OTTUMWA — Many nonprofit organizations are doing amazing things in Ottumwa and the surrounding area, and the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation has recently helped several of them reach new goals.
ORLF has released the 16 new grants from the Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund, totaling $162,720. The grants range in amount from $3,000 to $30,000.
A major milestone was also reached this grant cycle, as in the three years of the Bright Ideas program, more than $1 million in grants have been awarded to area organizations.
"It's a neat thing to be involved in a responsive grant-making program," said Kelly Genners, director of community leadership and grant-making for the Foundation. "We can respond to programs (the nonprofit organizations) want us to fund. We can respond right away and get the funding in their hands."
There are 10 basic categories that Bright Ideas has provided grants for, including youth development, arts and culture, public safety and housing, just to name a few. Many are smaller groups, Genners said, who aren't asking for much money. They just need a little funding to launch their new ideas.
Applicants apply online for the grant, explaining the scope of their ideas and how they will impact the community. The board and a committee review them and decisions are made based on how the money will be used and how thought-out the organization's plans are.
Instead of just mailing a check, which would be too easy, Genners said, all of the grantees are brought to a meeting where they can all meet.
"We're a relatively small community," Genners said, "and you'd be surprised what people don't know about each other."
But the Foundation's involvement doesn't stop once the funds have been distributed. They remain available for assistance and advice.
"We can help with board filling, budget planning, anything they need," Genners explained. "We continue to make it better, listening to what they're saying they need help with. This is so important for small organizations who are trying to stretch every dollar they can."