel through equine assisted activities. Through a dedicated staff, a devoted team of volunteers, a diverse curriculum and carefully selected and trained horses, Windrush programs are designed to encourage, challenge and motivate participants. These programs focus on improving flexibility, balance, strength, coordination, self-confidence and autonomy. Weekly therapeutic riding lessons are offered to individuals, and hippotherapy is offered for children who are too young or whose disabilities do not allow them to participate. Summer programs for at-risk youth and children with special needs are also offered. Children learn to ride and care for horses, help tend the vegetable garden, tend chickens, clean stalls, feed horses, and participate in reading/writing programs with volunteers. In addition to these groups, Windrush serves veterans (both as riders and volunteers) and participants of the Best Buddies program. A grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will be used to help cover program expenses, particularly the costs incurred to maintain 25 horses.

About the Community Partners Program
For more information, visit the Community Partners section of our Charitable Foundation website.