In 2020, Spiral Giving received 36 grant applications. The students raised enough funds to award 14 grants of $750 each. However, COVID-19 began to have a profound effect on Westchester County. Some grant applications were no longer relevant, while needs in other areas arose quickly and dramatically. Students decided to modify the grant awarding process to focus on a more critical and immediate need – food insecurity. One large $10,000 grant was awarded to Feeding Westchester, and one $750 grant was awarded to Campus Bound Scholars through the standard grant awarding process. All grant applicants have been invited to reapply next year and will have the opportunity to modify their request if needs have changed. In addition, Spiral Giving students volunteered in other ways to help their neighbors:
Feeding Westchester – Food Insecurity
Feeding Westchester is the largest food bank in the county, and has been tasked with coordinating distribution efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Requests from food banks have increased substantially, as schools closed and unemployment numbers grew. March brought a 77% increase in demand from a year ago, with 1.4 million pounds of food distributed throughout the county. In April, that number grew to 2 million. This demand is unprecedented, and Feeding Westchester desperately needed donations to purchase food in bulk and readjust distribution methods to keep both residents and volunteers safe. Spiral Giving students all agreed that right now our money would best be used by supporting this effort.
Campus Bound Scholars – Emergency Funds For College Students
Campus Bound Scholars is dedicated to supporting first generation students to achieve success in college. CBS requested money for their emergency fund, which supplies students in need with money for items they would otherwise not be able to afford, such as a bus ticket home, unexpected medical costs, and other unforeseen expenses. The outbreak of COVID-19 caused college campuses across the country to shut their doors and transition to online learning. Students were left with much uncertainty. Many Weschester students would be returning home to the epicenter of the outbreak. Is it safe to return home? How will they get home? Where will the store there belongings if the dorms close? What about their on-campus jobs? How will they pay for internet access when the libraries are closed and jobs are lost? The Campus Bound Scholar Emergency Fund has fielded more requests than ever before. Spiral Giving students felt strongly about helping.
Tutoring Services – Educational Support for Low-Income Students
Spiral Giving students volunteered to support their neighbors as schools were closed and teachers transitioned to on-line learning. Many children were struggling to keep up in their classes with limited access to teachers. Spiral Giving students have dedicated many hours to one-on-one tutoring for students that needed additional support. Not only did they volunteer their time, but they recruited friends to join in the effort as well.
In 2019, Spiral Giving received 19 grant applications. The students raised enough funds to award 6 grants of $750 each:
ANDRUS – Audio Devices For Struggling Readers
ANDRUS specializes in teaching children and families the skills needed to cope with strong emotions in order to help secure stability, resilience and ultimately a promising future. Through the Orchard School, they support and educate emotionally troubled children. The grant money will be used to purchase audio devices and books for the school library to assist struggling readers.
Emergency Shelter Partnership – Towel Laundering Service
The Emergency Shelter Partnership is comprised of many local congregations that together provide shelter for the homeless during the harsh winter months. This nondenominational organization will provide anyone in need with a hot meal and a warm place to sleep. The grant money awarded will be used for clean towel service for the residents to use when showering.
Hudson Link For Higher Education In Prison – Textbooks For Prisoners
Hudson Link was formed to bring college classes to incarcerated men and women in New York State correctional facilities. They provide education, life skills and re-entry support resulting in lower rates of recidivism. The grant money received will be used to purchase textbooks for two college level courses.
Latino U College Access – College Knowledge Summer Program
Latino U provides college access and guidance to low-income Latino youth who will be the first in their family to attend college. The College Knowledge summer program will introduce high school students to the college admissions process and assist them in writing essays for their applications. Grant funds will be used to purchase supplies for the 40 participating students.
My Sister’s Place – Client Support Fund
My Sister’s Place strives to end domestic violence and human trafficking, while providing direct services to those in need. These services may include shelter, counseling, and legal advice. Their Client Support Fund, which will benefit from the Spiral Giving grant, assists clients with day-to-day challenges such as making purchases for children, themselves or their housing, driving lessons and transportation, preparation for job searches and any other daily needs.
Renaissance Youth Center – Educational Assessment Kits
The Renaissance Youth Center provides education, music and sports programs for at risk inner-city children. RYC is in the process of expanding tutoring and academic programs offered on the weekends. A grant from Spiral Giving will allow them to purchase assessment tool kits for both literacy and math. These tool kits will provide detailed information on each student that will be used when customizing the tutoring program to better meet the needs of each individual.
In 2018, Spiral Giving received 18 grant applications. The students opted to raise the dollar amount for each grant and raised enough funds to award 7 grants of $750 each:
(914) Cares – Basic Childcare Needs
(914) Cares, formerly known as Chappaqua Cares, strives to help families in need throughout Westchester. They are often asked for assistance with supplies for children. The most requested items include diapers, undergarments, socks and shoes. Grant money will be used to purchase these items in bulk so they can be distributed on an as-needed basis to families referred to the organization by government agencies, schools and doctors.
