Get The Lead Out: Federal Grants Protect Children From Hidden Health Threats In Homes

Don’t blame Freddie Mae Slaughter, who has painted the interior walls of her Kansas City home at least two or three times in the past 19 years, if she missed a spot. She hadn’t given a thought that the window sills between the inside and outside panes were saturated with lead.

Now, Slaughter, 63, is banking on a federal grant to get the lead out and make her 1950s-built home safe for the two-year-old she babysits during the week.

Despite a four-decade-old ban on lead paint used in home projects, potential health threats linger in Kansas City and across the nation. In 2016, 519 Kansas City children younger than 6 tested positive for high lead levels in their blood, compared to 275 just a year earlier and about 400 in 2011.

Lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, yet approximately half a million kids, ages 1-5, in the United States have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the reference level at which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend public health action. And no city appears immune from the dangers. In New York, more than 820 children younger than age 6 who lived in public housing in the city were found to have elevated levels of lead in their bloodstream between 2012 and 2016.

Unsafe levels of lead in the blood can lead to a wide range of symptoms, from headaches and stomach pain to behavioral problems and a lack of health red blood cells. Lead also can affect the development of a child’s brain. New research suggests the hazards are not limited to children. More than 400,000 U.S. adults die annually from heart disease and other conditions aggravated by lead exposure in their younger years. That’s 10 times the previous estimates of deaths linked to long-term effects of living with lead.

After decades of decline, rising estimates in the number of lead-poisoned children may be due, in part, to tougher CDC recommendations for addressing dangerous levels in the blood. Acceptable blood concentration from 40 micrograms of lead per deciliter in the 1970s were tightened to 10 micrograms in the 1990s and 5 micrograms per deciliter in the past decade.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said the federal government continues to offer grants to protect children from lead-based paint poisoning. State and local agencies can find funding opportunities that assist in identifying and remediating lead-based paint in rental units and owner-occupied housing at GrantWatch.

Grants to USA Agencies to Remediate Housing Hazards Related to Lead-Based Paint

Grants to Nebraska Nonprofits, Schools, and Individuals to Enhance Child Care Programming Includes Lead paint removal/abatement (maximum cap of $1500.00 total

Grants to Santa Fe, New Mexico Nonprofits, Agencies, For-Profits, and IHEs for Housing and Community Services Includes the costs associated with the evaluation and reduction of lead-based paint hazards as either its own activity or as part of a rehabilitation activity.

Experts agree that grant programs from the Environmental Protection Agency and Housing and Urban Development have helped dramatically reduce lead-poisoning risks within homes. However, greater public awareness and education is essential to protecting children before they are poisoned, said Julius Lawrence, a facilitator with Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today. The nonprofit in Syracuse, N.Y., where a study last year showed the city had the nation's highest percentage of lead poisoning among children from 2009 to 2015, is hosting a block party, April 28, 2018, to galvanize community support for prevention initiatives.

While community-based efforts make progress, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 20 percent of the homes in the United States still harbor lead-paint hazards. Of tens of millions of homes built before 1978, most have never been professionally inspected, much less treated, for lead.

Last fall, Slaughter, 63, took it upon herself to find out when she approached a crew doing abatement work across the street. The workers agreed to inspect her house and, after wiping, the siding, windows and floors, told Slaughter she could qualify for a HUD grant. Now, Kansas City officials plan to use the federal grant program to remediate the lead from her home and 70 other low-income properties like hers.

Municipalities, nonprofit agencies, small businesses, and homeowners frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants that help remediate and prevent lead poisoning can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

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No Butts About It, Keep America Beautiful Grants Aim to Curb Cigarette Litter

If residents of Coastal Georgia have their way, their beaches will never be the butt of jokes.

From the sand to the streets, a $15,000 grant will help volunteer groups get the word out that cigarette butts are not welcome on Tybee Island. The local effort is part of a three-month state initiative, dubbed “Georgia’s Coast is Not an Ashtray,” and the larger nonprofit Keep America Beautiful national program. 

Tim Arnold, founder of Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers, said his group has counted as many as 200,000 cigarette butts across local beaches in the past 18 months. When disposed of in water or discarded on land and blown into storm drains, cigarette filters not only litter the beach, but pose a threat to local animal, marine and plant life.

