Impact 100 Owensboro officials revealed Tuesday the finalists for this year’s $226,000 in grants, which will be awarded at the nonprofit’s annual meeting on Oct. 22.

Two $100,000 grants will be given, along with a $26,000 residual grant.

Also, Impact 100’s Next Generation, a spin-off group for teen girls, will award a grant worth $10,800 on the same night.

“Our community is so fortunate to have such a robust and vibrant nonprofit community,” said Tracy Naylor, grants committee chair and president elect, in a press release. “We have truly witnessed the depth of their strength and stamina during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each application we received was creative, thoughtful and committed to helping transform lives. Every one of our nonprofits could easily be on this list today.”

Finalists for the $100,000 awards and their projects are:

• Friends of the Daviess County Public Library — Grant money is needed to create the Impact Center for Job Seekers and Small Business Owners.

• H.L Neblett Community Center — The center titled its project Housing to Educate to Elevate, a plan to buy a two-classroom mobile unit to house the Western Academy at the Neblett.

• Owensboro Community & Technical College — The college’s Laptop Loaner Program would provide 100 laptops for students.

• RiverPark Center — Arts Teach Kids on the Go, which would take productions to schools and health-care facilities.

• Western Kentucky Regional Blood Center — The center plans to buy a $368,000 bloodmobile.

Finalists for the $26,000 residual award and their projects are:

• Dream Riders of Kentucky — The nonprofit wants to insulate its equine therapy arena and construct a mental health therapeutic area.

• Wendell Foster — Grant money would be used to purchase a disinfectant machine and electrostatic sprayers.

Three finalists will vie for NextGen’s $10,800 grant:

• Girls Inc. — The nonprofit hopes to create a Teen Impact Room.

• The Owen Autism Center — This new autism center, which is a division of Puzzle Pieces, has a project titled Sensory Solutions.

• Sunrise Children’s Services — The grant would pay for an autism sensory room.

This marks the library’s first try at an Impact 100 grant.

Shannon Sandefur, DCPL community engagement manager, said she was speechless to learn the project was a finalist.

“I’m so excited,” Sandefur said. “I don’t know how to adequately express my gratitude and excitement.”

If chosen, the grant would pay to redesign the northeast tower area of the library into a small business incubator of sorts.

The area would include private workspace for business owners. It would provide them with a wide-format printer for designing and printing signs.

“Job seekers can come and work on applications and resumes,” she said.

Also, the grant includes an outreach component. Library personnel would go to recovery centers and homeless shelters to assist residents with job searches.

At the Neblett Community Center, its Western Academy scholars don’t have classrooms dedicated to their program, an effort that started last year to end the achievement gap for Black boys.

“We are busting out at the seams,” Olga McKissic, executive director, said. “As we continue to add on more scholars every year, it will be imperative they have their own space.”

Already, the center has repurposed a computer library for after-school classes. Other spaces do double-duty.

“We are very limited on what we can do because we don’t have our own space,” McKissic said.

Puzzle Pieces received a $100,000 grant from Impact 100 in 2013, when the nonprofit was a new organization.

“That grant was transformational for us,” said Amanda Owen, founder and executive director.

The award brought validation and recognition on a scale Puzzle Pieces couldn’t earn any other way, Owen said.

“It allowed us to expand and make a difference for our clients and build out programs,” she said.

Linda Wahl, Impact 100 president, congratulated this year’s finalists.

“No matter what projects are chosen to receive grant funding, they are all winners in our community,” Wahl said in a press release. “It is our hope — and it has happened many times in the past — that through Impact 100’s recognition, the community may see their value and step up to support their very important work.”

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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