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NBC 4 Awards Grants to Five Local Organizations

Karisse Carmack | 9/1/2010, 3:34 p.m.
Local television station WRC-TV Channel 4 awarded a total of $100,000 in grants, via its...
The Northwest-based District chapter of EnvironMentors encourages high school students to pursue an education and career in environmental science. The non-profit organization recently received a grant for $25,000 during an awards presentation at NBC 4 in Northwest on Wed., Aug. 18 Courtesy Photo

Local television station WRC-TV Channel 4 awarded a total of $100,000 in grants, via its parent company's foundation, to five Washington-area organizations during a ceremony in Northwest recently.

The brief Wed., Aug. 18 presentation, held at NBC 4 on Nebraska Avenue in the network's first-floor studio, was attended by about 70 people, who gave a round of applause to City Year, Strive DC, EnvironMentors, the Patricia M. Sitar Arts Center, and EduSerc as they received grants ranging from $15,000 to $25,000.

"We're actually very excited that these funds were being recognized by NBC Universal Foundation, not only for the cash donation but it's an opportunity to get the word out about our successful Strive for Success program, and also get people involved," Strive DC's Deputy Director Michele Crosby said. In addition, Strive DC also has tutoring opportunities and a program for clothing donations, Crosby said.

Strive DC's Strive for Success program helps teens and young adults obtain GEDs. The non-profit, which is located in Northeast, will use its $15,000 grant to help 100 16 to 25 year olds accomplish this goal. Strive DC is the most recent recipient of the grant.

"[Eighty percent] of students improve by at least one grade level in math and or reading," Crosby later said in an e-mail.

The Patricia M. Sitar Arts Center of Northwest received a $20,000 grant and provides performing and visual arts classes for children in Washington's underserved communities; it has now received grants from NBC 4 for three years, said Executive Director Ed Spitzberg, and this year's award will help to fund its arts program for youth.

"We have a number of classes specifically for the teens. We also have a special program called [the] SEAL, Sitar Emerging Arts Leaders, and that in addition to delving more deeply into the specific art forms, it's also a leadership program for our teens, and not only provides them a safe place to be after school, it provides them arts training, [and] it provides them with skills that will be useful later on," Spitzberg said.

City Year, whose office in Northwest received a $25,000 grant, is an organization that provides mentors for children and youth by pairing them with volunteers between the ages of 17 to 24. Volunteers commit to one year of community service.

The organization is headquartered in Boston and also has chapters in Chicago, Little Rock, Ark., and abroad. This year marks the second time NBC 4 awarded City Year with a grant. Executive Director Jeffrey Franco said he plans to use the grant for City Year's HIV/AIDS outreach program in the District's public schools.

EnvironMentors, a non-profit in Northwest, also has chapters at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., and the University of California, Davis in Davis, Calif. The organization received a $25,000 grant from NBC Universal Foundation during an awards ceremony at NBC 4 Studios in Northwest on Wed., Aug. 18 Courtesy Photo

"We partner with an organization called Metro Teen AIDS, which trains our core members from the CDC-approved curriculum to teach in the middle schools and high schools throughout the D.C. Public School [system]," Franco said.

"It's a traveling team, and they basically, to my knowledge, they have a curriculum for HIV/AIDS in the school system, so our core members who are 17 to 24 year olds -- young people are actually teaching the curriculum to the kids they work with -- so listening to their peers is very effective in getting the message out about HIV/AIDS to the students.

This funding is directly related to helping us continue to run this program in terms of being able to travel and help core members and staff that support it. It is a vitally important service we're providing to the community and funding will help us continue it this year," Franco said.

EduSerc, short for Educators Serving the Community, is a non-profit based in Laurel, Md., which aims to educate children about future career opportunities in fields that include science, finance, and law. EduSerc's $15,000 grant will help fund a program that enables professionals to teach students about engineering.

"Our goal is to use the funding to [encourage] more students to participate in writing and enrichment activities," Executive Director Brian Smith said. EduSerc also intends to use the funding to expand the curriculum, Smith said.

The Northwest-based District chapter of EnvironMentors is part of the national chapter that encourages high school students to pursue an education and career in environmental science. According to its Web site, it joined the National Council for Science in Environment in 1992 to increase its reach within the nation's classrooms. EnvironMentors also has chapters at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., and University of California, Davis in Davis, Calif.

EnvironMentors' $25,000 grant was accepted by Akosua Dosu, the organization's national program coordinator. The award will allow EnvironMentors to expand its reach by going into high schools and teaching environmental concepts, Dosu said.

Jacklyn Shafir is the District's chapter director responsible for disbursing the grant, Dosu said. Shafir was unable to attend the ceremony.

Channel 4's money for the grants comes from the NBC Universal Foundation, its parent company's organization, which provides funding for non-profits that work with students in secondary education. The company organization's Web site said that in addition to Washington, New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas are among other cities in which respective non-profits receive funding.

Candidates cannot solicit themselves for the awards, but they must meet a set of requirements, said NBC 4 Community Affairs Director Aisha Karimah. Candidates are recommended by the news station's employees and the community advisory board; the foundation's board makes the final decision on who receives funding, she said.

"It's a very lengthy process and your overhead has to be less than 20 percent of the overall budget, and you have to be doing work geared toward secondary education," Karimah said.

After the non-profits have been awarded, Karimah said she works closely with each entity, making sure that they are reaching their goals in terms of how the funds will be used.

"NBC 4, as a station here [in Washington], this is another example of our community outreach, this is another example of how we are connected to our community, how we care about our community, so this continues our legacy, that's what this does," Karimah said.

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