Foster Closet

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Foster Closet

The Foster Closet, brainchild of Chattanooga Area Foster and Adoptive Care Association founders Brett and Amanda Senentz, aims to make foster life a bit easier by putting critical resources at the fingertips of parents and social workers who find themselves in immediate need. Often, when children enter the foster system, they do so suddenly and seriously underprepared. In the rush of packing after a traumatic event, essentials can be left behind, making a fresh start that much more difficult for both parents and children. It's at this point that the Foster Closet is a unique resourcebeyond the basics of clothes and shoes, the closet includes toys and books that can create a sense of comfort and familiarity even in transition. 

This month's $2000 grant will help Foster Closet pay rent for the remainder of 2016, with money left over to reach out to area parents and partner organizations to ensure this resource is available to anyone who needs it. Now that's stretching a buck!

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Tyner After School Kids

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Tyner After School Kids

Tyner After School Kids, or TASK, is an after school program for children in grades 1-3 who are below proficiency in reading, math, or both. In collaboration with Bess T. Shepherd Elementary School and Tyner United Methodist Church, students identified as at-risk are provided a place to thrive in their weakest subjects for the first time. Discipline-specific Lexia (reading) and and IXL (math) learning software is balanced with one on one instruction during TASK's 90-minute sessions to a remarkable result--87% of students in this program achieve grade level proficiency by the end of the school year in May.

With $2000, TASK's organizers Earl Whittaker and Nancy Alexander are able to increase the student group from 30 to 35 young learners at a time.

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SPLASH Winter Workshop

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SPLASH Winter Workshop

Charlie Newton, Executive Director of SPLASH Youth Arts Workshop, will be putting our November grant to work over the winter school break by providing free art classes to kids in the College Hill Courts area. Charlie, who grew up on the Westside and later went on to cultivate a successful career as an artist, has responded to the void in arts education for many local school children. He sees the 8 hours he and his staff will spend teaching each of this session's 40 students  as an opportunity to pull them away from the negative influence of gangs and crime and to foster new creative and personal skills that go beyond their time with SPLASH. In learning to draw the human figure, for instance, Charlie estimates his students will hone knowledge in topics such as anatomy and art history to focus, critique, self-awareness, and confidence. It's big picture work boiled down and concentrated into small but powerful interactions. 

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Kids Aren't Trash

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Kids Aren't Trash

When children enter the foster system, they do so suddenly. An event triggers intervention and quickly the child is removed from a home where he or she is in danger. There isn't time to prepare, nevermind to pack, and the child's belongings are collected into trash bags. A child who has just experienced significant trauma or neglect is now forced to see her favorite items as trash.

Luckily Partnership for Families, Children, and Adults presented an opportunity to intervene with their Kids Aren't Trash campaign. Our dollars went to prepare suitcase care packages stuffed with a blanket, towel, toiletries, and stuffed animal or game for 40 children entering the foster system in the coming months. These items are theirs to keep and present an opportunity for dignity rather than despair at a time when it's desperately needed.

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The LIFT Project

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The LIFT Project

The LIFT project, led by local nonprofit Relevant Hope, provides transportation for Chattanoogans living on the margins during their first month in a new job. With just $2000, the LIFT Project provides 30-day bus passes for 30 folks, and bicycles that can be used well beyond the first month of employment to 10 more. Having also won our October 2014 grant, Relevant Hope is perfectly poised to have a deep impact in the lives of people they help through an operation emphasizing long-term relationships with clients rather than one-time interactions. 

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Tyner Academy's Green Machine

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Tyner Academy's Green Machine

Tyner Academy’s lean, mean, Green Machine is hitting the road! Student leaders have worked with Renewable Energy and Engineering teacher Jerry Webb to create an all-in-one mobile classroom designed to introduce students to green technology, renewable energy, and environmental sustainability concepts. Using their UNFoundation grant, the students will travel to nine area schools, passing along their passion for concepts in sustainability as they go. Even better, each school visited by the Green Machine will be given solar panel and wind turbine kits, allowing students introduced to these new ideas to continue honing their knowledge even after the Green Machine is gone. An invention that keeps on giving, we’re grateful to partner with enterprising students and teachers to reach their goals.

