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Grant money easier to get

Fresno Regional Foundation simplifies process for nonprofits

By Paula Lloyd / The Fresno Bee

Reprinted with permission.  

03/22/08 23:16:52

Local nonprofit organizations will havean easier time getting grants this year from the nonprofit Fresno RegionalFoundation, which simplified its grant application process.

Grant applications are available online this year and there is ashorter form for organizations seeking smaller grants, said Dan DeSantis, chiefexecutive officer of the foundation.

This year, $585,000 in grants will be given to nonprofit communityorganizations that work in the areas of arts and culture, youth and human services.

Arts and culture organizations can vie for $150,000 in grantmoney, including one grant of $50,000 that will go to an organization locatedin Fresno.Remaining grants will range from $1,000 to $20,000 each.

Youth organizations will be awarded $365,000 in grants. Of that,$225,000 is earmarked for teen pregnancy programs. Other grants will range from$1,000 to $40,000.

Human services organizations can apply for $70,000 in grant money,ranging from grants of $1,000 to $10,000. The Fresno Regional Foundation wasformed in 1966 to improve the quality of life in Fresno with philanthropic giving.

Broadening its grant award process and making it "fair andtransparent" is one focus of a two-year strategic plan recently approvedby the foundation's board, DeSantis said.

The plan also will look for ways to increase donations, whichwould mean more grant money could be awarded. "In a community this size,we could support $100 million in assets. This is the area of greatestneed" in the state, DeSantis said.

The foundation currently has nearly $40 million in assets,DeSantis said. The foundation invests the money that is donated and grant moneycomes from the interest earned on those investments.

About $15 million of the foundation's assets are in "donoradvised" funds, from people who specify that grants be used for specificprograms or causes.

The Foundation's Fund for the Common Good allows the board to givemoney for urgent community needs. In 2007, the foundation helped with donationsfor 20 Fresno County specialty farmers whose cropswere destroyed by freezing temperatures.

In previous years, the foundation has awarded small and largegrants, from $100 to the Fresno Madera Medical Society to $243,655 for the Marjaree Mason Center.The foundation also grants scholarships.

Read Fresno received $100,000 from the Fresno Regional Foundationtwo years ago. The money was not a grant, but a surprise donation given at thefoundation's 40th anniversary banquet in 2006, DeSantis said.

Fresno businessmanDoug Davidian, who is involved with Read Fresno, said the money helped ReadFresno buy a fingerprinting machine and train more volunteers. The result isthat Read Fresno volunteers are reading to more children than ever before.Children living in poverty are especially in need of reading help, he said.

"Children who live in poverty are read to only 24 hoursbefore they get to kindergarten," Davidian said, while children inmiddle-income families are read to about 1,200 hours before kindergarten."Who is more equipped to enter school?"

The reporter can be reached at or(559) 441-6756.



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