MVYouth, a fledgling charitable organization geared toward investing in Island youngsters, awarded large expansion grants to two Vineyard nonprofits Tuesday night at a ceremony at the West Tisbury Library. Martha’s Vineyard Little League received $177,810 to finish construction of two baseball fields off Pennsylvania Avenue in Oak Bluffs, and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) received $620,780 to build a facility to house an Island-Wide Youth Collaborative Center at its Oak Bluffs campus.
Both organizations rose to the top of the group of 15 applicants to win the grants. MVYouth’s advisory committee started sifting through the grant applications on Nov. 15. “Using an evaluation tool that we developed, we assessed all the applicants based on leadership, plan, finances, impact, collaboration, sustainability, and readiness,” MVYouth Executive Director Lindsey Scott said at the ceremony, “and we used those criteria to judge how fundable the proposals were.”
In deciding the worthiness of a recipient, the “readiness” element was a priority for the advisory committee, which did not want the funds it donated to be bogged down as an organization sought additional funds.
“The money would be the last money in,” trustee and advisory committee chair Ron Rappaport said at the ceremony. “In other words, this would be money that would allow a project to go forward and would not be seed money for another round of fundraising.”
Since its founding by seasonal residents Daniel Stanton and Jim Swartz last April, MVYouth has raised $4,600,000 from a pool of 46 donors. According to a recent MVYouth press release, $1,000,000 of that will be disbursed each year over the next four years to other organizations serving the Vineyard’s youth.
Such a small number of donors giving so much money so swiftly astounded Mr. Rappaport.
“I actually haven’t seen anything like it,” he told the audience.
MVCS Executive Director Julie Fay gratefully received the oversize $620,780 ceremonial check on behalf of her organization. She said the funds will enable MVCS to begin construction of a modular building within months.
“We expect to break ground May 1, and be in there for October,” she said.
Phil Regan, MVRHS’s former baseball coach, happily accepted the oversize $177,810 check on behalf of Martha’s Vineyard Little League.
“This very generous gesture allows us to complete this project immediately rather than carry on for another five or 10 years trying to do it with a tin cup,” he said, referring to not having to hunt around for more donations. He said he expects the new baseball diamonds, one of which is designed to official Little League Baseball specs, to be ready for baseball this spring.
For applicants unsuccessful in landing MVYouth funding this year, Mr. Rappaport offered advice: “We say to those other organizations who are not getting awards tonight, come back next year,” he said, “come back the year after, come back the year after [that], because we’re going to be giving away eight or nine hundred thousand dollars in subsequent years.”