Grants to help fund literacy, lead programs

A series of philanthropic grants will help fund a variety of city endeavors later this year.

The Community Foundation of Marshall County has selected four city programs as the recipients of its grant awards and is co-sponsoring another with the Martha Ellen Tye Foundation.

Michelle Spohnheimer, Housing and Community Development director, brought the items before the Marshalltown City Council Monday night at its Committee of the Whole meeting.

The grants would provide $2,000 for the city’s lead hazard control program, $2,500 for its police student academy, $1,500 for K-9 education and training and another $2,500 to go to help support Camp Marshalltown.

Spohnheimer said the Housing Department is still looking for families to take part in the lead hazard program and that the money will help cover general maintenance and expenses associated with relocating people whose houses the programs aims to abate.

“We have a lot of wear and tear of household items being that there are so many people coming and going,” she said.

Bettie Bolar, development consultant at the Community Foundation of Marshall County, said the foundation likes to support projects that have momentum and are bound to succeed, like the MPD’s K-9 fundraiser.

This year, she said the committee that selects the grant winners had an emphasis on literacy and education.

“We wanted to be synergistic with the All-America City award,” she said.

Bolar is also the chair of the summer learning loss task force for the third grade reading initiative.

Martha Ellen Tye Foundation is also pitching in to help sponsor the other grant, which will provide another $2,000 to the Marshalltown Police Department’s K-9 unit project.

Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper said the MPD will put the grant money to good use. Programs like the police student academy rely on grant money and donations, he said; without such money, those programs wouldn’t exist.

Capt. Chris Jones, with the MPD, said the student academy aims to teach leadership skills to at-risk students at Miller Middle School over the summer.

“We were looking for new and innovative programs that involved youth,” Jones said.

Other programs funded by the grant also focus on education.

Terry Gray, Parks and Recreation director, said public-private partnerships help programs like Camp Marshalltown, a camp for special needs children, grow. Grants like the one from the Community Foundation raise the staff-to-student ratio, and the more that ratio grows, the better the camp will be.

“We want these kids to go and do everything like every other kid,” Gray said. “We are always looking for ways to make our programs better.”

Gray said the program plays into the third grade reading campaign because it helps stave off summer learning loss.

The grants’ acceptance will appear on the City Council’s consent agenda at its upcoming meeting.