Wheat Ridge Ministries Awards $40,000 In Emerging Leader Grants

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Itasca, IL – Wheat Ridge Ministries recently awarded four Emerging Leader Grants totaling $40,000. Emerging Leader grants are offered at $5,000 for one year or $10,000 over two years for a new health or human care program led by young adult leaders in the Lutheran community.

In addition to the grant, participants also receive additional funds for capacity building or professional development expenses; an invitation to attend the annual Emerging Leader Convening, hosted and paid for by Wheat Ridge Ministries; professional program development consultation from Wheat Ridge staff; free attendance for all Wheat Ridge webinars; and promotion and networking within the Wheat Ridge community.

Proposals for the Emerging Leader Grant Program are accepted year-round with grants awarded quarterly. The next deadline is August 31, 2017 with grants awarded in October. 

For more information regarding grant requests, please visit the website at wheatridge.org/emergingleadergrants.

The newest Emerging Leader Grant recipients are:

Ms. Leigh Carr, Speech Language Pathologist
Play ‘N Say
Genacross Lutheran Services, Holland, Ohio
Grant Amount – $10,000

Leader Profile:
Leigh Carr holds a Master of Communication Sciences and Disorders from Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina. As a licensed Speech Language Pathologist, she has been working with the pediatric population since 2011. She came to Genacross Lutheran Services, Holland, Ohio, with a passion for working with pediatrics after having started a cash-based program for children in need of speech therapy due to stuttering in a previous position. When Leigh joined the staff at Genacross, she not only had the experience to create a similar program, but also had the ingenuity to blend inter-generational elements into play-based group therapy sessions that benefit both seniors and the children.

Project Description:
Genacross began as an orphanage in 1862 and, by the turn of the century, the home was also caring for the elderly. In a commitment to care for people in all stages of their life’s journey, outpatient speech therapy services for preschool-aged children with speech-language delays will be developed. Their mission is to create a group language-based summer session using play to improve receptive and expressive language abilities for the children in the community while at the same time improving the quality of life for residents in the assisted living facility through interaction with children.

Ms. Elizabeth Galik, Executive Director
R CITY’s Path to Career
River City Community Development Center, Chicago, Ill.
Grant Amount – $10,000

Leader Profile:
After graduating from Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind., Beth came to Chicago’s West Side in 2004 to teach at Bethel Lutheran School. After Bethel closed its doors in 2006, she re-opened the school’s empty computer lab to serve the community’s children, teens, and adults. Eventually, Beth served five years as executive director of the New Life Center in Chicago, which then led to her current position of executive director of the River City Community Development Center. There, just a few blocks away from her first school-turned-community-center, she helped launch R CITY in 2015, a nonprofit that walks with families from cradle to career.

Project Description:
River City Community Development Center seeks to bring together the best of Chicago to build a path for families to walk from cradle to career. This project works in three stages, each preparing students for careers by casting vision, growing relationships, and teaching skills. Fifty children, ages 4-11, engage in holistic after-school and summer programs that provide a strong start and big dreams towards career; 30 youth, ages 11-15, practice healthy relationships through sports and mentoring; and 8 teens, ages 12-18, gain workplace skills through paid apprenticeships in tuck-pointing that is provided at no cost for low-income neighbors.

Ms. Elsa Gumm, Staff and LifeServe Coordinator
Teen Allies for Healthy Relationships
Christ Memorial Lutheran Church, Fitchburg, Wis.
Grant Amount – $10,000

Leader Profile:
Through her work with social justice advocacy mentors, and supported by a church where connecting others to life in Jesus is their passion and mission, Elsa Gumm has developed a strong commitment to seeing and responding to the hurt happening in her community as a result of intimate partner violence. Spurred into action by a tragedy in her own community, Elsa became more involved with Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS). She is now a Community Response Advocate with DAIS and serves on the Dane County Community Coordinated Response – Faith Issues Subcommittee. In her role as both a volunteer youth group leader and as Staff and LifeServe Coordinator at Christ Memorial Lutheran Church, she is now touching the lives of many by educating and empowering the youth in the community to understand what a healthy relationship looks like, what unhealthy and abusive relationships look like, and how to respond when they find themselves in such a relationship or suspect a friend is involved in one.

Project Description:
The mission of Teen Allies for Healthy Relationships (TAHR) is to build safe, healthy communities for all people by equipping teenagers with tools to recognize and respond to abusive relationships among their peers. TAHR is a partnership of youth groups, schools, and social service organizations in the Madison, Wisconsin, area working to empower teenagers to respond appropriately to dating abuse (which affects one in three teens). In doing so, this will cultivate a culture of shared ownership of social problems, transforming the communities these teenage leaders live in, as well as those they adopt in adulthood, into healthy, nurturing environments.

Mr. Ayodele Saromi, Office Administrator
Fit Minds/Fit Bodies HS After-school Program
The New LIFE School, Bronx, N.Y.
Grant Amount – $10,000

Leader Profile:
Ayodele Saromi, Office Administrator at the New LIFE School in the South Bronx, N.Y., is a teacher, mentor, and community health advocate all rolled into one. Since graduating from Lehman College, The City University of New York, Bronx, Ayo has held a variety of positions in human services, including enrollment coordinator, comprehensive care manager, athletic coach/behavioral therapist supervisor, and attendance teacher. One of his passions is teaching martial arts to children with Autism, and he strives to find innovative ways to reach students with special needs, fostering an interest in martial arts, improving students’ socialization skills through cooperative fitness activities, and teaching children how to eat healthy foods to improve their quality of life.

Project Description:
Fit Minds/Fit Bodies is an after-school program for high school students with special needs at New LIFE School. The program will serve 10 high school students, ages 13-19, teaching life skills, fitness through martial arts, and study skills. The program will consist of two 90-minute learning blocks focused on improving academic skills, physical fitness, and life skills to achieve higher rates of homework compliance and improved participation in group learning activities. Participants will also acquire appropriate social skills such as assertiveness and negotiation, to resist negative peer pressure each student faces every day.

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