Community foundation awards grants for projects positively impacting Chatfield

SUBMITTED PHOTO The Chosen Valley Community Foundation presents a check to the Chatfield Center for the Arts (CCA). From left are, Holly Martinka from the foundation, Carla Gallina from the CCA board and CCA Director Jenni Petersen-Brant.
By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Chatfield News

Community: Something that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“Overall, we awarded $3,822 in grants for our fall grant cycle,” stated Chosen Valley Community Foundation (CVCF) President Julie Fryer.

She listed the CVCF grants that were awarded this past January, following fall applications for the grants.

“The individual grants are to the veterans home in Preston – they also received the matching grant being offered by the state, the Chatfield Center for the Arts for the expansion of Wi-fi access in the facility, to Early Childhood Family Education to purchase books and workbooks for parent classes, to Chatfield Elementary School to purchase Botley robots to teach coding, and to the Chatfield Community Preschool to purchase 50 books for the Action 100 program,” Fryer continued. “All but the veterans home and the CCA grant fell within our small grants criteria. Each of these programs or grant requests will have a broad and long-lasting impact on our community.”

The foundation received the applications in early fall 2018 and from there, they were reviewed by a committee, which made a recommendation to the entire foundation board at its November meeting. From there, the board approved the recommendations.

“We’re very lucky because we receive such great applications – the biggest challenge is we just do not have enough grant dollars to fund everything,” Fryer added.

During its 19 years, the foundation has funded a broad range of programs, including music programs, the bandshell improvements, parks and rec programs, the city park renovation, educational programs for all ages — from preschool to high school — such as community education programs, STEM projects like the Rube Goldberg startup funds, programs for senior citizens, including HON and technology for the care center, and so much more.

Fryer said, “In general, we are willing to look at any proposed project. Things we look for are service to a broad audience – either one-time, such as a special program, or for years and years, such as the park project.”

She also noted grants can be given to programs that have other sources of funding or that are sustainable. As an example, the foundation may fund the purchase of books for an existing educational program or provide one-time funding for support materials.

“Anything that makes Chatfield a better place to live for everyone,” Fryer added. “We love helping the schools out, but our grants are available to any group in town. We understand these groups are the backbone of our town and their access to funding is limited and time-consuming to track down. We want to partner with them so they can achieve their goals, which, in turn, help our entire community.”

The community foundation does have a limited amount to award each year, so Fryer noted the board can’t always pick every project.

“But it’s rewarding to know that we’re able to leverage the donations we receive to help the community,” she said. “It’s also fun to see the projects come to life and hear back from the grantees. We hear back from each group, and many times they send fun photos and thank yous after their projects have been completed.”

Fryer noted that while the CVCF primarily administers grants, it has other functions that meet Chatfield’s needs. “We are also not here just to hand out money. If organizations in town need help putting together a project, finding non-financial resources or just need advice, we can help them, and we encourage folks to reach out to us with ideas and questions. And in addition to our yearly grant cycle, we help administer multiple scholarship funds, work with the community to put together Chill Fest, and participate when we can in other community events such as Western Days.”

She observed that all of CVCF’s activities are made possible through the community’s generosity. “Everything we do is funded by donations. There are lots of avenues through which we can receive donations – employer-based giving or automatic withdrawals, through endowments, estates or trusts, through yearly events such as Give to the Max Day, or individual gifts through one-time donations of cash, stocks or bonds.”

She said the community foundation is a 501(C)3 non-profit and donated funds are managed through the Rochester Area Foundation.

“We invest and allocate these monies with the goal of having a perpetual fund to support programs long into the future,” she said. “Every donation stays in our community and helps our own neighbors. We also have very low administrative expenses. Our community is super generous, and we’ve found that when we ask, people always step up!”

Fryer reiterated, “We’d really like people to know that we will review any type of grant if it meets our criteria – it does not have to be education-related. Applications need to be submitted in October, and that’s the only yearly chance, so we encourage folks to reach out to us with questions and start thinking early about community projects. Applications and criteria will be posted in late summer so people can review them.”

Fryer continued, “We are all Chatfield folks and our board is made up of all volunteers. We are here to help! Not only with money, but with support and resources for projects. We can also work with donors to set up designated funds – such as a scholarship – and we’re happy to help donors navigate through setting up endowments or estate giving.”

She urged potential donors to contact her at with any questions. Or, she noted, donations can be sent to the CVCF treasurer, Chuck Johnson, at Root River State Bank.

She added, “We are also building our new website, and it should be done within the next couple of months. We’ll have a much more user-friendly platform where people can make donations, sign up for our newsletter or apply for grants. We also have a Facebook page, which is a great place to find the latest news — @ChosenValleyCommunityFoundation. Look for info on that and let us know if you’d like to get onto our email newsletter list.”

With CVCF having lent its assistance to so many projects, Fryer can’t answer one specific question. “I really don’t have a favorite! We mostly love seeing the grants come to life, and I know every time I see something in the community which I know we helped with, I smile,” she said.