Clubs helping kids realize their potential received microgrants this spring.
By Erin Chandler
The Kiwanis Children’s Fund continues to amplify Kiwanians’ ability to change lives in their communities by distributing microgrants to Kiwanis clubs with 35 or fewer members. Kiwanis Children’s Fund grants improve the lives of children around the world by identifying the projects that create a continuum of impact in a child’s life — an impact that spans their entire childhood and sets them up for a bright future. By funding projects that target the Kiwanis causes of education and literacy, health and nutrition, and youth leadership development, whether through a Kiwanis club’s local service project or through a club’s partner, the Children’s Fund ensures that its grantmaking has the greatest possible impact.
In the months of February, March and April, clubs around the world received microgrant funding to provide sensory play items for kids with autism and ADHD, give first aid classes, screen children’s hearing, pay for surgeries and medical equipment, distribute books and school supplies, and much more. Four microgrants funded the following projects focused on youth leadership development — giving kids the help and support they need to achieve their full potential.
Fostering leadership through literacy
Utica, New York, U.S., has one of the largest resettled refugee populations per capita in the United States. Many students are struggling with their language and reading skills in school and with low family incomes at home. Children in these circumstances can struggle to see themselves as future leaders — so the Kiwanis Club of Utica started a program to help turn things around.
The club is partnering with Scholastic to give two books to each fourth grade student at Christopher Columbus Elementary School. The project is also designed to raise families’ awareness of the local public library and to construct a Little Free Library near the school.
A Children’s Fund microgrant will help each fourth grade teacher select one Scholastic book containing themes of leadership and community for classroom reading and discussion. While improving their literacy skills and confidence, these students will see models of leadership and talk about what those ideas mean to them. The club hopes to continue the project with each fourth grade class in the future.
Struggling students become mentors
A Children’s Fund microgrant will help the Kiwanis Club of Daphne-Spanish Fort, Alabama, U.S., expand its Compass II Life program to three more schools in its area. That means at-risk students at a total of eight schools will take part in a 10-week program that teaches self-respect, leadership and accountability. The program is led by Kiwanian Deon Gatson, a licensed family therapist.
School counselors recommend students who are struggling with academics and classroom behavior to take part in the program, hoping to prevent these problems from leading to life-altering consequences. Compass II Life teaches leadership skills in the long-term — and graduates often return to mentor younger kids who are new to the program. The club’s ultimate goal is to make Compass II Life available in every school in the county.
Independent, not alone
A Children’s Fund microgrant will help the Kiwanis Club of Normandy 24-1 in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., purchase 20-25 baskets of household supplies for those transitioning out of the Core Collective at St. Vincent, a home for youth in crisis. With essentials such as kitchen utensils, towels and laundry detergent, these young adults will set up their own homes — and get time to focus on the bigger picture of living independently and becoming fully-fledged members of their community.
The club will also donate essential hygiene supplies — including underwear, toiletries and natural hair products — and prepare lunch four times a year at the Epworth Drop-In Center for unhoused kids and teens. Being able to maintain personal hygiene will help these young people build their dignity and self-esteem so they can continue developing into leaders.
Creative power lights up the town
The Kiwanis Club of Petrolia and Area, Ontario, Canada, helps kids become leaders by fostering their independence and creativity. This year, a Children’s Fund microgrant will help the club throw its annual Fiery Faces Halloween Festival. According to the club’s grant application, the festival “allows families to engage in healthy, safe, accessible and non-scary activities to commemorate the season.”
The community’s children will elect their own pumpkins and create their own designs to turn them into Jack-o’-lanterns. Kiwanis volunteers will help them learn how pumpkins grow, how to carve them and how to handle their carving tools safely. The carved pumpkins will be displayed at the Fiery Faces Pumpkin Lighting, where kids will present the fruits of their labor and creativity to the community.
How you can help
Learn more about the Microgrant Program. Amplify your impact by supporting the Kiwanis causes through a gift to the Children’s Fund and learn how your own club can apply for a grant to help kids in your community.