A Kids Brain Tumor Cure – One Week at Camp Sunshine
Camp Sunshine focuses on enabling families of a child battling a pediatric brain tumor to enjoy a typical overnight camp experience in Maine. In addition to recreational activities, Camp Sunshine offers workshops that are tailored to the needs of these families. The grant awarded to A Kids Brain Tumor Cure will allow one family to attend camp for a week of activities, workshops and discussions.
Feeding Westchester – 1,700 Meals
Feeding Westchester (formerly known as The Food Bank for Westchester) believes that access to healthy food is a basic right for all people. The funds received will be used for their core distribution program, and they will be able to provide approximately 1,700 meals for residents in need.
JCCA Cottage School – MP3 Players and Music
The Cottage School is a residential treatment facility that houses over 200 children with emotional instability. Many come from challenging family circumstances and have suffered from abuse. Each child develops a “safety plan” which they use to calm themselves when necessary. Often music is part of this plan, as music is therapeutic. By purchasing MP3 players, children will be able to download music that is meaningful and helpful to them and have it available as part of their individualized plan.
Lifting Up Westchester – Educational Enrichment
Lifting Up Westchester’s Brighter Futures Program is a free, after school enrichment program currently serving 240 youth who are homeless or very low income. The program provides homework help, tutoring and college prep assistance with the goal of overcoming the barriers that often prevent these children from graduating high school. Grant money from Spiral Giving will be used to help defray the cost of tutors.
Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry – Milk and Eggs
The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry is dedicated to providing weekly, supplemental food and related services to underserved residents of Northern Westchester. This grant will provide shelf stable milk and eggs to each of the 275 families that visit the food pantry each week.
Teatown Lake Reservation – Teatown Environmental Science Academy (TESA)
Teatown’s mission is to inspire the community towards lifelong environmental stewardship. The TESA program is a field-based environmental research program for high school students. The grant money will be used to purchase several laptops that these students can use for their summer research and throughout the school year.
In 2017, Spiral Giving received 11 grant applications. The students raised enough funds to award 6 grants of $500 each:
Blythdale Children’s Hospital – Parent Transportation Program
Blythdale Children’s Hospital serves many low-income families, with over 70% of their patients enrolled in Medicaid. Many families are living at or below the poverty level. This grant is to support the Parent Transportation Program, which assists these families in visiting their children in the hospital. The availability of transportation allows families to be together and assists in the healing process.
Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation (CELF) – Westchester Walk for Water
CELF strives to make sustainability education part of every school curriculum. This organization requested seed money to fund a walk-a-thon they are planning for Spring of 2018 The walk-a-thon has several goals: to educate students on the importance of both local and global water issues; to allow middle and high school students to collaborate and execute a fundraising event; and to raise funds to bring freshwater filters to communities and schools where access to fresh water is severely compromised. This grant will allow students to begin organizing the larger project.
Friends of Karen – Quality Of Life For Sick Teenagers
Friends of Karen provides emotional, financial and advocacy support to children facing a life-threatening illness, and their families. Most of the children have cancer and their families are devastated by the disease. This grant will help purchase clothing, wigs, pain-relieving massages or other gifts that will help raise their self-esteem and confidence during cancer treatments.
Hillside Food Outreach – Food Delivery
Hillside Food Outreach delivers groceries to those in need of assistance if they cannot access local food pantries. This grant will be used to purchase food and deliver it to their clients. They will be able to provide food for two weeks to several families.
My Brother Vinny – Bathroom and Kitchen Bins
My Brother Vinny supports US veterans as they transition out of hospitals and shelters and get settled into permanent housing. They help provide furniture and goods to outfit the houses. This grant will be used to provide bathroom and kitchen supplies, such as dishes, utensils, and bath products to several veterans. The bins can then be used for storage.
Open Door Family Medical Centers – Baby Box Project
Open Door provides quality care and human services to the community, particularly low-income and underserved residents lacking access to adequate healthcare. The Baby Box initiative provides new mothers with essential baby basics and needed supplies. The box contains many items, including diapers, clothes, and coupons for wellness classes and post-partum support. The box itself can be converted into a bassinet. The grant will provide 2 complete boxes for new mothers.
In 2016, the inaugural year of our program, Spiral Giving received 8 grant applications. The students raised enough funds to award 3 grants of $500 each:
Boys and Girls Club of Mount Kisco (BGCNW) – GoPro Camera
The Boys and Girls Club of Mount Kisco was seeking funds to purchase audio/visual equipment to be used across many of their programs, including after school programs, summer camps, swimming programs as well as for their staff to use for presentations. Specifically, the Club sought to purchase a GoPro camera for these uses.
Mount Kisco Child Care Center (MKCCC) – Security Walkie-talkies
The MKCCC has several playgrounds spread out amongst their large facility. Walkie-talkies have been identified as an essential component to heightened security. The walkie-talkies would allow for immediate communication between personnel in the event of an emergency.
Ossining Childcare Center (OCC) – Educational Field Trip
OCC was seeking funding for a field trip for their students, many of whom are from low- income families and receive assistance to attend this childcare center. Many of these students have never been to a museum and would not have the opportunity to experience a museum if the childcare center was not able to provide this opportunity. As a result of this grant, 45 young students visited the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the Diana Ross Playground in Central Park.