, Muskogee, OK

April 21, 2013

Competition for foundation grants gets tougher

City of Muskogee Foundation gets crop of good grant applications

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Competition for grants that will be awarded in June by the City of Muskogee Foundation appears to be tough this year.

Frank Merrick, the foundation’s executive director, said it looks like this “will be the first year we will have to turn down good grants.” In the past, Merrick said, the foundation has “had more money than good grant” applications.

Grants Administrator D.J. Thompson said the foundation received 53 letters of inquiry for this year’s regular grant cycle. Those who submitted inquiries were seeking funds totaling more than $7 million.

Of the 53 letters of inquiry, board members asked 40 applicants to complete the application process. Those 40 grant applicants are requesting funds totaling almost $5.14 million, more than the foundation’s 2013 grant budget.

Foundation board members approved in December a grant budget totaling $4.25 million this year. A portion of that, however, has been committed for this year’s summer programs that have been awarded grants and various foundation scholarships.

Thompson said the foundation allocated $240,690 for 2013 summer grants and will award about $163,600 as scholarship funds during the 2013-2014 school year. That leaves those 40 applicants competing for a little less than $3.85 million during this year’s regular grant cycle.

Merrick said board members will “have to make some hard decisions” as they winnow the list of applicants from grant recipients and the amount of money awarded. But he said that “is a good problem to have.”

“It’s better than saying, ‘We have this money, now who are we going to give it to,’” Merrick said, noting the significant improvements he has seen during the past five years in Muskogee’s nonprofit community and the quality of proposed grants. “Clearly, we will not be able to fully fund everything that has been requested.”

Thompson said the number of letters of inquiries received this year exceeded the 40 submitted in 2012 seeking $4.2 million. Of those initial requests, grants totaling $3 million were awarded to 30 applicants. In 2011, the foundation received 68 letters of inquiry submitted with requests totaling more than $10 million and awarded $4.4 million.

The City of Muskogee Foundation is a nonprofit corporation formed in 2008 by the city to develop, support and promote programs designed to improve the quality of life in Muskogee. The foundation is funded with proceeds from the 40-year lease of EASTAR Health System, formerly known as Muskogee Regional Medical Center, to Capella Healthcare. A portion of its returns on the investment of that money is used to fund grants designed to promote its mission.

Its board of directors — made up of nine at-large members, two city councilors, the mayor and city manager — is entrusted with overseeing and investing the organization’s assets to meet the foundation’s objectives.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or

Grant applications

Organization, Project, Amount requested

Five Civilized Tribes Museum, collection digitization, phase 2, $30,000

City of Muskogee, housing rehabilitation, $600,000

    COINS for Critters spay and neutering clinic, $10,000

    City attorney’s juvenile offender service program, $66,965

    Parks and recreation Teen Center, $133,020

    Parks and recreation,* $500,000

Muskogee City-County 911 Trust Authority,    call center equipment upgrade, $152,257

Muskogee County Transit,    vehicle replacement, $242,000

    Safety, awareness enhancement, $150,000

Muskogee Little Theater,*    Capital project restructure, $500,000

Muskogee War Memorial USS Batfish, Old war stories, $45,000

Nonprofit Resource Center, resource development, $113,993

    Strengthening organizational capacity for foundation grantees,    $72,606

    Community Circles program,* $285,000

Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame,* operations, $185,000

Three Rivers Museum, building repair, restoration, $90,000

Volunteers of America, RSVP We Care Transportation, $25,000

    Payee services, $30,000

Women in Safe Home, providing a more energy efficient shelter, $136,700

Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma, Muskogee outreach, $20,000

Muskogee Alumni Band, instruments, $30,000

Muskogee Public Schools,    One Team, One Vision, One Community, $421,000

    Rougher Regimented School, $51,500

    Rougher Outdoor Camp, $60,633

Neighbors Building Neighborhoods    , program manager and VISTA support, $70,049

    Martin Luther King Center after-school program, swimming and night hoops, $142,339

    Run for Pride, Stride by Stride, $7,500

Northeastern State University,* occupational therapy at Muskogee campus, $300,000

VENAE, Inc., Luminous Ladies, $40,000

American Red Cross — Tulsa, disaster assistance to Muskogee residents, $25,000

Central Baptist Church,free dental and vision clinic, $50,000

Christ for the World, youth outreach feeding program, $18,168

Court Appointed Special Advocates, case manager support, $20,000

Eastern Oklahoma Health Care Initiative, promoting health through education, advocacy and careers, $48,000

Free Health Clinic, Baptist free health clinic, $24,900

Hilldale Pubic Schools, Continuing the good fight of fat, $75,000

Hope Kids Outreach, Hope Kids Outreach, $11,500

Kids’ Space, child sexual abuse prevention, $39,150

    Contracted forensic interviewer, $10,800

Muskogee Wellness Initiative, City of Muskogee Wellness Initiative, $130,000

Connors State College,* Muskogee Making a Difference Scholarship, $175,000

* Multiple year grant requests or prior commitments.

Source: City of Muskogee Foundation