Permanent Endowment provides $186,000 in grants

Emily Bramhall, executive director of the Permanent Endowment, shown here at last year's ceremony, says this year, grants are being awarded, but sadly a ceremony won't be held because of the pandemic. — Lexi Pline

The Permanent Endowment of Martha’s Vineyard has announced its annual grant recipients, but this year, due to the pandemic, they are being handed out without the typical ceremony.

“For the past three years we have held a wonderful event at which the recipients are showcased. It’s really warm and inspiring, and has become a highly anticipated evening,” Emily Bramhall, executive director of the Permanent Endowment, wrote in an email. “To our great disappointment, we are not able to hold it this year.”

Still, the Permanent Endowment has awarded 23 grants, totaling more than $186,00. “While much of the focus of the requests and awards was on assisting organizations as they cope with providing services during the pandemic, there were other, more general requests to carry on existing Island programs,” according to a press release. “Continuing the successful launch in 2019 of its higher-level impact grants, this year $20,000 was awarded to FUEL Inc. to continue the all-Island student sailing program on the Shenandoah, and $16,135 to Island Grown Initiative to help retrofit a barn to expand its food storage capabilities.”

The annual grant program was created by the endowment in 1982, and has provided funding across a full spectrum of Island programs, the release states. This year there were three grantees from the arts; 12 representing broad community initiatives, including education; five environmental nonprofits; and three broadly representing the health needs of Islanders. Over just the past decade, the endowment has awarded nearly $3 million in grants to Island nonprofits that demonstrated leadership, skill, and community support. 

“This year represented a diverse slate of applicants, some initiating a new direction brought on by the tailwinds of this pandemic, others creating new programs to engage the Island’s youth as we all strive to not just survive COVID-19, but emerge stronger,” Bramhall said in the release.

“There are few things more inspiring than hearing from our community’s nonprofit leaders,” said Anne Williamson, chair of the board, in the release. “These are smart, dedicated innovators who are committed to their clients’ needs, and are always searching for ways to improve service delivery to their Island community.”

Among the grants awarded was $10,000 to the Martha’s Vineyard Cancer Support Group, an all-volunteer organization which provides temporary and emergency assistance to about 50 Islanders each year receiving necessary treatment off-Island. 

FUEL (the Foundation for Underway Experiential Learning) was the recipient of a $20,000 impact grant, which will enable the organization to restart and refine the sailing program on Shenandoah that Island schoolchildren have participated in for decades.

The $16,135 impact grant to Island Grown Initiative (IGI) will create a safe and fresh storage area at its Farm Hub at Thimble Farm to store the roughly 93,000 pounds of fall and winter produce grown at the greenhouse and in the fields. IGI will earmark half the increased produce production to low-income Islanders, with another 40 percent made available to those who cannot pay full price for local foods.

Continuing another new initiative, the endowment has included donor-advised funds in the competitive grantmaking process. Participants this year included Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Driving the Future Fund, Wallace & Co., Sotheby’s International Realty Housing Fund, the Joy Fund, and the Kellman Family Fund. These donor-advised funds contributed $42,500 to this year’s awards. 

The annual grant program this year compliments and expands on the endowment’s Emergency Response Fund (ERF), launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, the ERF has awarded $245,000 to nonprofits responding to the economic, educational, and social impact of the pandemic. In addition, $85,000 has been given in rental relief to 48 individuals and households, and served as an important bridge for tenants who suddenly lost work, as well as Island landlords who often depend on rent for their own economic security.

In addition to the grants described above, the other 2020 grant recipients are as follows: 

Arts grants totaling $10,100 were awarded to M.V. Chamber Music Society, for virtual strings instruction for Island students; Friends of MVY Radio, to provide stipends to musicians who played at the drive-in movies; and the Yard, for dance movement programs for students, youth, and their families. 

Community grants totaling $84,110 were awarded to Big Brothers Big Sisters, to support the Island program; First Congregational Church of W.T., for its community supper program; Garden Gate Child Development, to reconfigure classrooms due to COVID-19; Good Shepherd Parish, for food for distribution; Harbor Homes M.V., to support its residents; M.V. Center for Living, for outreach to homebound elders; Red Stocking Fund, for winter clothing for 300 children; Sail MV, to support the MVRHS Maritime Studies program; Vineyard Independence Partnership, to help its participants keep connected; Vineyard Montessori, for operational support due to COVID; and Rental Relief Fund, for rental assistance for Islanders impacted by the pandemic.

Grants supporting the environment totaled $47,566, and were awarded to Biodiversity Works, to purchase binoculars and guidebooks for an afterschool birdwatching club; Island Grown Initiative, to support the Orchard outdoor classroom; Mass Audubon–Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, for its science-based educational programs; M.V. Film Festival, for its Great Ponds documentary film; and the M.V. Shellfish Group, for its Program to Adapt Shellfish Propagation to Climate Change. 

Health grants totaling $43,790 were awarded to Friends of Family Planning, to purchase quality menstrual products for distribution through the Food Pantry; and M.V. Hospital, to purchase 100 home health monitoring devices, and to assist patients with their medical costs.