By Brad Dress
For The Diamondback
The College Park Community Foundation set a new record this year after raising more than $15,000 to donate to local nonprofits.
The foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting local charities, donated between $250 and $1,500 to 15 nonprofit organizations in College Park, said Nick Brennan, the foundation's co-chair. The donation amount depended on the needs and costs of the community project, he said.
Organizations benefiting from these donations ranged from museums in the city — such as the National Museum of Language — to programs at the University of Maryland to local groups seeking to aid the community.
"The more we give out, obviously the less money we have," Brennan said. "But really at the end of the day, that is why we are here. We are here to support nonprofit organizations and give them grants to support the work they are doing in our community."
James McFadden, the treasurer for the National Museum of Language located in College Park, said his company has worked with the foundation for four years, adding they "are the most helpful group we have ever dealt with."
McFadden said the museum will use the $1,000 in grant money to pay for a part-time worker, purchase supplies for a summer camp and repair older exhibits.
"We wouldn't have been able to buy the equipment last year if it wasn't for them," he added, "and this year it will repair some exhibits, and I don't think we would have had the money if it hadn't been for them."
Donations over the last few years have grown, Brennan said. In 2013, when the foundation first initiated this grant program, the foundation had only about $1,300 to give. The following year, this amount increased to $4,000, and in 2016, the foundation raised $9,000, he added.
However, this year was the foundation's highest projection, and Brennan said the goal is to "maintain that level of giving or increase it" in the future.
The foundation raises money from local business donations, as well as fundraisers such as an annual gala and a 5k run, which takes place every May, Brennan said. This year's increase in funds is a direct result of a soaring awareness of the organization, he added.
Those awarded money this year must use the funds on any project, event or other necessity by the end of 2017, Brennan said, adding that special projects needing money outside the time frame were given out on a case-by-case basis. Applications for grant money were available in June, he said, and the selected nonprofits were announced in September.
"I think [the donations] have a big impact," Brennan said. "A $1,000 grant can really make a difference between them being able to do the project or not being able to do the project."
Brennan also said he was specifically thrilled about granting money to this university's Office of Community Engagement, as the money will help fund Good Neighbor Day on April 7. This annual event hosts an array of projects, which "beautify the area in College Park," and give back to the community, said Gloria Aparicio Blackwell, the office's director of community engagement.
Blackwell said she hopes the foundation gains more recognition because the organization creates a stronger community.
"That's the beauty of the College Park Community Foundation," she said. "They create an environment that enhances the quality of life for the citizens in College Park."