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Drury among partners selected for $1.3 million Northwest Project grant

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks announced today that a five-year grant for up to $1.3 million to address poverty in northwest Springfield will be awarded to a partnership led by Missouri State University, the Drew Lewis Foundation and Drury University.

The partnership was selected by a volunteer grant committee through a competitive process that began last fall. Major funding for the grant is being provided by the CFO, the Stanley and Elaine Ball Foundation managed by Central Trust and The Musgrave Foundation.

The goal of The Northwest Project is to pilot strategies over a five-year period to help families overcome the challenges that have kept them living in poverty and sustain their long-term success in emerging from those circumstances. The MSU/Drew Lewis/Drury partnership was selected for its vision of using a model that couples family support with neighborhood development and sustainability. This community-driven development model will work to bridge the gaps between people and resources through both case management services and a teamwork approach where program participants will be expected to support each other.

A strong consideration in awarding the grant is the proposed comprehensive evaluation process, which will be coordinated jointly by MSU’s Center for Community Engagement and Drury’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership. In addition, Drury’s Community Outreach and Leadership Development Office will manage a centralized, online volunteer service to coordinate participant needs and reduce overlap of services.

The CFO encouraged grant applicants to consider a model used in Jacksonville, Florida’s “1,000 in 1,000” project, which has demonstrated success in reducing poverty by emphasizing “pivotal assets” that boost families’ opportunities for success. Examples of these include financial literacy, parenting skills, reliable transportation, affordable housing, quality childcare and others.

The MSU/Drew Lewis/Drury partnership also includes a number of community agencies that will provide resources related to these pivotal assets. These partners are: Ozarks Technical Community College, MU Extension, the City of Springfield, Consumer Credit Counseling, Springfield Community Gardens, Springfield Public Schools, Life 360 Family Services, Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Club, Great Circle-Parenting Life Skills Center, Hand in Hand Multicultural Center, Care to Learn, Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, Ozarks Regional YMCA and Schweitzer United Methodist Church Jobs for Life Program.

The first step for The Northwest Project will be informational meetings this spring to recruit and evaluate the first group of eligible families. For more information about the background of The Northwest Project, visit: www.cfozarks.org/northwest.

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