Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Blue Cross grant will help take kids to parks

Using the Arts & Science Council's power2give website, a $15,000 challenge grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield N.C. will help raise money for educational programs in Mecklenburg parks.

Children from low-income households would attend Adventure Camp, young people would learn about growing food, and kids would grow closer to the environment through the four projects that need funding. Mecklenburg's Park and Recreation department would run the projects.

"We want to give children in Mecklenburg County the opportunities to live a healthy lifestyle," Blue Cross executive Ellison Clary said in a statement.

The ASC, regrouping after the pounding it took from the recession, is trying to expand its influence beyond its traditional annual fund drive. That could include working with Park and Rec, ASC president Scott Provancher said recently. For example, the ASC might someday arrange cultural events in parks -- such as a Charlotte Symphony concert at the Romare Bearden Park in the works uptown.

But that would be in the future. For the moment, the focus is on Blue Cross' matching grant.

The power2give site, launched by the ASC last summer, enables nonprofits to post projects that need funding. Viewers can scan the proposals and donate to those they find appealing. For the parks projects, donations will go from the ASC's power2give through Partners for Parks, a Charlotte nonprofit, and finally to Park and Rec.

The first project eligible for the Blue Cross challenge grant is the Adventure Camp Scholarship Fund. It provides "unique ways for youth from low-income households to become engaged with the outdoors," the ASC's announcement says. The funding goal is $6,350.

That project will be on power2give for 90 days or until it meets its goal. Then three more projects will have their turns:
  • The greenhouse at McDowell Nature Center would be set up so young people can grow food.
  • After-School Outdoor Clubs would provide activities for 120 young people to learn about their connection to the natural world.
  • Environmental Education Scholarship Fund would enable 330 at-risk elementary and middle-school students to have "hands-on environmental education experiences," the ASC's announcement says.

"Many park and recreation programs have been impacted by cuts in government funding," Provancher said in a statement. The power2give site can "connect donors to these projects and projects and bring them to life."

Including a $100,000 matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, power2 give has raised more than $250,000 for more than 100 projects. The power2give site says the ASC takes about 12 cents per dollar to cover administrative costs. Partners for Parks won't take a cut for the Park and Rec donations, the ASC says.