Triangle Community Foundation investing in youth literacy, basic needs

By Todd Cohen

[Note: I am working with Triangle Community Foundation as senior communications adviser.]

DURHAM, N.C. — Triangle Community Foundation is launching programs to invest in organizations that focus on pressing issues in the Triangle.

Based on regional data and recommendations from community leaders and funders, the Foundation has developed new programs that will initially provide support for youth literacy and community development.

In the first phase of the new programs, focusing on support for people, the Foundation will make investments to strengthen organizations that address childhood literacy or provide comprehensive support services for individuals.

The Foundation will provide funds to build the capacity of organizations that have shown success in helping to improve children’s reading by third grade, or in increasing access to well-integrated permanent housing, mental and physical health, and employment services. Priority will be given to groups that collaborate with other organizations.

“To achieve a lifetime of success, children must be able to read and write,” says Lori O’Keefe, the Foundation’s president. “Yet far too many children in the Triangle are falling behind in basic literacy skills and are left with limited opportunities to catch up.

“People in our region also need an affordable place to live, good health care and a job that pays a living wage,” she says. “Yet many in the Triangle lack access to housing, health and employment.”

By strategically investing in the effectiveness of organizations that collaborate on those issues, she says, “the Foundation will be able to make a significant impact on the people and places in our region.”

The Foundation will use funds contributed by donors who do not restrict the use of those dollars or who designate that they be used in a particular field of interest, such as education or community development. Of the $165 million in assets managed by the Foundation, nearly $1 million in this discretionary funding is available each year.

The initial investment will include grants averaging $2,500 to help organizations assess their organizational strengths and capacity challenges, followed by grants averaging $10,000 to $15,000 to help them build their organizational capacity.

In 2014, the Foundation’s new “Support for People and Places” program will expand to focus on the region’s “cultural, artistic and natural vibrancy” by investing in arts and cultural organizations, and strategies that conserve land and protect green space.

Details about the new program, as well as application instructions for the initial capacity building partnerships are available at the Foundation’s website.

Deadline for the initial phase application is October 25.  Nonprofits interested in applying may  visit the Foundation’s website to register for information sessions to be held October 1, 7, and 8.

Triangle Community Foundation is a nonprofit that manages over $160 million in funds established by families, businesses, individuals, and organizations.

From these funds, it makes grants to nonprofit organizations and administers a variety of programs for the community’s benefit.

The Foundation manages over 790 funds, ranging in size from $10,000 to $7 million, mainly for the benefit of Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham counties. During fiscal 2012-13, the Foundation granted over $13 million to nonprofits, schools and community efforts.

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