Clark County’s Greater Clark Foundation is asking local residents to step up and share their aspirations for a better community, and it is offering grants of up to $10,000 to qualifying individuals and organizations that offer the best ideas.
The health legacy foundation was created in 2010 with the profits from the sale of the old Clark Regional Medical Center, a community nonprofit hospital, to the LifePoint Corporation. The foundation, which officially began operation in February 2012, distributes grants, promotes initiatives and create projects that will lead to a better community, and, ultimately healthier citizens.
The grant opportunities, which are part of the foundation’s new “What’s Your Ambition?” campaign, were announced Oct. 2 at AmbitionFest, held at Winchester's George Rogers Clark High School. Prior to the event, signs were placed throughout Winchester with the slogan, and new videos were posted daily at clarkambition.org, with residents talking about goals for their own lives and the community as a whole. Through the videos, Clark County residents shared ideas for helping the community, including Margaret Taylor’s hope of partnering with Winchester First United Methodist Church to create a soup kitchen, and Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Lewis’ hope of seeing more racial integration. Others spoke about personal goals, like creating a party and event planning business or finishing a college degree.
Although the goals may not seem all directly related to improving health, they all drive back to it according to foundation CEO Jen Algire who said the foundation is looking at a variety of ways to improve overall quality of life, while focusing on the two biggest indicators of health — poverty and education.
“The stress of poverty can actually be toxic, damaging the body,” said Algire, who previously served as chief of staff at Premier Healthcare Alliance in Charlotte, N.C. “We know that the way out of poverty is education.”
The foundation wants to invest in a more in education, poverty and parenting, helping children receive a foundation for future success.
“It’s not real flashy, but it has the potential to change our community,” Algire said.
There is no deadline for the Ambition grants, and decisions will be made about each applicant within 30 days. Projects must have a measurable outcome for the community, and must be completed within 90 days. Grants are available to anyone with a project meeting the criteria, including churches, civic organizations and nonprofits, and complete guidelines are available at clarkambition.org.
AmbitionFest was designed to help motivate people and get individuals and organizations thinking about potential projects, Algire said. Larger grants could also be distributed in the future, but Algire said she does not want the foundation to be only a passive grantmaker, as the foundation will be launching some of their own initiatives.
“Money is a resource, but it's not the only resource,” Algire said.
The foundation helped to fund the initiative MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships), led by the Clark County Health Department, which focused on impediments to good health in Clark County and led to the creation of a Community Health Improvement Plan. The plan outlines ways to lower rates of obesity, teen pregnancy and drug use. Through the MAPP process, several initiatives have been created to engage the community. One of those was Walk Bike Clark County, a program created by the Winchester-Clark County Activity Coalition. The organization mapped several routes for bikers through the downtown district in Winchester, and is working with the Kentucky Department of Transportation and the Winchester Board of Commissioners to permanently mark the paths with signs.
The Walk Bike committee also plans to apply for an Ambition grant to help pay for the signs.
Smaller, community-driven grant projects can help to leverage funds in ways that expand the foundation's reach and effectiveness, according to Algire.
“A small amount of money can create a lot of momentum,” she said.