Community Grants Will Help Three Local Programs Provide Needed Services

 Children participate in story time during a Kindermusik class. Kindermusik was one of three recipients of the 2018 Women to Women Giving Circle grants. (Image Credit: Katie Henderson, Music Connections Foundation).

Children participate in story time during a Kindermusik class. Kindermusik was one of three recipients of the 2018 Women to Women Giving Circle grants. (Image Credit: Katie Henderson, Music Connections Foundation).

The Women to Women Giving Circle, a division of the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation (IPCF), awarded three annual grants to local programs encouraging the advancement for women, children and girls.

The IPCF advocates for a culture of philanthropy in the Bloomington-Normal area, said IPCF Executive Director Greg Meyer. As a part of the IPCF, the Women-to-Women Giving Circle helps meet the needs of local women and children through the generosity of other local women.

The grants are intended to provide women with the opportunities to further develop their philanthropic leadership skills. This year the grants focused on developing the potential of girls ages zero to five and providing assistance to their support networks. For 2018, the program awarded a total of $25,833, which was split amongst the three recipients.

This year’s Women to Women grant recipients were Kindermusik at the Neville House, Parent Life Skills Training & Support Groups and Trauma Informed Domestic Violence Training Collaboration.

Kindermusik at the Neville House was awarded $3,072 in collaboration with Mid Central Community Action. Kindermusik teaches moms how to implement musical rituals into their daily routines, a practice meant to reduce stress, promote relationship growth and enrich interactions between mothers and their children. The Kindermusik program is provided by the Music Connections Foundation (MCF).

“Every single activity we do has a musical goal we are trying to foster, but it also has a development role,” MFC Founder and Director Katie Henderson said. “I get to work in something that involves my love of music and I get to share love everyday with children and children are the greatest source of love.”

The Kindermusik curriculum includes kits with tools that help teachers guide participants in activities and create bonding relationships while having fun the whole time, Henderson said. Kindermusik activities include a rhythmic and repeatable formula, which allows children to develop important skills and reach maximum engagement. Most activities also include a story time and instrumental play.   

A second grant of $11,261 went to The Parent Life Skills Training & Support Group, a collaborative effort between the YWCA of McLean County, Project Oz and Marcfirst.

The Parent Life Skills Training & Support Groups is a three-part program. The first part will be championed by Project Oz and focuses on young people who are homeless, pregnant or parenting, and transitioning to self-sufficient living.

The second part, implemented by Marcfirst, is geared toward supporting parents and children with special needs. The third part will offer courses in infant massage through the YWCA, said Liz German, Vice President of Operations at the YWCA of McLean County.

The YWCA of McLean County has received grant money from the IPCF before, but a key component to this grant was collaboration. Many participants in these types of programs lack access to transportation or adequate facilities, German said. The YWCA of McLean County will provide both the transportation and facilities for Project Oz and Marcfirst to effectively run their program.

“We do have a lot of programs in McLean County. We have a lot of resources for people, but can they get where they need to go?” German said. “There are a lot of great things that are going on in McLean County and if we can improve access by eliminating barriers and obstacles then people will take advantage of it.”

The final grant recipient was the Children’s Home + Aid in collaboration with Mid Central Community Action. They were awarded $11,500 for their program, Trauma Informed Domestic Violence Training Collaboration. The program will provide staff training on domestic violence issues tailored toward families with young children. The program will also train judges and attorneys on the effects of childhood exposure to domestic violence.  

The Women to Women Giving Circle continues to grow and influence philanthropic work in the Bloomington-Normal area. The program has awarded a total of $245,000 in grant money since its inception in 2011 and the resources continue to increase every year.

To get involved with the Women to Women Giving Circle, visit the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation website.