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Last updated: Wed. Aug. 06, 2014 - 07:26 am EDT

Foellinger grants will help 47 local agencies with special project needs

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•Foellinger Foundation: www.foellinger.org

•Vincent Village: http://vincentvillage.org

Grants given

These are some of the largest of 47 Special Opportunity Grants announced Tuesday by the Foellinger Foundation:

•Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne, $50,000 for a van, paging system and computer network upgrade

•Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, $42,135 for lighting equipment, design software and stage production equipment

•Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $45,690 for program delivery vehicle and computer equipment

•Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana, $50,000 for computer equipment, software and training

•Little River Wetlands Project, $48,580 for roofing, concrete barn floors, a tractor with front-end loader and a Gator utility vehicle

•Northeast Indiana Public Radio, $43,625 for AudioVault broadcast control system

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A grant of $13,000 doesn't sound that big compared to donations some local nonprofits have received over the years. But it can make a lifetime of difference for children and their parents staying at Vincent Village, 2827 Holton Ave.

"This will take it to the next level, as far as really being a learning center," Denise Andorfer, executive director of Vincent Village, said of the grant announced Tuesday by the Foellinger Foundation.

Vincent Village, which helps homeless families get back to living in housing of their own, will use most of the money to buy computer equipment — including new touch-screen computers — and other items for its Family Learning Center. The center is the focal point of its efforts to encourage client parents to teach basics to their preschool children.

Foellinger Foundation President Cheryl Taylor announced her organization had approved Special Grant Opportunity donations totaling $1,122,815 to 47 Allen County nonprofits ranging from ACRES Land Trust and the AIDS Task Force to the Volunteer Lawyer Program and the Women's Bureau. Through the grants, the foundation wants to encourage organizations to become more effective, Taylor said.

Projects highlighted at the announcement included 11 new hand-held radios for the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo to improve communications among zoo staff, a contribution toward audience-requested new seats at Fort Wayne Cinema Center and website upgrades for NeighborLink Fort Wayne that will allow the community-service organizer to better serve volunteers seeking to help with projects.

The Foellinger Foundation was created in 1958 by The News-Sentinel's late publisher Helene R. Foellinger and her mother, Esther.

At Vincent Village, part of the Foellinger grant also will be used to install additional security cameras around Vincent House, where homeless families live when they first come for help, Andorfer said.

Vincent House provides initial shelter to about 40 families and 100 children a year, Andorfer said. Families gradually transition into adjacent homes the organization owns to prepare to move out on their own.

While in the program, adults receive training in parenting, help finding a job and other support services, she said. Each family with preschool children will spend one hour per week in the Family Learning Center as part of Vincent Village's participation in the national Parents as Teachers program.

The Parents as Teachers program helps parents learn what is age-appropriate for their young children and how to prepare their children for kindergarten by teaching them basic skills, such as reading and writing.

During the school year, Andorfer said older children also will go to the learning center in the afternoons for tutoring.

kkilbane@news-sentinel.com


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