Ann Arbor Family teamed up with The Generosity Project this past Holiday season to allocate funds to local organizations submitted by readers to be considered in The Generosity Projects “Cash for Your Cause” competition. We then worked alongside National Honors Society groups from Salinel, Skyline and Pioneer High Schools to bring to a vote the best of projects that the students believed would put the cash to best use. Check out the winning organizations here:
First Place: $6000
Washtenaw Area Council for Children
The Washtenaw Area Council for Children is a local nonprofit that works to end child abuse and neglect through educational programs for children and parents in Washtenaw County. One of the programs is Safe Sleep, a free program for expecting/ new parents. The program teaches safe sleeping practices, addresses pediatric risk factors, the importance of not sharing a bed with an infant and how breastfeeding can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome among other topics. Upon the completion of the program, those eligible through Medicaid receive a pack-and-play and safe sleep sac free of charge. Washtenaw Area Council for Children will use their winnings to provide the agency with 50 pack-and-plays and sheets, 50 onesies for infants, 50 sleep sacks, and 100 door hangers with safe sleep tips/reminders to distribute to families in need. The organization thanks The Generosity Project for the consideration of helping to promote child safety and well-being through educational services and programs for children, parents, community members and youth-serving professionals throughout Washtenaw County.
Second Place: $4,000
Foundations Preschool of Washtenaw County
Since 1934, Foundations Preschool of Washtenaw County has been providing the highest quality care and education for local children. An important part of the school is ensuring that families have equitable access to early childhood education in a diverse and supportive setting. Close to the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti border and on a local bus line, Foundations Preschool of Washtenaw County caters to the families who need them most.
They serve children ages 6 weeks – 5 years during the school year and increase the age range to 9 over the summer months. At least 90% of their families are from low to extremely low households. They reserve approximately 8% of their spots for families from ALICE households (Asset Limited Income Constrained and Employed). The other 2%, if not taken up by the low-income and ALICE families, can be used for those without income constraints.
Child care and preschool is expensive. When a parent is struggling to make ends meet just to house and feed their family, adding the cost of childcare may be impossible and keep a parent from being able to work/go to school, thus impeding their road to self-sufficiency.
At Foundations Preschool, they provide in-house scholarships that can be paired with outside resources to create the most affordable tuition rates in Washtenaw County. By attending Foundations Preschool, children not only receive the care and education they deserve, but they and their families also receive access to vital support services which include (but not limited to):
– free meals and snacks during attendance and food pantry items for home;
– support from a licensed social worker;
– family emergency support (clothing, referrals, food, etc.)
– parent networking opportunities.
This school year children have lowered immune systems caused by limited exposure during the past 2.5 years (for some, that is their entire life). Foundations Preschool of Washtenaw County’s illness policy is very strict to protect all children and staff. When a child is required to stay home from childcare, most parents cannot work. The parents of the school’s students are generally not employed where they have paid time off. Missing pay and still having to come up with tuition – even at reduced rates – is an extreme hardship.
Foundations Preschool of Washtenaw County will be using their funding from The Generosity Project to help the families who miss work due to a child’s illness by providing extra tuition support to offset the loss of income. With this money, they will help their families get through the long winter/spring months full of illness and work loss without the added worry of disastrous financial consequences.
Third Place: $2,000
Ele’s Place Ann Arbor has been awarded $2,000 for the creation of Grief Toolkits for Schools, which will be distributed to 20 area schools in Washtenaw County in order to help meet the needs of local schools in supporting grieving children. One in 11 children in Michigan will experience the death of a parent or sibling by age 18. Grieving children need access to a supportive environment and compassionate programming. Ele’s Place Ann Arbor envisions that no child grieves alone.
They currently do not have the capacity to extend their school-based programming to all area schools for in-school bereavement support, but there remains a high need for information and resources for school counselors and social workers to help support the unique needs of grieving children and teens, particularly with regard to recent losses during the pandemic. The need for in-school support for mental healthcare is rising, and Ele’s Place equips school counselors and social workers to address the increased need for bereavement support in our community.
Grief Toolkits for Schools are composed of tote bags filled with books (for both counselors and children), games, activities and resources to equip elementary school counselors and social workers to provide children and teens with the support they need. The program staff hand-select the best resources for educators and elementary students. The toolkits are delivered to local schools at no charge, along with contact information for referrals and support. Over time, items in the Grief Toolkits may need to be replaced or refreshed, providing yet another touchpoint for the bereavement staff with local school counselors.
Grief Toolkits for Schools allow Ele’s Place Ann Arbor to support local schools in their support of children and families, extending our reach beyond the programming offered in their building and in middle and high schools. Meeting families where they are – through equipping local school counselors with the tools and information they need to best support the mental health of grieving children – ensures that no child grieves alone, and that necessary services and opportunities to allow children to thrive are available within local schools. Ele’s Place began this project last fall, and had amazing turnout and feedback once schools became aware of it. The response was so robust, they had to start a waiting list! Ele’s Place is excited to have funding available to create more toolkits for local schools.