Private Grant Funding Makes Big Impacts in Small Towns

(BPT) - In the wake of many global changes post-pandemic, most communities are facing changed populations and economies and new, unexpected challenges.

Funding gaps have put important community projects on hold and nonprofits struggle to balance financial strain while demand grows. There's no easy solution, but some are finding relief from unexpected sources - private companies dedicated to investing in America.

Twofold challenges

The pandemic brought sudden change to communities of all sizes across the country. Hardest-hit were small and rural communities but all experienced shifted budgets to combat COVID-19 and related issues. Meanwhile, more people decided to leave cities for suburbs and rural areas due to the growth in remote work, increasing populations and demand on local resources.

At the same time, communities continue to be tasked with doing more with less and are striving to find innovative ways to bridge funding gaps so their residents - both new and existing - can thrive. Fortunately, some private companies with ties to rural communities are stepping up and showing they care about more than business by helping fund a variety of needs.

"Our local Kubota dealers are uniquely connected to the communities they serve and are keenly aware of local challenges people face. They aren't just serving customers, they are helping friends, family and neighbors. It's important for us to bridge funding and resources to our local dealers so they can make a difference in their community in ways that matter most," said Todd Stucke, Kubota North America, and Kubota Tractor Corporation's Senior Vice President.

Bridging funding gaps

Projects put on hold. Programs cut indefinitely. Nonprofit organizations continue to face increased demand without increased budget as a result of funding gaps.

One example of a rural organization making a difference despite challenges is Homesteads for Hope, a 55-acre community farm located along the Historic Erie Canal in Rochester, New York. The nonprofit is an inclusive community farm for individuals with and without disabilities to learn, work, live and grow in nature's classroom.

While many nonprofits in the special needs community did not survive the pandemic, Homesteads grew over the last few years and needed to take in people who had nowhere else to go. This growth required increased funding for expansion and the organization decided to look at financial awards from private national companies with local relationships.

Funding from unlikely sources

That's right, private companies are coming to the rescue for many in the form of private grants and charitable giving.

Homesteads for Hope, for example, applied for the 2022 Kubota Hometown Proud™ grant and received $100,000 in funding which will be used to expand their Social Garden Program for those with more challenging needs and mobility-based disabilities; double their 80-plot community garden and the program's impact; and renovate the estate home with new doors and windows to weatherproof the main program spaces for year-round use.

This project was also awarded the 2022 Kubota Community Choice Award, which is an additional grant that will enable the organization to finish the renovation of their 18th century historic barns. Together, the funding from Kubota will allow Homesteads to triple the number of people they serve and move closer toward their goal of creating an inclusive housing village, which will give 250-300 people of all abilities a place to call home. So, even though some of the communities they help might be 'small,' there is nothing small about the impact of these private grants.

Continue the momentum in 2023

Need continues to grow in many rural communities, and private companies like Kubota can use their local ties to make a big impact and strengthen the fabric that makes small towns and rural counties so special. In fact, the company recently announced the third year of the Kubota Hometown Proud community grant program, which invests five $100,000 grants (with the Community Choice Award, a total of $600,000) to help local organizations make an impact in their own communities and not only survive but thrive.

"We are grateful for the important part our iconic Kubota equipment plays in farming and food production, in building and maintaining our communities, and in enhancing our overall way of life," said Stucke. "We continue to build out our network, invest in our dealers, equipment and our employees, while also giving back to America's small towns to share our thanks for allowing us to be part of our customers' lives, doing more to grow together for today and well beyond."

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