A Millbrook private family foundation has made a $441,000 commitment to Lewis County youths.
Steve Densmore, Dyson Foundation spokesman, said the foundation has always had an inclination to support nonprofits that are connected to youths, particularly in rural areas.
“Lewis County is serving as a proving ground where programs are needed in upstate communities,” he said. “The foundation hopes support offered by established organizations will serve as models for other funders and provide beneficial human service programs elsewhere.”
Support includes partnerships with the Northern New York Community Foundation, with which the Dyson Foundation already has a five-year working relationship. The Dyson Foundation recently awarded the Community Foundation a $100,000 matching grant to support youth programs in Lewis County.
“The focus will be youth development, empowerment and related programming,” said Rande S. Richardson, Community Foundation executive director. “I think they’re looking for us to identify areas of more great need because we’re more familiar with the service area.”
Mr. Richardson said the Community Foundation’s Lewis County board members will select people in that county to participate on a committee to decide exactly how the money will be spent and which organizations will receive it. People interested in being on that committee should call the Community Foundation at 782-7110.
The Dyson Foundation also recently awarded a $236,000 grant to the North Country Prenatal/Perinatal Council to develop an 18-month initiative to address an increase in adolescent pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections throughout Lewis County over the past several years. According to a news release issued by the council, the most recent available data from the state Department of Health showed Lewis County had 43 teenage pregnancies in 2008, compared with only 31 in 2005.
“We have not been able to serve Lewis County with adolescent pregnancy prevention services as the total number of teen pregnancies is considered ‘low’ by New York state,” said Penny A. Ingham, council executive director. “It is one of the challenges for rural areas where we have small populations.”
The council is collaborating with two other Lewis County groups, Lowville Academy and Central School and Mountain View Prevention Services, to promote the program. The grant has also sparked a restart of the Lewis County Communities that Care Coalition, which now has a pregnancy prevention focus. The kickoff meeting will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Mountain View office on Number Three Road, Lowville. Anyone interested in being part of the group is asked to call the agency at 376-2321.
The Dyson Foundation is committed to funding teenage pregnancy and prevention programs, as it also awarded Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York a $30,000 grant to expand its use of new media and technology to attract adolescent patients in Lewis County.
Martha E. Stahl, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of external affairs, said the money will help with social media outreach through paid advertisements on Facebook and will also allow the agency to purchase iPads for adolescent patients to use while in the Lowville Health Center, 7398 Turin Road, Lowville. A texting program will also be created.
“Teens will be able to text their sexual health questions to a health educator,” she said. “Because Lewis County is so rural, one issue teens have is the lack of transportation, and there aren’t a lot of real places for teens to gather or access our center. This is a way to just ask a question and get an answer.”
A $75,000 grant was also awarded to Transitional Living Services of Northern New York to be spent over the next three years to supplement funding for the Advantage After School Program at Harrisville Central School. The program provides youth development opportunities for children in grades four through eight for three hours a day after school.
It is supported through a partnership with the school district, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department and Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York.
Mr. Densmore said the Dyson Foundation is seeing a dramatic increase in grant applications from nonprofits and human service organizations because those organizations need supplemental support as state funding diminishes. For more information on the foundation, call the agency at (845) 677-0644.