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Delaware County is having a moment. Nonprofits share $2.1M in funding to provide for crucial needs

group of people in a field behind a central person pushing a wheelbarrow full of produce June 14, 2021 Category: FeaturedFundingLong
The Foundation for Delaware County recently announced $2.1M in Impact Grant awards to 48 area nonprofits.

“We are proud to provide more than $2M in support to so many dedicated and deserving organizations,” said Frances Sheehan, foundation president. “While we wish we could have funded more programs, the 48 nonprofits that received grants will address some of Delaware County’s most critical issues including childhood trauma, post high school planning, health and food insecurity, housing stability, racial equity and much more.”

A public charity founded in 2016, The Foundation for Delaware County is the largest philanthropic organization serving Delaware County, PA. The foundation operates the new Center for Nonprofit Excellence and makes grants to strengthen Delaware County’s nonprofit community. The recent round of grants were awarded in the following areas: children’s health and wellbeing: $1,663,237; economic development: $123,706; food security: $214,362; hospice and home care: $55,000; and cancer: $26,278.

“The crisis of the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the number of older adults throughout our community facing food insecurity. Our nutrition program alone has seen over a 250% increase in demand this past year, and we have provided older adults over 35,000 meals to date,” said Katie Mahon, executive director of the Wayne Senior Center.

Two women with face masks packing meal boxes.

Wayne Senior Center members packing meals as part of the food program. (Courtesy of the Foundation for Delaware County)

“This funding will support the expansion of our emergency nutrition program and allow us to serve the older adults of the Radnor Township Civic Association neighborhood, a historically underserved area in Radnor,” Mahon said.

As part of this round of funding, the Wayne Senior Center received a $35,000 grant to provide nutritional safety net services for older adults in the Highland Park neighborhood.

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The Foundation also serves as a convener across sectors in order to more fully address challenging community issues.

“Delaware County is having a bit of a moment,” Sheehan said. “Our County Council is finally addressing a variety of different issues like establishing a new health department and a centralized food bank.”

“There is no centralized food bank in Delaware County,” Sheehan added. ‘There are lots of wonderful, wonderful pantries, but no centralized system. The County recently issued an RFP to attract a provider that would have the capacity and the interest to build a centralized food bank for Delaware County, awarded it to the SHARE Food Program, and the folks there have been spending time getting to know all the pantries in the County so that they can make sure that they are addressing their needs and not just coming in and saying, ‘okay, this is how we’re going to do things’. They recognize that in order to be successful, input on priorities and procedures should bubble up from the existing provider network.”

In addition to the Impact Award grants, the foundation has reached its final goal of $1M in funds raised for the Delaware County COVID-19 Response Fund and has completed the fund’s grantmaking with deployment of 98 grants to local nonprofits.

Most recently, the Response Fund enabled the foundation to provide additional funds to several Impact Grantees including: a free farmers market in Upper Darby to address food insecurity; housing, budget, and credit counseling for families impacted by the pandemic; and The Ruth Bennett Community Farm in Chester to provide access to nutrient dense produce for children and families.

Three people standing in a garden holding three boxes of food.

The Ruth Bennett Community Farm in Chester was a recipient of funding from the Delaware County COVID-19 Response Fund. (Courtesy of the Foundation for Delaware County)

In May, the Delaware County COVID-19 Response Fund issued a significant grant to a network of organizations in Chester, led by Making a Change Group, to provide vaccine education and outreach. The collaborative is educating community members about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and coordinating access for communities of color.

More than $53K in funding was awarded to organizations offering leadership and training programs that foster racial equity, including Widener University to support a leadership training and peer sexual health education program that focuses on developing advocates for racial and gender justice, and Delaware County Community College Educational Foundation to support the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) certificate program to advance community and economic development.

“Racial equity has long been a priority for the foundation,” Sheehan sad, “because our internal health programs were established to address the racial disparity and birth outcomes in the county. This year, we really looked at the nonprofits in the community that were either making that a priority or whose projects were specifically designed to address that.”

Sheehan is proud of the impact the Foundation has been able to have in the five years since they were established.

“Every day, nonprofits serving our county have been on the front lines offering critical services to Delaware County residents, addressing needs that have been dramatically exacerbated by the pandemic. The Foundation for Delaware County is deeply committed to being a resource for local nonprofits and will be here for the long-term,” she said.

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