The Georgia campaign is not necessarily a threat to smoking, as it is about litter. Until the end of summer, Georgia’s six coastal counties will be raising awareness about the dangers of cigarette butts, distributing ashtrays and installing receptacles around high traffic areas including stoplights, along roadways and throughout public spaces.

Each year, Keep America Beautiful awards Cigarette Litter Prevention Program grants to affiliates, local governments, business improvement districts, downtown associations, parks and recreation areas, and other organizations dedicated to eradicating litter and beautifying communities. Many of these anti-litter grants at the state level as well as funding opportunities from government agencies and foundations aimed at litter prevention, recycling and environment are posted on GrantWatch.com.

Although smoking rates in the United States have declined, cigarettes remain the most frequently littered item in America. Cigarette butts make up 32 percent of all litter collected in the United States.

Keep America Beautiful grants are helping litter-prevention advocates combat cigarette trash in downtown Spokane, Wash., as well. The city’s Eco Team is one of 42 organizations nationwide to receive grant funding through the 2018 Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, the largest such effort in the nation aimed at reducing cigarette litter. Keep America Beautiful has distributed some $3 million in grant funding to support local implementation of the program in more than 1,700 communities nationwide.

Heather Schroeder, a program manager for the nonprofit Downtown Committee of Syracuse, said smokers forget that cigarette butts are not biodegradable. Her group conducted a survey as part of its application for the $5,000 Keep America Beautiful grant. The Downtown Committee will use the money it received to buy receptacles and to put up posters and run radio ads urging smokers to use them instead of flicking their cigarette butts on the ground.

Nonprofits, community-based groups, municipalities and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants to provide environmentally friendly services including litter prevention initiatives can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

 

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For Developmentally Disabled Children and Adults, Riding Center Is More Than Horse Play

From a platform underneath the awning of a new arena, the mother of seven-year-old Nicholas Cosentino marveled at the confidence her son put on display as he sat up straight in the saddle for all to see.

Horses, she said, are “his thing.”

For far too long, Nicholas, has had difficulty focusing, but sessions at the Naples Therapeutic Riding Center appear to be improving his attention span. The Florida nonprofit provides psychotherapy for Nicholas who is diagnosed with autism and other equine-facilitated services for women and children with emotional, learning and developmental disabilities.

Through a series of grants and donations in the past decade, the riding center has expanded to include a 4,000 square-foot training and research center, a round riding arena and a four-stall barn complete with a stable of horses to accommodate some 700 participants.

Another $12,000 grant from Swing With Purpose this month will fund tailored learning and psychotherapy services for at-risk children and teens from the PACE Center for Girls in Jacksonville and the Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Immakolee. Participants will attend eight-week sessions in which they will work directly with horses and in groups to help improve their lives.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said thousands of dollars in grant funds are available to help children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities push their boundaries. GrantWatch lists grants for treatment services, research, and transportation, housing, recreation and peer support programs among other funding opportunities.

Beside Nicholas Consentino, the riding center works with participants ranging in age from 4 to 82 years old. Their conditions vary from Down syndrome and spina bifida to an even wider range of emotional, learning and developmental challenges. Many, due to cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis, are wheel-chair bound or need crutches.

In recent years, the riding center has expanded programming to military veterans and partnered with dozens of community organizations including the David Lawrence Center for those struggling with substance abuse.

Lee Consentino said the one-week sessions for her son at the riding center are more than horse play. Nicholas can ride his horse, Dexter, around the arena, picking up bean bags and dropping them in poles. When he’s done, Nicholas is on his high horse, yet, he can jump off Dexter with ease.

Nonprofits, school districts, municipalities and communty-based groups frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants to provide services for children and adults with development disabilities can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

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Suicide Prevention Grants: Teen Programmer Addressing Mental Health One App At A Time

Anorexia, anxiety and depression were killing Amanda Southworth until technology stepped in to save her life. That’s what the 16-year-old says lifted her from a downward spiral and, above all, seven attempts at suicide.

The road to recovery for Southworth began in the palm of her hands. As a junior in high school, she created a mobile app that would help her cope, relieve stress, and eventually transform her thoughts of suicide into a belief that she can help others with similar emotions.

