John’s Island Community Service League awards $1.4 million


The John’s Island Community Service League announced last week that its members have raised and awarded more than $1.4 million in grants and scholarships this year.

The announcement closely followed the announcement of the John’s Island Foundation awarding $1.1 million in grants.

The two fundraising groups differ in their fundraising approaches and the types of grants they make, but each is a testament to the philanthropic generosity of John’s Island residents.

The Community Service League funded its banner year through a fall solicitation letter, a series of fundraising events, sponsorships and their highly lucrative Tambourine Shop, while the foundation derives its funding primarily from a annual appeal letter. League grants support agency operating and program expenses, while foundation grants fund capital expenditures.

Ellen Kendall, the league’s grants co-chair, revealed she awarded a total of $1,463,000 in grants and scholarships this year.

Breaking it down, she said the total included $1,186,000 in normal cycle grants to local agencies, an increase of nearly $70,000 from last year. Additionally, the league provided $55,000 in college and professional scholarships to John’s Island employees and their children.

Another $222,000 in grants was funded by the Marlynn Scully Strategic Fund.

Hope Woodhouse, chair of the strategic grants committee, said it was created when Marlynn and Bill Scully offered $500,000 in seed money. Its goal, she said, is to enable off-cycle grants, increase funding for existing high-quality programs, fund new startups that are best practices in other communities, and help agencies to try out new businesses.

“A lot of big programs were started with this,” Woodhouse said.

Among them is a Healthy Start Coalition Doula program, where non-medical professionals assist mothers and families before, during and after birth. Another is the Tykes and Teens ALTOSS (Alternative to Out of School Suspension) program, which provides a structured education for suspended middle and high school students so that they are not left behind academically.

This year, she said, Marlynn Scully Strategic Funds provided:

  • $50,000 for the second year of a three-year grant for an intensive outpatient mental health program for adolescents 13-17 years old.
  • $50,000 for a new education program at United Against Poverty.
  • Final payment of $37,500 for the HEART program to assist with pandemic-related evictions and foreclosures.
  • $65,000 to fund research and implementation of free, quality legal services in Indian River County.
  • $13,500 to help the school district pay for the implementation and training of teachers on a new algebra curriculum.
  • $6,000 to Miss B’s Learning Bees.

“We’re constantly on the lookout for great ideas and programs,” Woodhouse said. “We want our quality agencies to introduce new programs to fill gaps in the community.”

Continuing the league’s concerted efforts to address the critical need for mental health initiatives in the county, Kendall said this year’s regular grants included $190,000 for mental health programs.

These grants included three mental health agencies that they had not previously funded: Whole Family Health, for mental health programs for children and families; the Mental Health Collaborative for the McCabe Connection Center; and Suncoast Mental Health Center for behavior and mental health services.

Also new this year is Ballet Vero Beach, for its education and engagement program, which partners with the school district. BVB dancers and staff visit elementary school classrooms and connect with children through dancing and reading stories about the ballets. Kendall explained that while they don’t usually fund arts programs, they added it because of the child literacy aspect.

The two largest categories, children’s education/after school (12 programs) and adult health and well-being (eight programs), each received approximately 23% of the funding.

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