Rotary Club of SJ-BH Announces Award of $65K in Foundation Grants to Local Groups


The applause may be more visible than audible, and everybody’s reaction is relegated to a tiny rectangle in a screen full of other rectangles, but the excitement and pride are every bit as palpable as would be played out in an in-person opportunity when $65,000 in grants get delivered just ahead of Christmas by the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation as happened during the noon hour today in the virtual realm.

The St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation today named the grant recipients for the 2020 funding cycle during their weekly Zoom meeting, bringing everybody together in the collective realm of the computer screen for the announcement. This year, a total of $65,000 was awarded to eight organizations as determined by the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation Board of Directors.

Established in 1980, the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation has awarded close to $1,000,000 in grants to area causes. 2020 Grant funding has been awarded for the following projects:

  • Berrien County Historical Association – $8,000 to assist covering costs related to the renovation of the 1870s Sheriff’s Residence.
  • Berrien Families Plus, Inc. – $10,000 to assist in funding 3 WINS (Work Inspires and Nurtures Success), an innovative restitution program for youthful offenders involved with the Juvenile court in Berrien County.
  • Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor – $10,000 to support the eLearning Center at the Joel E. Smilow Teen Center which provides access to technology, educational support programming, and Club professionals trained as virtual learning success coaches to area youth.
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates – $6,250 to recruit, train, and support 10 additional volunteers who will advocate on behalf of 25-30 new foster children in Berrien County and provide mileage reimbursement to the 37 currently active CASA volunteers who travel over 25,000 miles annually serving children in care.
  • Feeding America, West Michigan – $7,750 to fund ten mobile food pantries which will distribute thousands of pounds of nutritious food to communities in Berrien County.
  • Mosaic CCDA – $10,000 to provide on-site employment experience to graduates of the Jobs for Life program through one of Mosaic Social Enterprises.
  • St. Joseph Today – $11,000 to support marketing local businesses and to reduce membership fees for businesses in need, allowing them to focus on their missions, their business, their futures, and conserve their already constrained resources.
  • SBC Benevolent Ministries, Inc. – $2,000 to support purchase of technology needed to assist defendants referred by Berrien County Trial Court for Zoom arraignments to reduce backlog of arraigned cases.

To be eligible, a grant request must have been for a minimum of $5,000 and submitted by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or governmental unit within the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor area. Emphasis was given for efforts that seek to provide better opportunities for youth and special needs populations. Requests for sectarian religious projects and programs, national fundraising efforts, political organizations or funds for program deficits or previously incurred obligations are ineligible. Grant applications are accepted each fall to be considered for St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation funding.

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The mission of the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation is to improve lives in the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor community by supporting that focus on:

  • Improvement of health
  • Support of education
  • Economic and community development
  • Rotary International initiatives that have local impact

The resources of the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation come from gifts made by Rotarians and other individuals, families, businesses and local organizations. A volunteer Board of Directors from the club sets policy and approves all grants.

Shown in the photo accompanying this story, as provided by the Rotary Club, is new Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor CEO Mackenzie Kastl.