June 27, 2019
Eleven local libraries recently received grants totaling $170,000 through a special capacity-building grant cycle of the Washington County Community Foundation’s (WCCF) Community CARE Fund (CCF). The initiative is designed to support small, independent, community-based libraries in Washington County.
The Foundation defines “capacity-building” as any activity that strengthens a charity’s ability to fulfill its mission over time, and enhances the charity’s ability to have a positive impact on individuals and our community. In addition to submitting a grant request, each library was required to meet the following criteria: be independent, be located in Washington County, and have an annual operating budget of $200,000 or less. School libraries, medical libraries, and other libraries which operate as a part of another institution were not eligible to participate.
The $170,000 in grants was distributed among the libraries as follows:
Avella Area Public Library will use its grant of $15,000 to create a dedicated youth STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) area, as well as a special space for older adults. Board Member Rosemary Jennings remarked, “The Avella library, albeit a wonderful place, needs to be updated for the twenty-first century. With the help of this monetary grant we will be able to equip the library with more up-to-date technology that benefits the residents. As we make the residents aware of our new services, we believe more people will visit the library and enjoy doing so.”
Bentleyville Public Library will use its grant of $15,000 to provide patrons with a dedicated STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) area as well as offer technology dedicated for employment searches and applications. “This grant will provide a lasting impact, not only on our library but also on our community. It will give us the opportunity to provide the much-needed services that will change the lives of our many patrons who come to the library as well as open the doors for new patrons to discover the library,” said Yvonne Baker, Library Board President.
Burgettstown Community Library will use its grant of $10,000 to create a career center with updated technology. Library Director Kirstin Fraizer stated, “With the loss of GED classes in our community, there is a very important need to be able to provide services in this area . . . Many local low-income families and unemployed report not having access to internet services, limiting their access to education, training, and job searching. This grant will provide resources that are critical to job seekers and the economic development of our community.”
California Area Public Library will use its grant of $15,000 to hire an employee to conduct children’s programming and purchase supplies. Since its inception, the library has had to rely solely on the services of volunteers in order to host its children’s programs. “Often a good program ceases when a volunteer’s personal life changes, and at present, we have no children’s volunteers and no programming. With this support from the Community Foundation, we will be able to offer our youngest patrons consistent, quality programming to nurture their growth,” remarked Claudia Bennett, Library Director.
Chartiers-Houston Community Library intends to use its grant of $15,000 to upgrade its existing computers, install a Smartboard, and update shelving. Library Manager Laura Swanson stated, “The library is the only place where all our community members can come to have access to wireless connectivity, printing capabilities, quality information and resources, as well as assistance from qualified and well-trained staff . . . Updated computers and computer work spaces are an important component of ensuring our community members are able to compete in the job market . . .”
Donora Public Library will use its grant of $10,000 to create three separate areas: one for job searches, on for youth STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics), as well as a health area featuring a verified database for current health-related information. “Libraries can leverage technology to create learning opportunities for all ages . . . The projects we have planned for these funds will be an investment in our families and in particular, empower youth whose voices often go unheard,” stated Mark Boyer, Library Director.
Fredericktown Area Public Library plans to use its grant of $15,000 to improve the children’s area, upgrade technology, and provide a one-year subscription to ancestry research software. Currently, the children’s area is in need of appropriate-sized furniture. Library Director Theda Diethorn remarked, “The children and parents will have a space to read, build blocks, use computers, and play without having to sit on the floor.”
Heritage Public Library will use its grant of $15,000 to create a new website, invest in donor tracking software, and upgrade its technology. Library Director Mary Duranti commented, “Individual or private donors are essential to sustain our ability to operate . . . We have to fundraise over 50 percent of our operating budget. It is important to share with donors the difference their donations are making in our community through the library. [This grant] . . . will help us do that.”
John K. Tener Public Library, which will receive a grant totaling $25,000, intends to make vital structural improvements including replacing current wiring and lighting as well as replacing damaged flooring. Board President Barbara L. Pepper remarked, “The impact of this grant, aesthetically, is just delightful; but safety-wise, it is a blessing . . . Future endeavors of all ages are improved with these upgrades.”
Marianna Community Public Library plans to use its $10,000 grant to create a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) area for youth patrons that includes both hardware and software offerings. Acting Director Pamela Clutter stated, “In a community as small as ours the library is more than just a place with books. . . [This grant] will give children who do not have computer access at home the chance to build their computer skills.”
Monongahela Area Library intends to use its grant of $25,000 to upgrade its technology, make improvements to its wireless network, and provide staff training. Library Director Amy Riegner remarked, “Computer usage is one of our most popular services. Internet access has become essential to daily life. Patrons use them for tasks ranging from job searching to social media and typing papers to filing taxes. This grant will allow us to increase our relevancy with what our community needs.”
In addition to improving services for patrons of all ages and all backgrounds, these CCF library grants will help the libraries to continue their transformations into vibrant community centers. Many of the grants will purchase technology that is financially out of reach for some families, as well as provide internet access, which is most critical for patrons without personal internet access. Other grants will create community-based career centers, which is particularly important for rural areas without public transportation. Some grants will be used to make vital structural repairs to library buildings, while others will purchase furniture for special age groups.
Although each library’s request was specific to the needs of its respective community, every grant awarded will increase each library’s capacity to serve its community.
About the WCCF
Serving as a grant-maker, fundraiser, community leader, and donor service organization, the WCCF promotes and facilitates local philanthropy and is the largest publicly supported grant-making foundation head-quartered in Washington County. In addition to hosting an annual day of giving, the WCCF administers a broad grant-making program and provides educational seminars at no charge for local charities. To date, more than $14 million has been awarded from Community Foundation funds.