Her app debuted two years ago. AnxietyHelper serves as a mental health resource guide featuring games to help young people fight off panic attacks. But, that’s not all. The app applies a user’s location settings to find life-saving resources nearby as well as information for loved ones who want to help.

Building apps proved to be Southworth’s ticket into the world of technology. From there, her career in cyberspace took off. Earlier this year, Southworth started her own company, Astra Labs, a software development nonprofit supported by donors and a $25,000 grant from the TOMS Social Entrepreneurship Fund.

The nerdy kid is now a budding small business owner who believes her self-help apps are modest, but important tools at a time when suicide rates in nearly every state have risen. And half of those figures in states, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, have increased by more than 30 percent in the past two decades. Suicide is now a major public health issue, accounting for nearly 45,000 deaths in 2016 alone.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said that’s why funding sources are not only taking a comprehensive look at mental health issues, but, more specifically suicide prevention tactics. Grants designed to raise awareness, support education and research, develop unique treatments and provide avenues for help to prevent suicides can be identified in the mental health category of GrantWatch.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among Americans. CDC reports one person every 12 minutes will take their own life. Despite the somber statistics and the recent high-profile deaths of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, federal funds for suicide prevention continue to fall behind support for other major public health concerns.

But, not all crisis prevention initiatives go unfunded. State and community-based programs like Sources of Strength, which, through the Idaho Department of Education, this month awarded grants to 17 schools to create a system to help students cope with life’s challenges and prevent suicide.

Meanwhile Colorado has chimed in to stem the rising tide of youth suicide. Grants totaling $400,000 will help schools pay for suicide-prevention training for all campus employees including teachers, front-desk attendants and custodians. The grants – from $5,000-$10,000 – must be used to train school personnel on the warning signs of impending suicide, diffuse crisis situations and connect troubled youth to mental health services. 

That’s a good step. Experts say direct intervention including suicide hotlines, can help people who are thinking about taking their own life to change their minds.

Amanda Southworth started having suicidal thoughts in middle school after her family had moved to a new town. At first, the stigma associated with suicide kept her from reaching out for help. And, when she finally did, she was told her morbid thoughts were a passing stage. To her credit, Southworth joined a school robotics team instead. Through programming, she soon learned to unravel codes and, in doing so, began to program a healthier course for herself and, now, others like her to follow.

School districts, educators, nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants including those promote mental health and address suicide prevention can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

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Brownfield Grants Fund Redevelopment of Abandoned, Contaminated Properties

The west side of Grand Rapids is looking up these days.

A blighted area is about to make way for a five-story building that will include 44 affordable apartments and a restaurant on the ground floor. A $330,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to the Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority will pay for environmental investigation and cleanup of the contaminated site where the former Red Lion restaurant – closed since 2004 – now stands.

Brownfields are vacant or abandoned commercial or industrial properties with known or suspected environmental contamination. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month announced that $15.7 million in supplemental funding will be offered to communities to assist them in the cleanup of these contaminated properties.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said brownfield grants that restore toxic land to beneficial use provide the resources to not only improve public health, but spur economic growth. Local agencies can tap into funds to carry out these cleanup and redevelopment projects on GrantWatch. Grants for the environment can also be used in the cleanup.

Congress recently passed legislation to speed and ease the process for revamping these abandoned sites. For one, eligibility for EPA grants to assess and cleanup brownfield sites has been expanded to include nonprofits as well as businesses. Plus, to ensure more land will be returned to use, funding has also been raised to as much as $500,000 for each application. Redevelopment of one acre can cost some $250,000.

The redevelopment project in Grand Rapids is expected to cost more than $11 million but help to create 55 new jobs. Atlantic City Mayor, Frank Gilliam, who has been working to remove barriers for new development along sections of the beach, said environmental assessments can cost thousands of dollars. His city is fortunate to have received grant funds to cover these costs. Gilliam believes programs that promote mix-use will encourage other developers to bring their projects to Atlantic City.

Residents in the Northern Michigan town of Grayling have been beset with concerns about their drinking water since per fluorinated chemicals were found near an airfield around Lake Margrethe. The state has been providing residents that live near the site with clean water and filters. But, residents of Grayling can be exposed to these hazards by not only drinking water. Wind can carry contamination as well.

