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Local History

$109,475 Given to Eight Agencies Fighting Rural Poverty

On Tuesday, eight agencies came from across the Ozarks to the Commerce Bank in Springfield to receive a total of over $100,000 in grants to fight rural poverty. KSMU’s Matt Evans has more.

Nine of Missouri’s ten poorest counties are located in the rural Ozarks. The Coover Regional Grantmaking Program has been providing much needed money to agencies fighting poverty in the Ozarks since 1992. It’s a joint effort between the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Commerce Trust Company.

“For instance one child, we see so much potential in him and we’re trying very hard to find different activities for him. He lives in a two bedroom home with 17 people.”

That’s Susan Skaggs, the executive director of the Ripley County Caring Community Partnership. Her group was awarded about $9,000 to provide nutritious evening meals and weekend snacks to students. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Ripley County had a per capita income of $12,889 in 1999, making it the third poorest county in the State, following Oregon and Shannon Counties.

The Samaritan Center, based in Clinton, Missouri, was awarded $15,000. The center is the only food and clothing distribution center in Henry County and serves about 800 families.

Jodie Billings is the executive director of the Samaritan Center and she says this grant is the largest individual grant the center has received since she took over.

“This will be able to buy food; we have new coolers and freezers so we will be able to fill them up.”

In fact, she’ll be able to fill them up with 150,000 pounds of meat, fruits, and vegetables. Billings says the need for food is on the rise. Recently, the center saw 92 families in a single day, which is an overall record in 22 years.

This year, 35 organizations applied for nearly half a million dollars in requested funds. The review panel narrowed that number down to eight organizations and gave out just over $109,000. Doug Thornsberry is the Chair-Elect of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ Board of Directors.

“Since ’92, the Coover Foundation has given away over $2 million and that works out to about $117,000 a year. So we’re a little bit lower than we have been in the past, but we would expect with the market rebound to have more funding available next year.”

Thornsberry says the Coover Grants will continue to be given out annually.

For KSMU News, I’m Matt Evans.

Recipients of the 2009-2010 Coover Regional Awards are:

Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks - $14,000Cabool Development Foundation - $13,000Care to Learn – Ozark, Nixa, Bolivar School Systems - $15,000Hope’s Bridge - $14,500Ozark Resource Group - $13,950Ripley County Caring Community Partnership - $9,025Samaritan Outreach Center - $15,000The Samaritan Center - $15,000