Non-profit groups, graduating seniors get major boost

Jan 25, 2023 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

OCCF Board Member Julene Market of the Miller Ferry Line shows off a new honeybee exhibit at the Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center on Put-in-Bay. The educational display was created with the help of a grant from the Ottawa County Community Foundation.

BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN

For a quarter century, the Ottawa County Community Foundation has been generously funding dreams, whether to a vibrant non-profit organization struggling to survive or to a graduating senior hoping to attend his or her dream school. When the late Joy Roth created the foundation in 1999, its mission statement was pure and simple.

Doing Good. Forever.

Heading into 2023, foundation funds having grown to more than $11 million, and the OCCF board members and Executive Director Shea McGrew aren’t sitting pat. They’re looking to do more for the community this year, and for graduating seniors at six Ottawa County high schools.

Last year, the Foundation provided more than $82,000 in grants to 35 local non-profit organizations and more than $152,000 to 121 deserving area students seeking to further their education.

“In this environment and economy, there is a greater need to help those who are struggling,” said OCCF Grants Chair Mary Coffee. “OCCF looks forward to partnering with our county non-profit agencies in 2023 to address this growing need.”

Scholarship Chair Dave Slosser, a member of the Danbury High School staff for almost 50 years, both full-time and part-time, said a big change in scholarship awards has been prompted by some OCCF fund holders who want students entering the skilled trades to be recognized and supported, as well.

“Not all of our seniors are heading to college,” said Slosser. “They’ll be going into a skilled trade, and we want to dedicate funding to help those young men and women find success. That could be apprenticeship programs or unique funding, such as for necessary student tools or supplies.”

Caden and Connor McCarthy, twin brothers from Danbury High School, both received scholarships from the Ottawa County Community Foundation in 2022. They included the Coffin Memorial Scholarship, Doris E. Stamm Scholarship and Blair Scholarship.

It is anticipated more than 125 individual scholarships ranging from $400 to $3,500 will be awarded in 2023. Each scholarship has its own set of requirements established by the fund donor’s wishes.

For both grants for non-profits or for graduating high school men and women, it is important to finish and submit the grant or scholarship applications right away in order to meet the March 1 application deadline. Slosser recommends students work with school guidance counselors at Port Clinton, Danbury, Oak Harbor, Genoa, Woodmore and Put-in-Bay high schools.

Grant and scholarship applicants can download the guidelines and submit forms online or via mail. To download the guidelines and forms, access the OCCF application portal at www.ottawaccf.org/grants, and read “Guidelines for Grant Seekers,” or watch a training video.

“A lot of the grant applicants prefer to go online because it is easier, and that has actually increased our number of applicants to more than 40 or 50 each year,” said Coffee. “Once we receive the application forms, the Grants and Scholarship Committees begin their research and will ultimately contact applicants to get a better feeling about what they are proposing.

“That personal contact gives both grant applicants and the OCCF an advantage in making its decisions by mid-May and sending out invitations to its OCCF Grants Breakfast by June 1,” said Coffee. “We all love the special breakfast, and the warm feelings we all get from being able to help the community.”

With budget and funding cuts more prevalent around Ottawa County right now, Coffee said the non-profit groups really have an increased need for funding. That also means that OCCF needs to generate more donations to fund its generous awards and scholarships.

“There are so many needs the groups are trying to address in our community, and they’re looking to us to help them,” Coffee said.

Questions about applying for OCCF grants or scholarships — or establishing a fund or making a donation — may be directed to 419-635-7750 or ottawaccf@gmail.com. Interested parties may also visit the OCCF office, 306 Madison St., Port Clinton, from noon-3 p.m. on Wednesdays.

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