Erich Podjaske, the zoning and economic development administrator in Grayling, hopes a brownfield grant will be the impetus to bring more people downtown. Local developers plan to create both commercial space and apartments that are critical to small communities like Grayling.

Dave Vargo, who owns Paddle Hard Brewing down the street from the brownfield site proposed for redevelopment, hopes the project will benefit business and the rest of downtown Grayling. Without the $454,000 grant, Grayling officials say, the cleanup and redevelopment project would have been a challenge.

Nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants to cleanup the environment including brownfield sites can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch.com

Nonprofits Urged Define Their Fundraising Needs Before Searching for Grants

Permission granted! That’s the time you’ve waited for, when the project you conceived has been approved by the Board of Directors and you can finally formulate a fundraising plan to raise the funds needed to make your idea a success.

Develop a plan to find the money you need to bring your concept to life. 

 A written account of your project’s demands will make your search for funding that much easier and can be used as a resource when the time comes to complete the grant application or start a crowdfunding campaign. Every plan should include:

  • Background – Document that your organization is financially stable, well-respected, managed properly and worthy of receiving external funds;
  • Mission – Articulate “why” your organization exists;
  • Needs – Gather both facts and stories to support the requisites of your project and the needs of the target population;
  • Timeline – Schedule of events or activities that will be conducted once the project is funded;
  • Evaluation – Plans to assess the project and tools to measure its impact;
  • Budget — Materials, supplies, and personnel required to achieve project goals;
  • Costs – An estimate of the total amount of money needed to economically complete the project.

Once you have gathered this information, you can begin to identify relevant grants and their funding sources. GrantWatch.com is a popular online resource that matches nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals to funding opportunities from local, state and federal agencies, corporations, foundations and other nonprofits. The process is simple. Sign up on GrantWatch and begin to search for funds.

Agencies, nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with acquiring grants for their proposed programs and projects can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

 

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch

When Police Require Top Dogs, Steelers Quarterback Funds K-9 Units Through Foundation Grants

Wearing a protective covering over his arm, JuJu Smith-Schuster wasn’t dodging defenders like he normally does on Sunday afternoons during the National Football League regular season. The wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers was, instead, warding off a police dog at a Sunday afternoon charity softball game in Findlay, Ohio.

The stunt, watched by an estimated 2,000 fans, was part of an event that raised money for Findlay High School athletics and the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation. Roethlisberger is the Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the Pittsburg Steelers. His foundation is known for its work with K-9 service dog units.

Grants to USA Police and Fire Departments in Multiple States to Support their K-9 Units 

Grant Deadline: 08/15/18

Roethlisberger, who attended Miami of Ohio University before embarking on an All-Pro career with the Steelers, said he enjoys giving back to the community. Over the years, the Roethlisberger Foundation has awarded some $2 million in grants to police and fire departments across the United States.

Despite the rivalry between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Roethlisberger decided to give back through grants to both the Lorain Police Department and the Medina County Sheriff’s Office. Lorain police will use the grant funds to update K-9 training equipment and install a shelter to hold stray dogs found in the community until an owner can be reached.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of Grantwatch.com, said foundations that support safety initiatives are the secret weapons of law enforcement. Thousands of dollars in grants from foundations and government agencies are posted on GrantWatch. These funding sources enable communities to hire new police offers, test new strategies and obtain technology to improve their response to crimes as well as improve public safety through the investigation of illegal drug activities.

Fort Mitchell Chief of Police Col. Andrew J. Schierberg said his grant helps a smaller department, like his in Kentucky, support K-9 units, while in Avon, Ind., the Roethlisberger Foundation will fund the purchase of another police dog to strengthen the interdiction of illegal drugs, such as heroin and dangerous opioids. Foundation grants have also funded new ballistic vests to keep K-9 partners safe when they protect and serve.

Sharpsburg Mayor Matt Rudzki swore in the newest member of the borough police department last month. K-9 Officer Jango is already busy working with Officer Jeff Hussar, who said he has fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming the department’s K-9 officer’s handler. A grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation helped bring in Jango, the vehicle that transports him and his training at Shallow Creek Kennels.

