The Women’s Fund of Smith County awarded almost $230,000 in grants to programs addressing STEM education, crisis counseling, suicide prevention and affordable housing.

The grants, announced during a Thursday reception at Willow Brook Country Club, included: $35,000 to Discovery Science Place; $46,750 to the East Texas Crisis Center; $97,323 to Next Step Community Solutions; and $50,000 to People Attempting To Help (PATH). 

“As members of the Women’s Fund of Smith County, we are dedicated to working together,” President Kristen Seeber said, according to a news release about the event. “Everything we do is guided by the values we share. Our core values of collective giving, collaboration, respect, excellence and responsibility are practiced through our programs and our actions.”

Discovery Science Place will use its grant to purchase a professionally produced planetarium system – “Discovery Dome.”

This mobile planetarium unit is designed to provide thousands of students in Smith County access to a unique interactive presentation addressing the areas of STEM, which are science, technology, engineering and math.

The East Texas Crisis Center will use its grant to hire a third licensed professional counselor for its Counseling Intervention Program. This will expand the number of clients able to receive therapy and relieve the backlog and growing demand for counseling services to clients in crisis, according to the news release. 

Next Step Community Solutions will use its grant for Suicide Prevention and Counseling Expansion. The addition of this new program — an evidence-based universal youth suicide prevention program — will aim to use the power of peer social networks to change unhealthy norms and cultures, ultimately preventing suicide, bullying and substance abuse at two Smith County public school campuses. 

PATH will use its grant funds to expand its Transitional Housing Program. Presently, PATH owns 52 homes that are identified as affordable and are marketed to low-income families. With this grant, PATH seeks to add an additional housing case manager to expand the program and work with more families, helping them achieve goals that enable them to stabilize and thrive. 

Since 2009, the Women’s Fund of Smith County has awarded grants totaling $1.6 million, impacting 27 different Smith County nonprofit agencies and those served by them.

“The grant-making program is the heart and primary focus of our organization,” said Kay Latta, 2019 board chairwoman. “Each member of the Women’s Fund has a voice in the grants process through her giving and her vote for the grants we award annually.”

The next Women’s Fund of Smith County grants process will begin in May, with a seminar for area nonprofits. Information about the grants program, as well as Women’s Fund membership and events, is posted on the website at www.womensfundsc.org.

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