Rotary receives Gates grant

MARYSVILLE — Rotary District 5050, which includes Marysville and Arlington, has already partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for years on eradicating polio overseas, but the Gates Foundation’s latest matching grants will help District 5050’s 27 local clubs alleviate the problem of family homelessness in their own backyards.

Larry Jubie, past governor of Rotary District 5050, explained that the Rotarians across northwest Washington will contribute funds to match a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation. He deemed this new partnership a perfect fit for local Rotary clubs, which already work to serve the needs of young people and families through food bank donations and scholarships.

“We’ve had a lot more homeless families in the area in the last couple of years, with the economy the way it is,” Jubie said. “Since our partnership with the Gates Foundation on polio has been so successful, we started looking at other ways we could team up.”

Jubie noted that more than half of the region’s homeless are children and their parents, a statistic which he deemed a tragedy. To reverse this trend, Rotary District 5050 will serve as the intermediary for the Gates Foundation’s grant monies, by providing sub-grants to the District’s 27 local clubs, who will in turn by charged with raising matching funds and providing those grant monies directly to selected local non-profits that are working to meet the needs of homeless families.

Each local Rotary club can apply for grants between $2,500 and $10,000, and will give priority to organizations that address one or more of five steps to end family homelessness:

n Early intervention and prevention before people lose their housing.

n Coordinated access to determine exactly what support each family requires to stabilize themselves.

n Programs tailored to meet the unique needs of individual families.

n Rapid re-housing into permanent homes rather than temporary shelter.

n Increased economic opportunity to help parents reduce the gap between income and rent.

Clubs in Rotary District 5050 will also host educational seminars and presentations on family homelessness, while clubs throughout northwest Washington will also support organizations working to develop or improve technology that would provide meaningful data on family homelessness. Advocacy organizations that aim to build support among community leaders and educate policy-makers are also eligible for local Rotary grants.

“It’s really being left up to the District’s discretion,” Jubie said. “It’s on a first-come, first-served basis. They’ll have to find matching funds, but we Rotarians are used to working with matching grants anyway. Because it’s through the District rather than the Foundation, the process will also be much quicker.”

To that end, Jubie hopes to see these grant monies fully distributed by the end of next year, and is even considering how this partnership might be continued for a second year.

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