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We were pleased to announce $229,722 in annual Fall Grant awards—distributed to 79 projects in Bedford, Cambria, Somerset, and Indiana counties—as well as additional COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund grants, bringing the Rapid Response Fund grants awarded to a total of $312,595 since March.

The announcement was held on Nov. 12 at Alternative Community Resource Program Inc.’s (ACRP) Cambria City facility, which soon will house the new ACRP Adolescent Advocacy Center, funded in part through a $7,500 CFA Fall 2020 Grant. Like many of this year’s fall grants—and all of the Rapid Response Fund grants—the funding for ACRP supports a project that has become a more urgent need due to the pandemic.

The new Adolescent Advocacy Center addresses a critical gap for many area teens: access to Internet or devices for educational support. In addition, parents may not have the time or knowledge base to provide educational assistance to adolescents, a need exacerbated by the pandemic’s push to online learning resources for local schools.

The center will be open in the evenings and will have staff and equipment to help students and coach parents on how to work with their children on educational activities. It will also provide recreational activities, and staff will conduct mental health groups for attendees and their parents navigating the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. A partnership with Greater Johnstown School District will help ensure the programming is effective and aligned with students’ greatest needs, though attendance is not restricted to Greater Johnstown students.

CFA Associate Director Angie Berzonski said access to technology, reliable Internet, and learning support are more critical than they have ever been for many local families.

“Our distribution committee appreciated that this project was addressing an immediate and ongoing need to improve access for local teenagers,” she said. “The pandemic has made online learning access a necessity, and it is important to all of us that no children in our region fall behind. We want all of them to have the tools and the resources they need to learn in a safe environment.”

Many other Fall 2020 Grant awards also addressed COVID-19 related issues on some level: upgrading technology to enhance virtual programming, improving the ability to adhere to CDC health and safety guidelines, meeting increased demand for local services, and more. Here are just a few examples:
• Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County’s $2,500 grant for improved seating
• Johnstown Symphony Orchestra’s $4,660 grant for technology upgrades
• Laurel Arts’ $4,000 grant for scholarships for arts programming for students
• SAMA Bedford’s $3,500 grant for technology for virtual programming
• Sequanota Conference Center and Camp’s $1,960 grant for sanitization and technology upgrades
• United Way of the Laurel Highlands’ $1,500 grant toward its refrigerated truck
• YWCA Greater Johnstown’s $500 grant for cleaning supplies for Kuddle Korner Day Care

CLICK HERE for a county-by-county breakdown of 2020 Fall Grants awarded.

Those grants are in addition to the special emergency fund CFA launched in March to help many nonprofits, including local fire and ambulance services, continue operating in a period of crisis for the community.

For months, those grants were made on a rolling basis as the fund was specifically designed to deploy resources quickly—and to where they were most needed, CFA President Mike Kane said.

“Earlier this year, we saw the strain that local nonprofits were dealing with to respond to dramatically increasing needs, changing needs, and decreasing support from fundraising activity,” Kane said. “Our community stepped up to make sure help was there when it was needed. CFA was honored to help make this happen. We are grateful to the Foundation board for their support in making the initial $100,000 immediately available as well as Lee Initiatives Health & Wellness Endowment for providing an additional $100,000 so we could begin fundraising and grantmaking immediately.”

A total of 76 individual donors gave to the fund, in amounts ranging from $20 to $5,000, as well as other Community Foundation funds and regional foundations. In total, $312,594.50 was distributed to 72 nonprofits in the region. $9,357 remains in the fund and will be used toward COVID-19-related requests in CFA’s Spring 2021 Grants. Access the full list of the fund’s donors and grantees by CLICKING HERE.

Lee Initiatives CEO Donald Gardill said the fund and resulting grant awards aligned with Lee Initiatives’ mission.

“It was important to us that we were able to quickly address this health and economic crisis facing our community,” he said. “We were honored to uphold our mission and join together in caring for one another and supporting local nonprofits.”

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