Every year for the past nine years, the town and village of Athens have had their own personal version of Santa Claus, who hands out thousands of dollars in post-Christmas grants to local not-for-profit organizations.
This year, the Athens Community Foundation is living up to its reputation, distributing $138,040 in grants to 27 Athens-based civic, sports, cultural, fraternal, educational and governmental groups.
In all, 30 grants will be handed out to the 27 groups, ranging from Little League to the village and town to the library and the senior center.
The Athens Community Foundation was established nearly a decade ago as part of the agreement with the Town of Athens that enabled the Athens Generating plant to be constructed, and over the years has given out well over a million dollars.
This year’s grant award total of $138,040 is nearly $12,000 higher than last year’s awards, which totaled $126,460.
Local organizations each year submit applications for grant money, which this year totaled $234,200. The Advisory Board then sifts through the applications and makes decisions on how much money should be awarded to which organizations, whittling the award amounts down to the appropriate total.
According to a press release from the Athens Community Foundation, despite the nation’s continued economic woes, “this year’s awards represent a steady commitment to the people of Athens, thanks, in part, to sustained growth of the funds through prudent investing of the fund’s principal by its three trustees and by the equally conscientious recommendations by the Foundation’s eleven member Advisory Board.”
While Athens Generating has completed its part of the original deal that established the Foundation – contributing funds each of several years to get the Foundation started — with wise investing it is hoped the organization will be able to continue in perpetuity.
According to Foundation Trustee Gene Hatton, who is also Athens’ deputy town supervisor, “with this grant set, the ninth annual round of grants by the Foundation, the number of grants over the life of the Foundation now totals 239, along with a total dollar figure disbursement of over $1,400,000.”
Also helping keep the funding pool fiscally sound is a contribution from the Peckham Family Foundation, which for the fourth year in a row contributed its own grant to underwrite the Foundation’s expenses. While the trustees and Advisory Board are all volunteers, there are minimal expenses such as taxes, accountant fees and state regulatory fees.
Other corporate donors to the Foundation this year included Morgan Stanley’s Charitable Spending Program and the Bank of Greene County.
Each year, grant money enables local not-for-profit groups and the two municipalities – the town and village – to complete projects and programs they might otherwise not be able to afford.
Past grants have been used to replace the deck on the Athens Recreation Association’s swimming pool, purchase uniforms for Boy Scouts, make improvements to the Athens Community Center and purchase items for the senior center.
Virtually every Athens-based not-for-profit group has benefited from the grant awards in some way over the past nine years.