Community, Cottage Grove, Creswell, Here to Help, Springfield

Over $400K granted to Lane County nonprofits

Lane County has recently received a helping of grants for some of its nonprofits from Three Rivers Foundation. Awarded by Three Rivers Foundation, across the state over $720,000 was allocated to 95 nonprofits, and over half of that allocated money – $407,464 – went to 53 nonprofits in Lane County.

Each year, the foundation distributes funds to a diverse range of nonprofits, in sectors ranging from healthcare and education, to combating food insecurities, and enriching the lives of children. The foundation was established by the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians as the charitable arm of the Three Rivers Casino Resort.

Here’s what some of those Lane County nonprofits had to say about the grants:

Laurie McNichols, SMART Reading South Valley Area director, said SMART Reading will be using the $5,000 for its shared reading programs, an expansion of its book bank, and to focus on visibility. 

PHOTO PROVIDED BY SMART READING

Singing Creek Educational Center based in Cottage Grove received $3,000 from the foundation, which will be going toward program development and expansion. 

“It helps us feel valued in the community with the work that we do, and it will help us in our mission to bring living history education to kids and families,” said Karen Rainsong, Singing Creek Educational Center director.

Loa Farr, St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP)’s First Place Kids Program (FPKP) manager, said the $5,000 from Three Rivers Foundation has put FPKP incredibly close to having all necessary funds to transform the parking lot where kids currently play into a real playground. She said this may happen as early as this summer.

“A year ago, I would sit in the playground parking lot and be like, ‘Can we do this? That would be amazing, but it doesn’t seem likely.’ Now we’re steadily getting grant funding for this specifically, and St. Vincent de Paul is doing their whole spring fundraising campaign toward this playground,” Farr said. “We’re still a little bit short of our goal, but there’s a couple more grants that might come through, and we’ll see how the spring fundraising campaign goes.”

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Lane County is a state-mandated program to support children in foster care, but according to executive director Kendra Jones, CASA doesn’t receive enough state funding to fully abide by the mandate.

“Our state funds for Lane County are $289,000/year. The overall state allocation for all CASA programs is $5.9 million/year. The interesting thing about that is in 2006, the state made a commitment to invest in the implementation of CASA programs across Oregon, and it had a goal of allocating $9.75 million by the year 2011,” Jones said. “Yet here we are in 2024 at $5.9 million, so we’re far short of that almost $10 million that was supposed to be allocated in 2011.”

PHOTO PROVIDED BY CASA OF LANE COUNTY
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Lane County is a state-mandated program to support children in foster care, and its volunteers are shown above. Three Rivers granted CASA $10,000 to continue helping local children.

Jones said CASA of Lane County typically writes upwards of 40 grants/year to ensure it has the funding to operate, which is how it landed $10,000 from Three Rivers Foundation. She said “our work would be impossible without” grant funding. CASA of Lane County typically serves 400-450 children/year, and it is able to do so thanks to its 19 staff members and over 200 volunteers.

“We have the second highest child maltreatment rate in the state with nearly 1,000 children spending time in foster care in Lane County,” Jones said. “While we love that we serve as many kids as we do, there’s a lot of kids that still need our support.”

Lane County Diaper Bank, a nonprofit which provides free diapers to families in need, was awarded $10,000 from Three Rivers Foundation again this year. Teresa Baur, founder and executive director, said a portion of this money will go directly to diaper support, and the remainder will go to supporting the diaper distribution office: a safe place where families can go to receive diaper support with no judgment.

“Knowing that people believe in the diaper bank enough to grant $10,000 is incredibly validating and motivating. It signifies that our mission and work of the Lane County Diaper Bank are not only recognized, but also valued by others,” Baur said. “It means that the community sees the importance of the organization’s efforts in providing essential resources to families in need.

“It’s affirming to see that my vision and dedication resonate with others, and it encourages me to continue striving toward our goals with even greater determination. Additionally, it demonstrates trust and confidence in the organization’s ability to make a meaningful impact, which further fuels our commitment to serving the community.”

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