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Making Life Great Grants June and September 2020

Great Western Bank recently awarded another round of Making Life Great grants to worthy non-profit organizations within our nine-state footprint. Read what our recipients had to say about creating solutions for stronger communities.

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United Way of Greater Yankton

On October 1st United Way of Greater Yankton was presented with a $8,0000 Making Life Great Grant. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way of Greater Yankton has established the Greater Yankton COVID-19 Community Response & Recovery Fund, a disaster fund to help local nonprofit organizations responding to residents’ immediate and long term needs due to the pandemic.

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Bridges to Hope of Lincoln

Bridges to Hope is extremely grateful for the generous $8,000 grant we received from Great Western Bank! These funds will allow us to provide 222 men and women, who are recently released from incarceration, with items necessary to start over. Items such as underclothes, personal hygiene products and household products like laundry detergent and dish soap. These men and women have so many obstacles to face upon release that this will be one less thing for them to worry about.

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Children’s Scholarship Fund of Omaha

Thanks to generous donors like Great Western Bank, Children’s Scholarship Fund provides more private school K-8th grade scholarships for more children than any other organization in Nebraska. Nearly 1,500 children from 74 schools throughout the Omaha metro and Northeast Nebraska will receive scholarships valued at $2.3 million. Which means more opportunities for a better life. In fact, our scholarship kids have a consistent 99% high school graduation rate which is significantly higher than the Nebraska state graduate rate of 89% and the OPS graduation rate of 78.1%. This is important, because high school graduation is a benchmark determiner in a person’s likelihood of higher employment. The ultimate goal for Children’s Scholarship Fund is to help children become productive, contributing citizens. Choosing the right education for a child is an important step towards that goal. Thank you for giving parents a choice, and children a chance.

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Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver

Great Western Bank is proud to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver to ensure that low-income families experiencing job insecurity as a result of COVID-19 are able to remain in their homes. During the current crisis approximately 70 Habitat homeowners have requested a mortgage deferral and, while there is a payment deferral program in place, property taxes and homeowners insurance will continue to accrue. Support from Great Western Bank will be used to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance on behalf of these 70 families.

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The Food Bank: Buddy Pack Program of Milan, MO

Across our service area, over 50 percent of children are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals. While these school meals help ensure that children receive adequate nutrition during the school week, this often leaves a gap over the weekend when low-income children may have little or no food to eat.
The Buddy Pack program helps to fill this gap by providing supplemental weekend meals directly to children that have been identified by a teacher, nurse or other school staff member as being in need of extra assistance. Each Buddy Pack contains two breakfasts and two entrees, as well as snacks. This consists of items such as canned ravioli, cereal, granola, canned fruit, raisins and shelf-stable milk. By providing a consistent source of weekend nutrition, the Buddy Pack program ensures that children’s basic needs are met and they return to school on Monday ready to learn.

Buddy Packs cost $5.00 each or $180.00 per child for an entire school year. Due to our ability to leverage funds, The Food Bank has been able to maintain this cost for several years. In order to ensure consistency, The Food Bank purchases the majority of Buddy Pack items as opposed to relying on food donations. If Buddy Pack items were obtained mainly through food donations, we could not guarantee we would receive enough food items to distribute a weekly Buddy Pack to each participating child. Additionally, the consistency of each pack would be compromised and one child might receive a more desirable product than another. By purchasing staple items for Buddy Packs, we are able to ensure that each child consistently receives an equitable, nutritious Buddy Pack. However, this means that the Buddy Pack program is our most expensive program to operate.

In 2019-2020, The Food Bank partnered with three schools in Sullivan County: Green City Elementary, Milan C-2 Elementary and Newton-Harris Elementary. In 2019-2020, we distributed 2,600 Buddy Packs at these three schools. Our distribution of Buddy Packs was disrupted in Mid-March this year due to school closings related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Green City distributed all the way to the first week of May. The first week of May was their last distribution, but they sent out a 4-week supply all at once, which covered the whole month. Milan ended distributions when schools closed in mid-March and Newtown Harris distributed until the end of April and distributed extra week’s supply throughout April that would supply participants through mid-May.

Great Western grant funds will be restricted to Sullivan County, and all funds will go directly to purchasing food items such as peanut butter, canned fruit, cereal and premade soups to be placed in Buddy Packs. A grant of $5,000 will provide 1,000 Buddy Packs to Sullivan County Schools.

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Habitat for Humanity of Omaha

Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, NE was extremely thankful for being a recipient of a Making Life Great Grant in the amount of $10,000 on September 17, 2020! The funds will be used to further their mission to provide affordable housing in Omaha and the surrounding areas. GWB has a long and proud relationship with Habitat for Humanity of Omaha who, in 2019, was able to help 56 families purchase their first home along with 160 home repairs and improvements for those in need.

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South Central Iowa Community Action Program (SCICAP)

SCICAP has local food pantries which are located in Clarke, Decatur, and Wayne County outreach offices. The grant funds are directed toward these food pantries to help them support the needs of these communities.

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The People’s City Mission of Lincoln

The People’s City Mission, along with everyone else, has been impacted by COVID-19. In order to help prevent a large outbreak at the Mission, the City of Lincoln and the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department have been working with us to promote social distancing, among other things. One of the ways we have been social distancing is by separating out the guests so that no one shelter is at capacity. This involved moving the majority of our families to a motel in early April so that they would all have their own living spaces, including kitchenettes and bathrooms. The men’s shelter was separated out into two full service locations. The biggest challenge with maintaining the two locations is the ability to get the guys back and forth from the second location to the main shelter in order to make appointments, job and apartment search, and make much needed medical and mental health appointments. The Mission has decided a good used shuttle bus was needed in order to keep things running as smoothly as possible for all the guests impacted. The opportunity to apply for a grant from Great Western Bank came at the ideal moment as should we be awarded grant monies, it would help to make getting a good shuttle bus a reality. We are extremely blessed and thankful that Great Western Bank felt our need was a worthy one and awarded us a $10,000 grant. Our Facilities and Maintenance Director, and Men’s Shelter Director will be “vehicle shopping” in the very near future.

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CUES of Nebraska and Western Iowa

On September 24, 2020 CUES was presented with a $5,000 Making Life Great Grant. The closure of their schools during the pandemic highlighted the "digital divide" between those who have access to learning via internet and those who do not. 91% of the families CUES serves are classified as low income and cannot afford internet connectivity. It is essential for the students to have access to online learning as their schools utilize a hybrid learning model (a combination of in class and remote learning). This grant will help provide internet connectivity to families in critical need.

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