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Duluth nonprofits get financial boost

A $225,000 grant will help YWCA Duluth respond to mental-health issues, an official for the nonprofit said.

"Our focus for our project is really about ... (being) able to better address the growing mental-health needs that we see within all of our programs," said Alice Jacobson, director of external programming at the YWCA.

The grant, which will be provided over three years, comes from the South St. Louis County Family Service Collaboratives and is the largest the program has given out, said Jennifer Jerulle, its director. The collaborative, one of 90 such agencies in the state, has been in place since 1997 and applies state money to projects that serve the community. The amount of grant funding they can provide "depends on the government and what they decide to do," Jerulle said.

A second grant, for $25,000, was awarded to the Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative. Both were announced last week. They were chosen from among seven applicants, Jerulle said.

For the Duluth YWCA, which has an annual budget of a little more than $1 million, the grant represents a sizable chunk of additional money. "Frankly, it was a complete shock that we did get it," Jacobson said.

The money — which will be split into $100,000 this year, $75,000 next year and $50,000 the following year — will be used to hire staff or provide training to staff so they can help constituents obtain the mental-health services they need, she said.

"Our programming serves primarily people who are living in poverty, people in single-parent and mostly female-headed households and then children living in foster care," Jacobson said. "A lot of our families have experienced homelessness, various mental illnesses or domestic violence, and so it's a huge array of issues."

YWCA Duluth, in existence for 125 years, serves about 500 people, she said. Its programs include a child care center and young moms supportive housing at the Spirit Valley YWCA, the leadership development program Girl Power! operating out of seven schools and three drop-in sites, and taking part in Mentor Duluth.

A volunteer board chose YWCA for a significant grant "because of the direct service they provide to the community," Jerulle said.

The $25,000 for Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative will enable the group to offer a pilot program for children and their parents this summer, said Jodi Broadwell, executive director.

That eight-week program will center around 12 emotions with curriculum using the Ojibwe and English languages, said Deb Eagle, who developed it while working at the middle school in Cass Lake, Minn.

Although open to all, it targets Native American families, Eagle said, because those children have the smallest population in the Duluth schools but the highest numbers in special education and in emotional behavior disorder classes.

"There's a lot of immediate trauma that children are coping with — adverse childhood experience, poverty, racism," said Eagle, a parent facilitator on the collaborative's staff who also works for Community Action Duluth. "I wanted to develop something that would help kids develop a stronger sense of identity and stronger self-esteem."

To learn more

The Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative for children and their parents will take place from noon to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, July 10-Aug. 31.

It is free, open to all, and will be available for up to 10-12 families, said Jodi Broadwell, the collaborative's executive director.

Learn more or register by calling the collaborative at (218) 409-7227.