Thirteen agencies were awarded grants last week from the half-million dollars donated by the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway for charitable community use.
Joe Connor, UG Health Department director, led the committee that made the grants. The UG Commission this year designated that the grants would go toward improving health in the community. The commission gave its final approval to the grants on May 16 after a grant selection committee made its choices on May 3.
The one-year grants were between $10,000 and $50,000 to 13 agencies, with a total of 43 grant applicants, according to the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, which accepted the applications and did an initial screening.
Wendell Maddox, CEO of the United Way of Wyandotte County, one of the grant selection committee members, said the committee used three phases to develop, review and select the grants.
It was a new grant selection process, and some ideas came up at last week’s UG Commission meeting for changes in the process.
Wendell Maddox said the grant selection committee had some recommendations after going through this process. The committee recommended keeping the committee members intact for one year, then in 2014, rolling off half the board, and continuing every following year to roll off half the board. The committee also recommended creating a reporting system about the grants. Also, the committee recommended continuing to meet in working groups to prepare for the next round of grants.
During the commission’s discussion, Commissioner Ann Murguia apologized for the Argentine Neighborhood Development Association submitting an application for a grant, which she said it shouldn’t have done. Murguia is the executive director of ANDA, which applied but did not receive a grant from the casino charitable funds. Murguia said at the time of the application, she was running for mayor and was not running ANDA. She said ANDA would not be applying for the grant in the future.
She said there was much improvement that could be made in the grant selection process. Murguia said that while many organizations were willing to work on issues related to health, some felt there was not enough guidance given on structure and budgets.
She also said there was a need to account for a transparent process; when some committee members had conflicts of interest, they recused themselves. When that happened, an agency lost out in the scoring system that was in place. (For example, instead of appointing an alternate committee member to vote in place of a member who recused himself, there was no vote counted from that member, and so the agency lost a point, putting it behind the other applicants.)
She asked that she and Commissioner Brian McKiernan work on some of the issues to resolve them before the next grant process starts. She said some of the committee members said they weren’t given enough direction from the UG on what it wanted to see funded.
Commissioner Jim Walters said he’d like the panel to tell the commission how it felt about the applications, and how the process could be improved. The grants seemed wide-ranging, lacking specificity. He also asked if the grants were distributed to all areas of the county.
Commissioner Tarence Maddox said that he felt if the money was available, it was up for grabs, and the best applications should receive it.
Connor said the grant committee had a long list of improvements it would want to see made, too. The commission will hold a subcommittee meeting to review ideas that could improve the process next year.
The grant recipients this year:
• The Family Conservancy, “Healthy Parents, Healthy Kids,” $18,000.
• Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, “New Roots for Refugees,” $50,000.
• Episcopal Community Services Inc., “Wyandotte County Nutrition Action Initiative,” $49,949.
• Bethel Neighborhood Center, “Youth Fit 4 Life,” $50,000.
• Kansas City Community Gardens, Inc., "Healthy Gardeners Wyandotte," $50,000.
• Oak Ridge Youth Development Corp., “Oak Ridge Integrated Health Curriculum,” $50,000.
• Caritas Clinics (Duchesne Clinic), “Supporting Better Choices for People with Diabetes,” $47,600.
• Kansas University Endowment Association, “KCK Organic Teaching Gardens,” $50,000.
• Associated Youth Services Inc., “Healthy, Fit and Informed Dottes,” $50,000.
• Rosedale Development Association Inc., “Rosedale Healthy Kids,” $19,846.
• Resurrection Catholic School at the Cathedral, “Fit for Our Future,” $17,000.
• Cross-Lines Cooperative Council Inc., “Be Healthy, Live Better Wyandotte,” $26,950.
• El Centro Inc., “Promotores de Salud II: Celebrating Quinceneras,” $13,737.