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Winter Gear for Calvin Donaldson

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Winter Gear for Calvin Donaldson

There are few things more important than a warm snuggly coat during the winter. We’re thrilled to support Maggie Rose as she helps to ensure students of Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy are bundled up during cold days. Our $1425 grant helps Ms. Rose, who’s been working directly with teachers at the school for eight years, purchase new and lightly used coats, hats, and gloves to give to the students. Though she begins collecting this gear in August, she continues through the winter to ensure as many students as possible are able to sport their new duds through the cold months. Through a simple gesture, students start and end their days at school warm, proud, and ready to learn. 

Photo Credit: Brick City Live

 

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Magic Markers: A Mark Making Project

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Magic Markers: A Mark Making Project

We are proud to work with Mark Making to cover the John McCloud artist fees for this endeavor. 10-20 East Chattanooga at risk teens will participate in daily 4 hour workshops consisting of one hour of art class, one hour of hard/soft/life skills and two hours of beautification of storefronts on Glass Street with abstract muralettes. The participants will also be paid studio assistants on various public mural projects. They will learn hard skills like washing paintbrushes, preparing a wall for a mural, working opening events, and art installation; all of this while generating an income for themselves. Skills taught in the classroom setting will include problem solving, reliability, making wise choices, and budgeting of money. Investing in these teens will change lives and our community for the better.

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Community Art Gallery on Glass Street

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Community Art Gallery on Glass Street

A new Master's of Fine Arts program is coming to Glass Street in 2016! A long term lease has been secured for their campus, but funds are needed to develop it's first phase, which is a community art gallery. That's where we come in! Our grant will allow them to construct ten pop up walls and the lighting to accompany them so they can begin using the great open space right in the middle of downtown East Chattanooga. The art exhibitions will focus on finding and developing local artistic talent and empowering them through the voice of quality art exhibition opportunities.  The impact on the neighborhood will be immediate.

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Tents for the Lookout Farmers Market

Helping a Chattanoogan sell their wares at a farmers market could mean the difference between paying a bill and not quite making it. By helping provide the market with vendor setups (EZ-Up tents with weights, tables, chairs, and benches) someone who might not have the opportunity to sell their vegetables or craft at one of seven markets will get it. Last year the market loaned a tent and a table to a Ukrainian immigrant. By the end of the market season, she was able to buy her own tent and table. This made a huge impact in her life and the success of the market. Not only will this help the vendor but having more wares available at the market will better serve our communities. The newest market location is in Highland Park, where fresh vegetables are in desperate need.

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Regional Film Awards at Chattanooga Film Fest

We couldn't pass up another opportunity to support the Chattanooga Film Fest this year. It really is the perfect platform for The UNFoundation to find local and regional fimmakers that need funds to propel their artistry. For its second year, we sponsored the awards ceremony to the tune of $1500.  The grand prize winning feature film will take home $1000, while the best short will take home $500. Big checks will be presented Sunday night, April 5th at the closing ceremony in Waterhouse Pavillion (that's the building in Miller Plaza, guys).

The festival brings everything from a Vampire Western to family friendly shorts to an LGBTQ-esque documentary to light up the screens. It's sure to be a reel good time for all. Pun intended.

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Flashlight Shows

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Flashlight Shows

We couldn't pass up an opportunity to support bringing indie bands to Chattanooga while giving back to our community. I mean, who do you think we are? Flashlight Shows puts on shows in music venues and gives a portion of profits to a designated non-profit. For the love of music and all things good, we love how philanthropic these young folks are! Flashlight Shows shines a light on hard working DIY independent bands, deserving charities, and showcase what a great city Chattanooga can be to the bands who pass through.

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