Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Three Months - Three Projects - Three Incredible Non Profits!

 


April - Education Can Change a Life 

George Mason Foundation Dream Scholarship 

Need:  George Mason University is home to one of the largest DACA and undocumented student populations in Virginia.  Undocumented students cannot legally receive any federally funded student financial aid, including loans, grants, scholarships or work-study money. In Virginia, students are eligible for in-state tuition and, beginning in 2022-2023, students who cannot complete the FASA, can apply for state financial aid through the Virginia Alternative State Aid application (VASA).

Impact of COVID:  According to a recent survey, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on many Dreamers’ financial well-being. Many have lost jobs or had their work hours reduced. The percentage of students who work fell from 70 percent before the start of the pandemic to 43 percent after; 83 percent have an immediate family member who was laid off or whose hours were cut due to COVID-19.

Opportunity to Support a Dream!  The Mason Dream Scholarship (a 501c3) was established in 2016 in response to the overwhelming financial need of this population and provides support to students whose immigration status may hinder them from accessing higher education and financial assistance.  Over the last six years, the Mason Dream Scholarship, housed in the School of Business, has awarded over $18,000 to 11 students with a cumulative grade point average of  3.29.  

Our Dreams Were Far EXCEEDED!  April's project team set a goal to sponsor one student's $1500 scholarship.  Thanks to the more than 50 generous members who sponsored our project, we were able to surpass our goal and fund three George Mason Dream Scholarships.  WOW!

   

May - Supporting Our Minds Matter 

During Mental Health Awareness Month 

Need:  We've all seen the impact on our families, friends and community on the state of mental health for children, teens and young adults. To raise visibility on the issue, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia convened the first Shape of the Region conference on mental health and released research designed to address the "need for accessible, affordable treatment in the midst of collective trauma".  Click Here to read CFNoVA's report "Finding Our Way Back to Mental Health".

Our Minds Matter's Vision to End Teen Suicide:  Our Minds Matter (OMM), formerly the Josh Anderson Foundation, was established in 2012 in Vienna, VA as an innovative and grassroots effort to prevent teen suicide. This upstream suicide prevention model is based on resiliency research and the power of peer-to-peer influence amongst adolescents. OMM seeks to improve four outcome areas in student participants that are proven to decrease the risk of suicide:  social connectedness, help-seeking behavior, positive coping skills, and prosocial skills

Impact of COVID:  "I truly believe that the 97 OMM clubs in 97 school communities were what made the difference for so many students who might have otherwise fallen apart.  That their consistent club meetings became the glue that held them together- because their safe place became a necessary thing that tethered them to their school and community."  Lauren Anderson, Executive Director OMM

Opportunity to Support an OMM Club:  May's project team provided opportunities for members to support OMM through hands-on and financial support.  On May 1st, members joined organizations dedicated to supporting teen mental health at the first Our Minds Matter Move Day.  Members set up, manned the course, and cleaned up after a day dedicated to the benefits of selfcare and movement.  Over the course of Mental Health Awareness month, members successfully raised funds to sponsor an Our Minds Matter at a local high school.


June - Creating Special Spaces for Families at 
Embry Rucker Shelter 


Need:  Adults and children in families make up about 30% of the homeless population.  Homelessness can have a tremendous impact on children—their education, health, sense of safety and overall development—yet they are also highly resilient. Research shows us that play is more than just kids keeping busy or having fun, play is joyful and provides an outlet for anxiety and stress. And just as important, it is a source of development.

Embry Rucker Shelter:  The Embry Rucker Community Shelter is a 70-bed residential shelter that provides healthy, safe, emergency housing for individuals and families.  They are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and employ 20 full-time staff members.  They also have part-time staff and more than 400 volunteers dedicated to helping clients get back on their feet. While most shelters available to families contribute to the destabilizing trauma homeless children experience, Cornerstones’ Embry Rucker Shelter provides stability, empowerment and hope. 

S4G's Project and Amazing Results:  Social4Good's project was designed to help children by creating safe (and fun!) places for families experiencing homelessness and sheltering at Embry Rucker. 

Our June project team offered members opportunities to donate in-kind and financially, as well as attend two in-person events to work together to support the Shelter. The first hands-on project was dedicated to sorting over 800 books and 100 games and puzzles donated by our generous community.  Members created an initial library of items to ensure there was something available for every age and will keep an inventory to replenish the Shelter when needed. 

Then members met to beautify the indoor and outdoor family spaces at the Shelter.  On the playground, members could be found removing old rubber tiles to power wash the basketball court, cleaning up the playground to make the most of limited pay area, and building an outside storage bin and sand table to fill with toys.  Inside, members did a spring cleaning and installed a new cubby system for art and crafts supplies; crated a library with books, games and puzzles for all ages; and added a carpet and pillows to the common area. 

The "Good" did not end there!  In addition to providing items to beautify the indoor and outdoor space, the project sponsored much needed tools and supplies to maintain the Shelter and support the residents.  The team also has plans to work with children at the Shelter to create a mural to welcome future residents.  

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