Local law enforcement agencies, nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with acquiring support to reduce crime can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

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After Failed Grant Request, County Struggles to Support Victims of Violent Crimes

After more than 20 years of support, victims' rights in Kane County are struggling to find a leg to stand on. That’s because the local state attorney’s office was denied a grant request to fund three full-time advocates that would have provided services for victims of violent crimes.

But, even though the most recent grant request for $104,368 was denied, the Kane County State Attorney Joseph McMahon will not have to put public safety on the back burner. Several local agencies have stepped up to provide human resources and the power to keep the Victims' Rights Unit functioning until the attorney’s office can get the Illinois Justice Information Authority to reevaluate their grant proposal.

The state attorney’s office had always counted on a grant from ICJIA, which divvies up funds under the federal Victims of Crime Act administered through the U.S. Department of Justice. Over the course of two decades, the victim’s crime unit and its members had been recognized by state lawmakers for their service.

Until the grant funding is squared away, McMahon has assigned some responsibilities of the unit to prosecutors and support staff as well as advocates from police departments and other divisions in the county, such as the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, the Community Crisis Center and Mutual Ground, a domestic violence shelter.

County governments in Illinois rely on different methods to fund their services for victims of violent crimes, domestic abuse and child neglect, and other programs. Some divisions apply for grants. Others draw money from the county's general fund. McMahon said his office was notified in December that the grant application for fiscal year 2018 had been rejected and, as a result, the matching contribution of $59,982 from Kane County as well.

Rejected grant proposals are more common than they are rare. Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said that many organizations, in their haste to secure funding, fail to follow instructions outlined in the request for proposals. Most funding sources provide specific instructions for presenting and submitting proposals. Grant applications that do not adhere to guidelines are typically the first to fall by the wayside. They are not even read – they are placed in the virtual trash bin.

"Another grave error in judgment (which may not specifically apply here) is when agencies become complacent and rely solely on one avenue of funding," said Hikind. "This places the agency staff and their constituents in constant and immediate jeopardy. Things change and an agency should never allow themselves to feel comfortable. Applications for grants that will provide funds for programs that assist victims of crime and abuse can be identified on GrantWatch."

Because an explanation is rarely communicated, the first step after a request has been denied should be to get on the phone and follow-up with an email to ask why. That’s why establishing a relationship – either over the phone or in a site visit — during the application process is a critical to securing funds at present or in the future.

Hikind invites the Kane County State Attorney to call her for assistance to create a YouHelp.com crowdfunding campaign until McMahon's office can complete the grant application process and receive funding. YouHelp.com was estblished to enable the community to step up-to-the-plate and chip in small amounts of money to keep needed programs operating.

McMahon said his office has already filed an appeal and is in the process of writing letters to each state lawmaker representing Kane county for assistance in identifying any new funds that could be targeted for the victims' unit. In the meantime, Kane County, the fifth largest in Illinois and home to 15 homicides last year, faces the reality of providing state-mandated services without grant funding.

Nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants that provide social services including support for victims of violent crimes and domestic abuse can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.comSign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

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As Gun Violence Cast Pall Over America, Millions in Grants Targeted for School Safety

Frantic students were running in every direction. Helicopters, ambulances and police cars surrounded the scene while a confused parent confronted a television reporter.

“My daughter,” she said. “Where’s my daughter.”

In the wake of the latest school shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 dead, plenty of questions were asked, not the least of which of educators, law enforcement officials and policymakers in Texas and their counterparts across the country who were left to propose how they planned to ensure school safety.

Many of the answers convey a need for bulletproof windows, panic buttons and armed shelters in classrooms; others call for the state police or sheriff’s departments to provide security officers to patrol schools. As school officials and local law enforcement authorities nationwide debate each pitch, they all recognize one salient point – all or any these measures will take money.

That’s why news last week that the federal government was awarding the Sant Fe Independent School District a $1 million grant to provide “essential services” was of some comfort to local educators, law enforcement authorities and a concerned community still recovering from the deadly May 18 shooting at the high school.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said since the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, some states have introduced legislature to provide funds.  School districts have also become more pro-active in looking for grants for security improvements. From Massachusetts to Wyoming, local public schools and districts, law enforcement, businesses and nonprofits can find identify funds on GrantWatch that promote safety, improve communications, increase preparedness and generally enhance the ability of all stakeholders to respond to a crisis. 

