United Way Organizes Lunches for Food-Insecure Children during Spring Break

During the week of Spring Break, March 15-20, the United Way of Franklin County Association organized free lunches for children who may not have had any other resources for food during the week off school. With more than 50% of USD 290 students enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program, it was vital to ensure these students had access to food over the Spring Break. Ottawa Strong Blessing Box took the lead and volunteered to provide lunches on Monday, Faith Lutheran followed with lunches on Tuesday, Wednesday’s lunches were provided by Grace Community Fellowship, Thursday’s lunches were delivered by Hope Anthem, Friday’s lunches came from Life Mission, and the final lunches on Saturday were assembled and delivered by the Rambling Ranchers 4-H Club. The UW set up for the lunches to be given out at the Carnegie Building from 11 am-1 pm each of those days and made sure volunteers were available to distribute them. American Eagle Outfitters Distribution Center provided hot chocolate for everyone as well as frisbees. Due to inclement weather, the turnout was low on most days, but leftover lunches were taken to first-responders, senior housing centers, and Harvesters volunteers. Thank you to all our volunteers (more than 70 for lunch assembly, delivery, and distribution!) and supporting donors to the cause.

After School Program Funded With $15,000 Grant

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Kansas Volunteer Commission,

volunteer agencies build capacity in Kansas

Funds provided through Volunteer Generation Fund used to support Kansas volunteerism

TOPEKA, KS — The Kansas Volunteer Commission has awarded $120,000 in funding to eight Kansas volunteer and mentor organizations through the 2021 Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) grant competition.

Each organization received $15,000 for one year. 

The VGF grant will increase the infrastructure and expand the capacity of volunteer and mentoring organizations as they work with volunteers to improve their communities. 

The Commission received the VGF grant from AmeriCorps, the federal agency that oversees the nation’s volunteer initiatives. AmeriCorps awarded 22 VGF grants to state service commissions, including the Kansas Volunteer Commission, totaling more than $6 million.

2021 Volunteer Generation Fund Grant recipients are:

  • Douglas County CASA Inc. – Serving Douglas County.
  • Flint Hills Volunteer Center – Serving Geary, Pottawatomie and Riley counties.
  • Heart of a Champion/One Heart Project – Serving Northeast Kansas.
  • Kansas Humane Society – Serving Sedgwick County and supporting shelters statewide.
  • Peace Connections Inc. – Serving Harvey County.
  • Rosedale Development Association – Serving Wyandotte County.
  • United Way of Douglas County – Serving Douglas County.
  • United Way of Franklin County Association – Serving Anderson and Franklin counties.

The successes of former VGF grant recipients will create a model for the new subgrantees to follow. In 2019, the Kansas Volunteer Commission awarded nearly $100,000 in funding to six Kansas volunteer organizations. The 2019 Volunteer Generation Fund Grant recipients were Barton County College Volunteers in Action; Flint Hills Volunteer Center; Kansas Humane Society; Sunflower CASA Project Inc.; United Way of Franklin County Association; and Wichita Habitat for Humanity.

The goal of that grant was to increase the infrastructure and expand the capacity of volunteer organizations to recruit and manage skilled volunteers. Together, these programs engaged 5,773 volunteers who leveraged 45,860 volunteer hours. According to the Independent Sector, a volunteer hour is currently valued at $27.20. Therefore, volunteers leveraged through the VGF grant provided an estimated value of $1,247,392.00 in service in Kansas between Oct. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2020. 

VGF’s unique model means that the grants announced will leverage additional public and private funds – further increasing the return on the federal investment. The Commission anticipates that the 2021 grants will leverage an additional $120,000.

“The Kansas Volunteer Commission is proud to support the VGF recipients with funding, training and technical assistance that has been proven to increase capacity,” said Jessica Noble, Kansas Volunteer Commission executive director. 

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The Kansas Volunteer Commission is a program of the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). The mission of the Kansas Volunteer Commission is to empower all Kansans to meet community needs through service. The Commission’s primary role is to provide resources and leadership to support local initiatives that tackle community needs. As the state service commission, the KVC directs effective national service programs, provides volunteer management training opportunities and supports the work of Mentor Kansas. For more information, visit http://www.kanserve.org.

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Kansas Volunteer Commission
Landon State Office Building
900 S.W. Jackson St., Suite 105
Topeka, KS 66612

S.T.E.A.M. After School Mentoring/Tutoring Program In Full Swing!

We have nearly a full quarter of our program behind our backs, and we are looking forward to finishing the semester even stronger! We have 9 children enrolled in our program with room for 21 more elementary children! We had four high school mentors, but lost them due to spring sports, so we are hoping to recruit more teens. We currently have 6 adult mentors from various career fields, but need 14 more if we get 21 more elementary students! Right now, the ratio is nice, but we need to grow mentors and high school mentors/mentees with any new enrollments.

We were awarded another $2,500 Kansas Volunteer Commission mini-grant for our mentoring program to cover background checks for 30 mentors age 18 and older, mentor training materials, S.T.E.A.M. curriculum, and end of program closure parties. The Kansas Volunteer Commission is committed to training its sub grantees in best practices for mentoring, so the director, Leigh Hanson, will be attending six sessions of training sponsored by Mentor Kansas. We are building a “gold-star mentoring program” in Kansas that will be recognized for all the benchmarks of quality mentoring.

We hope to share our best practices in mentoring with our Community Partners as we have just put out a new community grant for them to establish their own programs featuring volunteer mentors that will help our clients get back on their feet to live healthy, educated, economically stable lives.

You can be a part of this positive community change. Be a volunteer. Be a donor. Spread the word; spread the hope.