Collaborations help communities achieve their project goals
We can do great things when we work together. At Be Healthy, that’s why we love to collaborate with other funders and organizations to ensure we can all make the biggest impact for our Clay and McDowell County communities and the projects they create.
As a CDC High Obesity Program (HOP), Be Healthy directs funding toward projects that involve improving access to healthy foods and physical activity. Since 2019, we’ve aimed to support as many projects as possible.
Each project and its needs vary: Physical activity-oriented projects have previously applied for Be Healthy funding to assist with materials, construction and labor, or signage to build or develop recreational spaces. Food access projects have applied for funding for equipment needed to transport or store bulk non-perishables and produce.
But despite preparation and budgeting, some projects have encountered unexpected expenses along the way. Many construction materials, for example, have been less accessible, and therefore more costly, throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With the support of other funding organizations, more aspects of these community projects can be sponsored.
Over the last three years, Ami Cook, a Be Healthy West Virginia University Extension Agent for Clay County, has witnessed firsthand how community projects benefit from having multiple funding sources.
“Having multiple partners increases our ability to fund a project in whole,” Ami says. “It increases the total amount of funding available, but it also fills in the gaps that some funding sources have in terms of restrictions for what can be purchased with those particular grant dollars.”
Through collaborations with other regional and federal funders, community projects can take shape faster and benefit our counties and residents sooner. Ultimately, Ami says, that’s what we’re all seeking: the best opportunities for our region.
“When issues arise, as they always do, having more people and resources is key to overcoming obstacles,” Ami says.
In Clay County alone, Ami says, partner organizations and groups have included the Family Resource Network, The Clay Business Development Authority, Community Care of WV, Clay Senior and Community Services, Risen Lord Church Food Pantry, the Clay County Board of Education, the Clay County Health Department, H.E. White Elementary School, Clay County Fire Department, Lizemore Elementary School, and Deliciously Vivid.
Several groups have become multi-year project partners who apply with intentions to expand their existing project and its impact in the region. Others are seeking out a new opportunity entirely.
“Many of our mini-grant awardees are multiple-year recipients,” she added. “They see the value in doing the work they are doing and look to us as a reliable partner. Some of these partners build on the work they did in a previous year, while others have a completely different project they want to tackle the next time around.”
These funding collaborations and community connections have been — and continue to be — invaluable to the Be Healthy team, Ami says, because we’re able to make recommendations or referrals to both parties when opportunities arise.
Involvement with our organization can lead to more opportunities. In 2021, for example, Be Healthy’s funding and project involvement helped secure additional funding and collaborations with Building Resilient and Inclusive Communities (BRIC) and the Fulcrum Project, Ami says.
“They realize how crucial it is to tackle the lack of physical activity issues and food insecurity in the county and are willing to put in the work to address those issues,” Ami says. “Additionally, they recommend the WVU-ES agents, the Be Healthy team, and the mini-grants to other organizations looking for resources.”