There might not have been any county nonprofits or community organizations present as usual on the third floor of Winchester Hall, but Tuesday still was a good day for many of them.
That’s because County Executive Jan Gardner (D), County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) and Council Vice President Michael Blue (R) presented $1 million in community partnership grant awards, an increase from the $950,000 awarded last year.
Thirty out of 44 applicants were awarded funds, Gardner said. Their requests totaled more than $1.25 million. This year marks the highest level of funding since Gardner launched the grants six years ago.
The grants are part of the fiscal 2022 budget, pending majority approval from the County Council.
They are used to help the homeless, senior citizens and overall community needs. Typically, award recipients would fill Winchester Hall during Gardner’s announcement, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, attendance was limited to Gardner, Keegan-Ayer, Blue and essential staff.
Keegan-Ayer said one of the first-time grant recipients was the Endangered Species Theatre Project, a company that focuses on diverse representation in local theater. The $10,000 grant would be used to create a theater program to serve both deaf and hearing children in order to build empathy among the two groups, she said.
Blue said another first-time grant recipient is Golden Care of Frederick, a nonprofit that provides “companion care to seniors with limited income at a subsidized rate to allow them to live independently as long as possible,” according to its website.
The $15,000 grant allows Golden Care to provide 1,000 hours of companion care for county seniors, Blue said.
Even though leaders of those groups and others weren’t present for Tuesday’s announcement, the county executive said their work is always important, especially during the pandemic.
“Some will say that government can’t do it all, and that’s certainly true. And that’s why we support these nonprofit organizations,” Gardner said. “Because together, we know we can do more … our goal is to lift people to a place of self-reliance.”