United Way of South Mississippi awarded 11 community impact grants during a presentation ceremony at the Knight Nonprofit Center in Gulfport on Wednesday, July 24.

The ceremony marked the beginning of UWSM’s 2019-2021 grant cycle. Over the course of the two-year cycle, $650,000 in grant funding will be provided to 11 area nonprofits working in the sectors of education, financial stability, health, and family services and support.

Community impact grant recipients are selected through an extensive application and review process that identifies initiatives with the greatest overall community impact. The grants will directly affect UWSM’s service area of Hancock, Harrison, Pearl River and Stone counties.

The grant recipients and their funded programs include:

  • Boys & Girls Club of the Gulf Coast – Project Learn, which offers educational enhancement programs for economically disadvantaged students in Pre-K through the third grade;
  • CASA of Hancock County – Family Advocacy Collaborative, which provides advocacy services to children with an intentional focus on emotional advocacy;
  • Catholic Charities of South Mississippi, which will provide case management and community outreach services for individuals seeking assistance;
  • Feeding the Gulf Coast – Mobile Pantry Program, which will allow for 30 mobile pantry distributions within the four counties;
  • Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence – Children’s Program, which helps children who have been exposed to violence achieve developmental milestones in school readiness;
  • Hancock County Human Resources Agency – Early Childhood Programs, which provides childcare and early childhood learning services to children of families with low income;
  • Hancock Resource Center – Navigator Program, which works with the Hancock County Youth Court and related agencies to provide case management for families in crisis;
  • Lynn Meadows Discovery Center – SMARTIES, which helps students from low socioeconomic backgrounds develop literacy through STEM education;
  • Manna Ministries – Head & Heart Program, which provides students who struggle with reading in grades 1-3 with additional grade-level reading resources;
  • Moore Community House – Early Head Start Program, which provides early childhood learning services to at-risk children and families;
  • The Nourishing Place – ENHANCE After School Tutoring Program, which offers group tutoring and transportation services to poor or at-risk students.

The grants are made possible through workplace giving campaigns, which generate individual and corporate gifts for UWSM. Hancock Whitney, which raised more than $53,000 as an early pacesetter during the 2018 giving campaign, gifted an additional $50,000 to the final amount of grant funding.

“Hancock Whitney was founded to help people achieve their dreams,” said Hancock Whitney Mississippi President Emory Mayfield. “We’re proud to be a longtime pacesetter company committed to supporting United Way of South Mississippi as they partner with local agencies to enhance programs and services important for people across the region. We’re also honored to contribute to the community impact grant program to help United Way assist local nonprofits in creating opportunities that open more pathways for people to make their dreams real.”

UWSM CEO Kathy Springer said every dollar given matters.

“Generous donations, from the $5 gifts to the $50,000 from Hancock Whitney, make it possible for us to fund these worthy organizations,” said UWSM CEO Kathy Springer. “Every contribution matters, and every dollar given is used wisely.”

Ninety-nine cents of every dollar given to UWSM is reinvested in the community, and the community impact grants are just one of the organization’s touch points with its service area, said Springer.

“On behalf of the United Way of South Mississippi Board of Directors, I congratulate our community impact grant recipients for their tireless efforts to ensure all citizens can experience the caring and quality of life that set our Gulf Coast apart,” said Brent Fairley, UWSM’s 2019-2020 board chair and Hancock Whitney’s Mississippi Gulf Coast market president. “Their efforts demonstrate the community commitment that keeps our region strong and helps make life better for the people who call the Coast home.”

UWSM also provides short-term grants and recently provided six emerging needs grants to help fight homelessness, aid disability services, advocate for children and more. Additionally, UWSM sponsors several education initiatives, including PreK4Ward and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, along with services for health and financial stability.