Center of Community Support aids nonprofits in securing funds

September 3, 2009
| By: Aubrey Bloom

The Texas Engineering Experiment Station’s Center of Community Support (CCS) recently assisted two Texas nonprofit groups and the communities they serve obtain grant funds totaling $2,932,145. These two grants will each provide five years of financial support during a time when non-profits, school districts, and municipalities are struggling to continue services.

The Bryan Independent School District (BISD), located in Brazos County Texas, received notice in late July that its Pre-Kindergarten Early Start Program had been approved to receive five years of funding ($553,500 per year) from the Texas Education Agency (TEA). This grant will provide BISD the means to continue and expand its current Pre-K program to serve students ages 3 and 4, increase awareness and outreach to eligible families, and enhance professional development for teachers and teachers aids working with these young learners. In partnership with the local Head Start (HS) Program, BISD will provide space to accommodate additional classrooms and funding for expanding HS capacity to serve a minimum of 30 more students while improving professional development opportunities for its staff. It is expected that more than 688 BISD students, 30 Head Start students, and 31 Pre-K teachers will benefit from this program in the first year alone while 3,700 students and 45 plus teachers over the next five years will benefit. District demographics of the current pre-kindergarten student population indicate that almost 90% of the students are economically disadvantaged and 81% are at-risk of not completing their education. Mary Walraven of BISD stated that the Center for Community Support provided the "glue" that kept the project’s partners together and deserved credit for a strong proposal. "We had almost no changes to make during negotiations. This is the largest grant I’ve been affiliated with … with the fewest pre-award changes", Walraven stated. This grant will continue to provide and enhance Bryan ISD’s school readiness and ability to serve this high risk population.

In East Texas, Nacogdoches County’s Appleby Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) recently received a 2008 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $164,645 to be awarded over the next five years. Appleby VFD protects the surrounding communities as a product of its 23 mutual aid agreements. This increases the population served in its First Due and Automatic/Mutual Aid area to more than 45,000 residents. This funded grant proposal was developed and submitted through a collaborative effort between Appleby Volunteer Fire Department, Nacogdoches County Emergency Services District No.3, and the TEES Center for Community Support. The purpose of SAFER Grants is to aid fire departments by increasing the number of frontline firefighters and ultimately attaining 24-hour staffing and deployment capabilities. Specifically, the grant will provide matching salary support of three new firefighters for Appleby VFD over the next five years, the first full-time paid firefighters for this fire department. The addition of these positions will ensure not only improved local public safety services but benefit surrounding communities through enhanced mutual aid.

Since 2000, CCS has worked with 125 Texas fire and emergency service organizations, helping secure more than $4.5 million in competitive grants for improvements in firefighter and public safety. During this same period, the Center assisted 40 Texas schools and educational nonprofits in developing projects dealing with issues such as teacher training, vocational instruction, special services for the blind, minority outreach, and literacy and math initiatives which resulted in over $16.4 million for improvements in public education in Texas.

The TEES Center for Community Support provides a broad range of information, data and proposal writing services at no cost for Texas community-based nonprofit organizations. Support is available to pursue competitive funding for programs designed to improve the quality of life for Texans. In all, over $40.2 million in federal and private grants have been garnered for Texas' nonprofit sector with the direct assistance of the Center, of which 38 grants were awarded for long-term, multi-year funding support.

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