The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation is pleased to announce that 10 organizations have recently been awarded grants through the Foundation’s Community Partners program for the third quarter of 2015. 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, leveraging resources and knowledge to positively impact individuals and communities and transform society’s vision of and approach to its most vulnerable members.
Special Gifts Theatre (Northbrook, IL)
Musical Theatre Program
The Special Gifts Theatre (SGT) offers a theatre arts experience for youth age 14-22 with developmental and physical disabilities, enabling personal growth while breaking down stereotypes related to disabilities within the community. SGT began a significant expansion of the Musical Theatre Program during the 2014-15 fiscal year at two new program sites: the Walter R. Sundling School in Palatine and Ebinger Elementary School in Chicago. The grant awarded by The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will be used to support further program expansion in 2015-2016, allowing SGT to significantly increase the number of students and peer mentors the organization serves, shift participants to new program sites to reduce the size of MTP casts, and allow participants — some of whom travel many hours— to attend classes closer to home.
Cardinal Cushing Centers (Hanover, MA)
Student Self-Directed Mentoring Approach Program
In 2015, Cardinal Cushing Centers will pilot an evidence-based self-advocacy program to youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities that are entering adult living. The program is designed to empower students to acquire skills that will enable them to have more satisfying, inclusive lives. This model will initially include 4-6 students and 2-3 “Transition Mentors.” Over a 10 month period, Transition Mentors will teach students self-determination skills and coordinate with the students’ present vocational settings to ensure they are aligned with the students’ experiences, interests, skills and goals. A grant from TMNCF will support the implementation of this program.
Goodwill of KYOWVA Area, Inc. (Huntington, WV)
Innovative Employability Program
Goodwill of KYOWVA Area, Inc., is a nonprofit human services agency and network of not-for-profit businesses serving five West Virginia counties and four Kentucky counties, whose mission is to empower people to overcome employment barriers and to help strengthen individuals, families and communities- specifically those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Goodwill’s Innovative Employability Program embodies strategies to positively affect the employment rate of individuals with disabilities, and links individuals to innovative avenues of holistic job training, internships and placement. Funding from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will support a 30-member cohort of the program in 2015-2016.
ShowMe Aquatics & Fitness (St. Charles, MO)
Aqua Ability Program
ShowMe Aquatics & Fitness provides aquatic physical and occupational therapy activities that build self-confidence, improve physical strength and overall quality of life for 23 young adults ranging in age from 15 to 21 years old living with a developmental or acquired disability in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The Aqua Ability Program offers the community model of therapy, which combines exercise and rehabilitation with psycho/social re-integration, all of which are vital to the body and mind of a person with a disability. Funding from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will be used to support staffing costs associated with this program.
Stonehill College (Easton, MA)
Camp Shriver uses sports to promote the healthy eating habits and social wellness of children with and without disabilities, ages 8-12. In 2014, Camp Shriver at UMass Boston and Stonehill College served a total of 160 children from disadvantaged neighborhoods in Boston and Brockton. A grant from TMNCF 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.
Vista Del Mar Children & Family Services (Los Angeles, CA)
Arts Enrichment Program
Vista Del Mar’s Miracle Theater Program offers musical theatre classes for children and young adults age 6-22 with autism and other special needs, providing them with an opportunity to enhance their personal growth and help develop self-esteem and interaction with others. The grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will support staffing costs, specifically for music & art therapists, a musical director, and drama specialists experienced in working with children with autism.
Friendship Ventures DBA (Annandale, MN)
True Friends Camp and Enrichment Programs
True Friends serves a combined population of individuals with developmental disabilities, learning impairments, Down syndrome and autism, and those with physical disabilities, spinal cord and brain injuries. True Friends has the ability to serve children, teens and adults with any type of physical, cognitive, developmental or learning disability and a wide variety of related health impairments and limitations at 5 camp program centers in Minnesota. Programs include traditional summer resident camp, day camp, winter camp and respite care camps on weekends year-round, providing a vital break to their families. Programs offer a vacation from routine, a chance to learn about nature, explore the outdoors, participate in recreational activities, experience new challenges and spend time with peers. With staff support and adapted activities, participants benefit from program activities; they gain independence, self-confidence and pride in accomplishments. A grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will help fund programs and help provide fee assistance for families in need in 2015.
Placer ARC (Roseville, CA)
On The Go! and On The Go! Youth Programs
The On The Go! and On The Go! Youth programs at Placer Arc offer meaningful social activities for up to 50 young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities each month. Each event is designed to provide inclusive opportunities for these young people to interact with their peers while learning and practicing social skills. The grant awarded by The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will help cover staffing and transportation costs for these activities.
Nativity Preparatory School (Jamaica Plain, MA)
Start-to-Finish Graduate Support Program
Nativity Preparatory School provides low-income middle school boys from Boston’s inner-city neighborhoods with an affordable and accessible educational alternative to traditional public school. A grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation will allow the school to continue offering college transition and financial aid workshops to graduating high school seniors, in addition to supporting the continued growth of the “Start-to-Finish Graduate Support Program,” a mentoring program that enables alumni to forge relationships with professionals in fields of interest to them. This can lead, in turn, to summer employment and other kinds of professional development that helps undergraduate college persistence and completion.
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.