WALLA WALLA — In its fifth year of funding community programs, the First Fruits Fund will feed more than $125,000 into community programs this spring.
The granting program was established in 2008 with a grant from the Vista Hermosa Foundation at Broetje Orchards in Walla Walla County. Since then, the fund has dispensed 86 grants exceeding $715,000.
The idea behind grant choices is to encourage creative partnership approaches to building self-sufficiency for the area’s most under-served people, said Lawson Knight, executive director of Blue Mountain Community Foundation, which administers the grants. The focus is on improved access to some of the most basic needs, such as housing, food, education and livable wages.
First Fruits founders believe that’s best done through community partnerships that help people identify what they need and learn how to make the changes needed to change their lives, Knight added.
To that end, this year funds will be funneled toward five new and eight renewing recipient programs.
In a joint venture between Walla Walla High School Latino Club and Boy Scouts of America, Explorer Post 311 has about 175 members and promotes education, culture and representation of the Latino community here. Club members seek ways to serve the community at large, attend educational conferences and social outings. This club received $3,000 to promote those efforts.
Friends of Farm Labor Home is launching a leadership development program for seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders living at the farmworkers’ housing. A grant of $6,000 will allow about 40 children to participate as staff from Walla Walla YMCA lead them in activities to build multiple skill sets.
To help with a recently renewed effort to permanently house people, the Walla Walla Council on Homelessness will be receive $600. Although modest, the amount will finish paying consulting fees, Knight said.
In what might be the most invisible granting, $10,000 will go to start the “INK-OUT Tattoo Removal Project,” a concept recommended by Walla Walla Community Council to help people who have left gang life behind erase related tattoos. The money has helped buy state-of-the art tattoo-removal equipment.
To help address the waiting list for eligible Head Start preschool students in the Walla Walla Public School District, $10,000 will be used for expenses to bus children via school district buses to the YMCA for preschool classes on its campus. This allows kids who are eligible and would benefit from early education to be enrolled in such classes.
Programs granted money for at least a second year include:
Blue Mountain Action Council’s Commitment to Community — $30,000.
Blue Mountain Action Council’s Children’s Resilience Initiave — $10,000.
Columbia County Community Network — $3,000.
Columbia School District — $10,000.
The Health Center at Lincoln — $7,000.
Lincoln High School — $25,000.
Trilogy — $5,000.
Walla Walla Community College Foundation — $10,000.