Grants to USA Agencies and Tribes for Programs to Reduce Violent Crime in Schools

Grants to USA LEAs and IHEs to Support School Communities Following Violent and Traumatic Events

The announcement of new grants by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos comes on the heels of Gov. Greg Abbot’s plan to offer $120 million in funding to help strengthen school security across Texas.

Programs of this kind to prevent violence and keep students protected have already been established in Wisconsin, where the state’s first school safety grant was awarded to Kenosha Unified School District, last week. The $100 million grant will enable district leaders to create a physical environment conducive to preventing violence by providing mental health training, blue flashing lights and gunshot detectors in school buildings.

Currently, anyone who attempts to enter a Kenosha school building must first get “buzzed” in. Once they're inside, they're seen on surveillance cameras. By the time school reopens in the fall, the grant will have provided funds to install a shatter-proof film to cover the glass doors at every entrance. The school safety grant, however, does not allow the district to add more security officers, which is viewed as a recurring cost.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, who signed the decree, said hundreds more school safety grants will soon follow. More than 450 Wisconsin schools have submitted proposals to the School Safety Initiative Grant program, which awards each applicant up to $20,000 for added security measures.

The Gresham School District, which applied for a grant, is hoping to see some of that money to replace front doors with shatterproof glass, and install a camera, buzzer system and a fob lock system that will require teachers to swipe a card before entering buildings. School budgets are expected to cover the remaining costs of the district's estimated $130,000 safety plan.

The School Safety Initiative was launched by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shortly after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 14 students and three staff members. So far, in 2018 alone, the United States has witnessed 23 school shootings in which someone was hurt or killed. That averages out to more than one shooting a week.

Nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and concerned citizens frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants to curb school violence and support homeland and national security can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at GrantWatch.com. Sign-up to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

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Back from Afghanistan, American Army Veterans Find Spice of Life in Small Business

After completing combat tours in war-torn Afghanistan, a couple of American army officers realized they had some unfinished matters of service to address when they returned home. The Chicago-based entrepreneurs meant business.

Rumi Spice, launched in 2014, is the brainchild of army veterans and co-founders Kimberly Jung, Keith Alaniz and Emily Miller who wanted to empower rural Afghan farmers by working directly with them to import high-quality saffron to homes, stores and restaurants in the United States. Out of that idea, Rumi Spice has been able to generate sales — last year of more than $1 million — while introducing an alternative to opium for Afghans to farm.

Of course, appearing on an episode of the television show “Shark Tank” last year, when the owners of Rumi Spice received a $250,000 investment offer from Mark Cuban, and winning the grand prize of $25,000 in the FeDex Small Business Grant Contest, hasn’t hurt business, either.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch,com, said small business grants like the FeDex grant award are more beneficial to startups because, unlike loans, they don’t have to be repaid. While government grants provide a large portion of money to incubate small businesses in their early growing stages, they are not the sole nest egg for up-and-coming startups to covet.

MWBEzone.com, the small business service of GrantWatch, lists government grants, corporation grants and foundation grants and funding opportunities for small businesses from corporations, some of which back the most prominent brands in the world. FeDex selected Rumi Spice for the small business grant from among 7,800 entries.

Rumi Spice evolved from a startup program at Harvard Business School, where Jung and Miller were students. The forward thinkers had already made a connection with Carol Wang, an international tax attorney with the Afghan Rural Enterprise Development Program, which links local enterprises to companies that have the potential for high growth on the global market.

Thanks to the partnership, more than 1,900 Afghan women have gained employment at three facilities, where they hand-process the saffron during the five-week harvest season each year. From Afghanistan, the saffron is then shipped to Rumi Spice at a facility in the Backyards section of Chicago where it is packaged and sent to Michelin-star restaurants and consumers across the United States. The Rumi Spice network, which boasts more than 300 Afghan farmers, sustains 3.6 percent of Afghanistan’s total foreign direct investment in agriculture.

For-profit entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, particularly minority and women-owned, frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at MWBEzone.com. By registering, subscribers gain access to both MWBEzone.com and GrantWatch.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch

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