In one afternoon, a 21-person panel from the Idaho Community Foundation
decided the fate of almost $212,000 to be given to several nonprofits in the lower half of the state. Of 211 nonprofits around southwestern and central Idaho that applied for the grant money, 111 were selected.
"[The panel] discusses each and every one of the applications," said Jennifer Oxley, communication director for the ICF. "There's never enough money to go around for everybody, so sometimes the rest of the panel will be unsure if something is necessary, but a panel member can step forward and do what we call a passionate plea, asking the panel to reconsider. It's a very cool process to watch."
The volunteer panel
—made up of community leaders, business owners and educators representing each county in the lower half of the state—divvied the money up between more than 100 nonprofits from Ada, Adams, Blaine, Boise, Camas, Canyon, Cassia, Elmore, Gem, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, Owyhee, Payette, Twin Falls, Valley and Washington counties.
In Ada County specifically, grants ranged from $500 to $3,000—with the money awarded to the Women's and Children's Alliance, the Log Cabin Literary Center, the Boise Philharmonic Association, the Idaho Humane Society, the Meridian Food Bank, the Discovery Center, the city of Kuna, and 30 other nonprofits in the Treasure Valley.
"One of the things that's really cool about our grants is, we fund things that other foundations don't fund, like operating costs and small projects," Oxley told Boise Weekly.
None of the grants top $5,000.
According to a news release, the grants fund projects like the completion of a new behind-the-scenes animal breeding facility for the Idaho Zoological Society ($1,000), or $1,000 towards providing services, comfort and temporary shelter for victims of house fires or wildfires for the American Red Cross of Greater Idaho.
The largest grant recipients were the Children's Free Dental Clinic—$3,000 to purchase dental supplies for patient wellness kits, education pamphlets, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and cavity-preventing fluoride varnish—and the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society— $3,000 to help replace the handicapped accessible van that transports seniors and disabled adults that reside at the Good Samaritan Society's Boise Village.
Oxley said many of the same nonprofits apply and receive funding from this grant every year. The grant cycle for the northern region of the state opened at the beginning of the month and applications are due by January 15, 2015.
The panels look for projects that help a broad segment of the community, "especially those citizens whose needs are not being met by existing services that are normally expected to be provided by private rather than government sources," according to Oxley.
According to the Idaho Nonprofit Center
, the state has 4,600 charitable nonprofits.