United Way gives $1.4 million in grants to Whatcom County programs



Paloma Perez, 7, left, Cassie Cohen, 5, and Janie Nevills, 8, eat lunch outside the Kentucky Street Boys and Girls Club Friday, July 12, 2013, in Bellingham.


Reading help for Whatcom County adults, food for kids and support for victims of domestic violence are just a few of the projects that will be getting a portion of about $1.4 million in grants from United Way.

United Way of Whatcom County has announced 42 local nonprofits and programs that will receive grants from the organization this year, with much of that money coming from the fall pledge campaign.

The focus for grants this year was on programs that benefit people's education, health and income.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County traditionally has received grants for its Academic Success program, but this year it's also getting $27,500 for its Healthy Lifestyles program. The program teaches kids how to cope with changes in their lives at various ages and gives them after-school snacks and meals so they've got fuel to do their schoolwork.

"They come to the club at 3 or 3:30 and it's been hours since they've had lunch, and their little tummies are hungry," said Christine Destry, development director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County. "You give a kid a banana, and voila, he's far more likely to pay attention and less likely to be rude or inattentive when he's working or playing a game."

Also benefiting from this year's round of grants is the Whatcom Literacy Council, which got a boost in funding with $30,000 for its free literacy tutoring for adults in Whatcom County.

"They have some pretty amazing outcomes for helping individuals attain skills they need to get better jobs and maintain stability," said Tamara Tregoning, United Way's director of resource development. "We really all benefit from individuals learning that skill."

Other groups getting grants from United Way this year include the Mount Baker Chapter of the American Red Cross, the YMCA and Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services.

For more information about United Way of Whatcom County, go online to unitedwaywhatcom.org.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com. Read her School Days blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/schools or follow her on Twitter at @bhamschools.

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