In 2019, Success Centers was selected by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to disburse grant funds from the city’s Western Addition Community Stabilization Fund. Adrian Owens, our Community Relations Director (pictured), and her staff worked with small, grass roots organizations to identify projects that foster community cohesion. Being a registered nonprofit was not a requirement.
“From the start, we wanted to make sure that these funds got into the hands of those we knew could use the financial support and some guidance to do good,” explains Adrian. To ensure this process would be fair and impartial, we partnered with the Mo Magic Collaborative, which holds bi-monthly convenings of Western Addition community-based organizations of all sizes.
For cycle one in late 2019, we disbursed $10,000. We had $30,000 to disburse in cycle two—and then the pandemic hit. Adrian notes, “Due to the shelter-in-place order we were unable to convene in person. We successfully migrated to an online process. It took a lot of effort because we work with many who are digitally challenged, myself included. But we did it.”
We received ten applications. The initial goal was to grant $5,000 each to the top six applicants. But the group began to discuss how funds could be distributed to all ten. “I am so proud to report that the applicants, with very little input from me, divvied up the funds so that the top six each got $4,000 and the bottom four each got $1,500,” Adrian observes.
“Everybody got something. While the applicants had to make some sacrifices, they all worked together,” says Adrian. “At the end of the process, we realized how strong of a community we truly are.” Currently, Adrian and her staff are helping the grant recipients implement their projects.
Success Centers continues to serve during the quarantine. It has changed the way we work. Adrian concludes, “I haven’t been tied to a desk for more than a year. I’ve always been out in the community, moving from space to space. That hasn’t changed during quarantine. The number of people reaching out to me hasn’t changed; if anything, it has increased. What has changed is that I’ve gotten faster and more focused. Which is good because I can’t afford to slow down or stop.”