Comcast Foundation gives grants to two nonprofits for kids

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Beaver County and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania in Carnegie are among 11 Pittsburgh area recipients of grants from the Comcast Foundation.

To support programs focused on community service, digital literacy and the empowerment of tomorrow’s leaders, the foundation awarded $591,000 in grants to 30 nonprofit organizations in its Keystone Region, which covers portions of northeastern, central and Western Pennsylvania; the Maryland panhandle; eastern Ohio; and northern West Virginia.

Two of the grants will go to organizations here. Big Brothers Big Sisters will receive $10,000. The Boys & Girls Clubs will receive $15,000.

“We were thrilled,” said Lynell Scaff, executive director of Beaver County organization. “With this economy, nonprofits have to be very creative in finding ways in which to fund their operations.” This is the second time the organization has received a foundation grant.

The money will go to support the campus mentoring program that transports children ages 6 to 12 to meet with their college student Big Brothers or Big Sisters on the campuses of Geneva College and Penn State-Beaver.

Portions of the funding also will be used to assist in recruiting and training mentors for at-risk youth. Mentors go through a process to be qualified, Ms. Scaff said, which includes background checks and screenings.

Once qualified to volunteer, mentors are matched with a youth who has similar interests, such as academics, athletics, art, music or anything that could serve as a tie between the adult and child and give them a starting point to build a level of comfort with one another.

The hope, Ms. Scaff said, is that an increased number of mentors will reduce the waiting list for matches, which is currently at a little more than 50 and is a challenge the group always faces.

The group is ecstatic about the grant, she said, because the demand for its services has never been greater.

“Their support will significantly increase the number and effectiveness of the caring individuals identified and trained to serve as Big Brothers and Big Sisters to vulnerable youth,” she said.

David Madjerich, vice president of operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania in Carnegie, said that group is thrilled as well with the funding, which will go toward expenses such as staffing, program supplies and new computer systems for the Carnegie and McKeesport locations.

A portion also will help to offset the cost to children who want to participate. Mr. Madjerich said the organization doesn’t turn any child away, so some of the money will be used to alleviate monthly fees associated with membership.

Any amount of money helps because the organization always tries to keep technology up to date, he said, particularly since it offers some of the national programs the organization offers, such as Club Tech, a digital literacy and technology skills program. “Everybody in the nonprofit community is scrambling for operating dollars, but in this case, it’s going to add some value to the program and the supplies that we have,” he said. “It’s a nice complement to what we have now.”

Shannon Nass, freelance writer:

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