MONTGOMERY—On Wednesday, Sept. 3, Common Ground Montgomery (CGM) was presented a $50,000 check from the Central Alabama Community Foundation (CACF) at their campus in the Greater Washington Park neighborhood (1516 Mobile Road in Montgomery). This CACF “Curbing the Violence” Focus Grant supports the program’s effort to help reduce violence in the area by identifying the root causes and tackling risk factors such truancy, lack of a high school completion, and positive role models for at-risk youth.
CACF’s distribution committee chose CGM as a recipient for their already successful mentoring work. The funding will allow CGM to hire a Mentor Coordinator for their Mentor Program. The coordinator will recruit mentors, provide intensive training, track the overall well-being (educational and behavioral) of the matched youth, and evaluate the success of the program. This funding will also support the marketing efforts needed to recruit mentors.
Pike Road resident Jeff Welch sums up his experience with the Mentor Program: “My wife and I made the decision to become a mentor a few years ago with hopes of walking with and supporting a young man through the challenges of his neighborhood and the lack of a father figure in his home. We had no idea what to expect but decided that we would fully share our home, our family and our faith with him by including him in all of our family activities such as sporting events, church, vacations, holiday meals, etc. He is now like a son to my wife and I and a big brother to our children. We feel so blessed to include him as part of our family.”
In addition to supporting the mentoring program, this grant money will also support CGM’s After School Program with support from other community partners and grants. CGM will construct new classrooms on their campus in order to serve more youth in the neighborhood.
“By expanding our program, we are not only promoting academic success and providing a safe haven of love and grace, but we are also developing meaningful relationships with the children and parents in the neighborhood,” said Bryan Kelly, CGM Founder and Executive Director.
Kiwanis Club of Montgomery has also awarded CGM a grant of $25,000 for the expansion of classrooms. Plans are to build 4-6 new classrooms, finish out a “theater” space, and help supply some of the technology and furniture for the classrooms. House to House at Washington Park and Hands on River Region will recruit volunteer labor to save on costs of construction and other vendors will donate air-conditioning, flooring, sheetrock, paint, and electrical supplies and labor.
Finally, a portion of the $50,000 will support CGM’s Middle and High School initiative to train
students for after-school and summer training opportunities, offset travel, and program expenses.
“The CACF grant allows us to implement and deepen a strategy that will help change the trajectory of the lives of at-risk youth in our community. We can now provide the leadership to recruit, train, and nurture long-term mentors for kids in our community and help build the classroom and learning space that we will use to develop the kids in our after school program. We will further provide a daily safe-haven for kids to come off the streets and be invested in, but also the relationships necessary to drastically change the odds for good for many urban kids.” - Bryan Kelly, CGM Founder and Executive Director