Children and Families Programs Receive Generous Grants

Volunteers of America North Louisiana’s children and families programs, The LightHouse and partnership with Communities In Schools, receive a $335,000 grant from the Community Foundation of North Louisiana and United Way of Northwest Louisiana.

This year’s award breakdown is $35,000 from the United Way of Northwest Louisiana and $300,000 allocated from the Annie Lowe Stiles Fund and the Paula H. Hickman Fund at the Community Foundation of North Louisiana. Kristi Gustavson, Community Foundation of North Louisiana Executive Director, shared, “The purpose of the Paula H. Hickman Fund is to fund grants to organizations presenting ideas for effective and efficient programs that address critical community issues.” Gustavson continued, “This is the first grant we’ve given out of this fund.” Hickman is also a co-founder of the LigthHouse program.

Over the years, the generous support of these two agencies has affected the lives of thousands in our community. The United Way of Northwest Louisiana has invested over $1.5 million and The Community Foundation of North Louisiana has invested $5.2 million in Volunteers of America North Louisiana’s programs, primarily focusing on children and families.

Since 1989, Volunteers of America North Louisiana has been providing academic support, family services, and cultural experiences to children and their families through the LightHouse program. The program operates during out-of-school hours and in the summer providing students and families with academic support and wrap around services with the goal of improving academic performance.

During the 2014-2015 school year, the LightHouse program expanded its services via a new collaboration with Communities In Schools (CIS). CIS is a national organization serving 1.57 million students in 25 states. Communities In Schools builds relationships that empower students to stay in school and succeed in life. School-based coordinators, along with teachers, identify challenges students face in class or at home and coordinate with community partners to bring outside resources inside schools. From immediate needs like food or clothing to more complex ones like counseling or emotional support, we do whatever it takes to help students succeed.

Together, The LightHouse and CIS programs address the issues facing low-income children who are falling behind academically. Volunteers of America North Louisiana estimates over 4,200 children will benefit from the two programs and services in the 2018-19 academic year.

Chuck Meehan, President/CEO, expressed his sincere gratitude to Gustavson at the annual Board of Directors meeting, “We frankly could not do what we have done at Volunteers of America if it weren’t for the Community Foundation. Thank you to all of the trustees and bless you.”

This generous grant will go towards closing a $2 million dollar funding gap for the fiscal year 2018-19.