The Newark Advocate awards grants focusing on kids

The Advocate has awarded three grants to Licking County organizations aimed at helping local children prosper.

The grants will hopefully help kids grow physically, mentally and socially, said Editor Benjamin Lanka.

“There is nothing more important we can do as a society than ensure our next generation has the support to grow into healthy, prosperous adults,” he said.

The grants are part of the community grant program provided by The Advocate’s parent company through the Gannett Foundation.

The Licking County Family YMCA was awarded a $3,500 grant for its Healthy Kids Network Backpack Program. The program provides backpacks of nutritious food for the weekends during the school year to students in kindergarten through 5th grade in county schools. 

Thanks in part to the grant, Edward Bohren, local YMCA CEO, said the program will be able to provide 1,245 weekend backpacks, which is 11,209 pounds of food to hungry children in Licking County.

“The generous funding from the Gannett Foundation is crucial to providing and expanding this program,” Bohren said. “Two out of three kids in Licking County are dealing with access to food issues. It is the social responsibility of the YMCA to help meet these needs for children.”

Mental Health America of Licking County also was awarded a $2,000 grant for its Girls in Progress program. The program helps mentor and empower middle school girls, who use art journaling to express their feelings and learn skills to foster resilience.

Penny Sitler, executive director of the organization, thanked the foundation for recognizing the important work the program does for middle-school girls.

“The need for this program has surpassed anything we imagined when it started nearly five years ago,” she said. “From one middle school class, we’ve expanded to 23 classes in seven schools, and we are being asked to do more with limited resources. This grant makes a huge difference!”

The Advocate also awarded a $1,000 grant to The Works for its STEMfest! event. The program is a two-day event for middle and high school students from across central Ohio. The event challenges students to design solutions to real-world problems in science, technology and engineering.

Marcia Downes, director at The Works, said the grant and other similar ones will allow her organization to keep STEMfest as a no-cost event for students and their parents. This includes supply kits for each challenge. In addition, winners of the competition are eligible for a $1,000 grant from the Licking County Foundation.

“Our joint partnership gives students the opportunity to excel and be rewarded for their research and design,” she said.

More information on the program can be found at

Published Dec. 13, 2018 in the Newark Advocate


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