A Partnership Approach to Grantmaking
When College Bound STL approached YouthBridge about its Think Big for Kids grant, YouthBridge’s vice president, Barbara Carswell, had a big idea of her own.
First, she suggested they consider moving their application to another fund under YouthBridge’s administration, the William S. Anheuser Charitable Fund, which includes education within its grantmaking guidelines. Then she took it a step further, reaching out to another organization that supported College Bound’s mission and suggesting they apply for their own funding from the Anheuser Fund.
Carswell explains, “Because we strive to partner with our clients, and we knew that the College Bound application was within the Anheuser funding area, we brought the application to their attention. We also knew that they support food assistance programs. Once we realized that many students at the Community College are hungry, we thought that a grant to the STLCC Student Food Assistance Program would be an ideal supplement.”
College Bound empowers promising students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve bachelor’s degrees and fulfilling careers. They partner with St. Louis Community College (STLCC) to provide long-term support to help students earn their degree.
Funding from the William S. Anheuser Charitable Fund will allow them to continue and expand a 2017 pilot program that pairs coaches with first time college students to ensure a smooth transition and help them take advantage of all the resources available to them.
Executive Director Scott Baier spoke of the importance of having early support to get from a pilot to a fully-developed program. “I think there’s a tendency to go with what works. [For YouthBridge] to see the benefit in a program that’s just getting off the ground, and agreeing to be part of something from the start… it’s just great. I’m so glad to know that YouthBridge and the Anheuser Fund are looking for new and innovative ideas.”
However, challenging life situations, including housing instability and persistent hunger, can sidetrack students’ ability to complete college. Many of the students attending STLCC come from school districts where nearly 75% of elementary and high school students qualify for free/reduced lunch. That hunger doesn’t end with high school graduation, but publicly-available funding does.
According to Jo-Ann Digman, Executive Director of the St. Louis Community College Foundation, issues stemming from those unmet needs are compounded in the community college setting, where on-campus housing and meal plans are not provided and therefore not covered by financial aid. The William S. Anheuser grant allows them to continue a pilot program providing dining options for students, often their only reliable meal of the day. Previously, teachers would often provide food in their classroom or donate brown bag lunches to address student hunger.
Working as a partner with Foundation clients is just one way YouthBridge Community Foundation serves to bridge resources with community needs. By combining that approach with a deep understanding of area nonprofit organizations and an innovative approach to grantmaking, YouthBridge is helping generous donors and passionate nonprofits reduce barriers to success for at-risk youth.