ike any other nonprofit organization, Girls Inc. of Jackson County relies on donations to function.
Monetary assistance helps the Seymour facility serve more girls, have the supplies they need, offer a variety of programs and keep fees reasonable.
So there’s no question executive director Brenda Tracy was excited when Ray Eakins, banking center manager with Old National Bank in Seymour, recently stopped by with a $7,500 grant from Old National Bank Foundation. That money will help Girls Inc.’s after-school program.
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It’s the second time Girls Inc. has received a grant from the foundation. Two years ago, it received $5,000 for literacy programming.
While any grant is appreciated, Tracy said it’s nice when local organizations help Girls Inc.
“We’re so proud that we get local, community grants and things,” she said. “That just means so much more because they are totally invested in us, and they know people, they know girls that go here and they know families that they are helping, and they get to see that.”
Eakins said the bank’s foundation puts a big emphasis on helping community entities like Girls Inc.
“I think it’s pure and simple — Old National just wants to have a positive impact on its communities, and this is one way we can do that,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of an organization that provides this kind of opportunity for our communities.”
Eakins said the foundation awards grants twice a year. The grants committee receives hundreds of applications, which are submitted online, and there is a different amount of money available to go around each time.
In 2014, the foundation awarded nearly $1.3 million to 220 nonprofit organizations in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan.
Tracy said the grant a couple of years ago was used to furnish the library and start a literacy program. The library has been a popular gathering place for girls, she said.
“Kids love coming in here,” she said. “They love the atmosphere. Even ones that don’t like to read, those are the ones that we especially want to get in there, and it has been working.”
This time around, the grant is going to benefit a program that draws around 150 girls a day after school and also in the summer.
The cost is $50 per year for girls in kindergarten through sixth grade, and it’s free for seventh- through 12th-graders if they promise to volunteer.
“We ask them to come and volunteer rather than take classes, but then they are getting leadership skills and how to be a role model and how to behave, and then we throw some programs in for them, too,” Tracy said of the older girls.
The after-school program, which Tracy said is nationally researched and evaluated, educates girls in a variety of subjects, including economics, science, technology, engineering and math.
“We know that if a girl is here and gets exposed to the people and the environment and the programs that she’s more likely to succeed, but we need data to prove that,” Tracy said.
“So our national organization — and we’re a pilot site for that — is now starting to collect and provide data for girls that are a part of our Girls Inc. experiences so that we will have the data to prove to funders that a girl is here for a certain amount of time and does classes and things, that she’s going to graduate from high school and not be pregnant and go on to college,” she said.
Every Girls Inc. program has an ulterior motive behind it to let girls be strong, smart and bold, Tracy said.
“It’s not just the program. It’s the whole environment of encouraging girls to succeed,” Tracy said. “Then the people that are here, the mentors that they get, the staff gets so involved in their lives and looking out for them. They are a sounding board and a role model, so it’s the staff, the people and the whole Girls Inc. pro-girl environment.”
Tracy said she has seen a lot of girls benefit from the Girls Inc. experience.
“We have lots of stories of girls being really shy coming in and then being leaders in their high school class and then leaders in their community now,” she said. “From their Girls Inc. experience, it’s just finding that self-confidence and that boldness from that.”
Besides offering programs to girls around the county at the Seymour facility, Girls Inc. also has an offsite after-school program four days a week in Crothersville.
“If we can find funding in Brownstown and Medora to do an after-school program, we would definitely do it,” Tracy said.
The Old National Bank Foundation makes charitable donations to IRS-designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to fund large-scope and large-impact programs and/or projects.
The foundation is a part of Old National’s overall grants and sponsorships initiative, which enables it to support programs that improve quality of life in areas of Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan where its clients, associates and shareholders live and work.
For information about funding priorities, application guidelines and other grant information, visit oldnational.com/grants.