MVYouth provides $750,000 in grants

Sail MV was one of two organizations awarded grants by MVYouth. — Courtesy MVYouth

A Chilmark-based foundation has awarded two grants totaling $750,000 that will serve the Island’s youth.

MVYouth awarded expansion grants of $450,000 to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services and $300,000 to Sail Martha’s Vineyard. In its first nine years, MVYouth has invested more than $14 million in grants to youth-serving organizations and educational scholarships for high school seniors and young adults, according to a press release.

M.V. Community Services was awarded $450,000 to support a family childcare capital needs project, an initiative that will support nine home-based childcare providers over the next five years to open new childcare programs, the release states. 

A 2019 report by Boston-based consultant Sally Sharpe Lehman identified access to high-quality, affordable early education and care as a central issue facing year-round Vineyard families. In MVYouth’s first nine years, it has awarded five expansion grants to organizations operating early childcare programs — investing a total of $2.6 million that has created 81 new licensed childcare spaces on M.V., with an additional 54 spaces projected as a result of this year’s family childcare expansion funding. “The pandemic revealed for our nation and especially for our Island community that early education and care are essential services that families rely on to work, and employers depend on to operate sustainable businesses. This proposal is an innovative approach to increasing the number of available spaces, further professionalizing the childcare field, ensuring a high standard of care for children, and supporting local entrepreneurs with capital dollars. MVCS brings its robust administrative capacity to address yet another unmet community need,” Lindsey Scott, MVYouth executive director, said in the release.

Citing the dearth of licensed childcare spaces on the Island, the Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship awarded MVCS a grant in 2020 to fund a family childcare network coordinator. Joanne Lambert, a retired home-based provider with 24 years of experience operating a family childcare program on M.V., was hired in 2019 by MVCS to expand and support the network of home-based providers. 

Meanwhile, Sail MV is expected to use its grant to upgrade its fleet and make other operational changes in order to expand access for participants with disabilities and increase participation and retention of Island youth, the release states. Sail MV’s proposal describes how supporting the organization’s capital needs will enable them to redirect annual fundraising to expand access for disabled participants, experiment with offering all of their programs to Island youth free of charge, and offer more competitive wages in order to attract more experienced Island instructors. With new equipment, a more professional staff, and free programs, Sail MV projects that it will engage and retain increased numbers of Island youth participants.

“Sail MV’s programs connect Island youth to a vital part of our community identity. Their sailing programs, maritime studies program, high school sailing team, and Coast Guard licensing course provide young people with the skills and education to pursue careers on the water that many kids would not otherwise have access to,” Scott said in the release.

For 30 years, Sail MV has offered youth sailing programs at the Oak Bluffs Sailing Camp off Barnes Road on Lagoon Pond. The organization was established to address an observation that “too many Island children lacked access to on-the-water experiences.” Sail MV refers to themselves as “the people’s yacht club.” The organization estimates that they annually serve 425 Island youth, roughly 74 percent of the 575 total youth they annually serve, according to the press release.

The recipients were selected by MVYouth’s advisory board, which evaluates leadership, plan, finances, impact, collaboration, sustainability, and readiness, according to the press release. The advisory board makes funding recommendations to MVYouth’s board of trustees, who provide final approval for all funding decisions.