With awards of up to $10,000, the Impact Grant is the Community Investments Program’s largest and most competitive grant. Impact Grant Lodges understand a problem in their community, imagine a unique solution, and muster the volunteer power to execute it. This year, 165 Lodges submitted Impact Intents—the first step in the application process—to pitch their project ideas. Of those, 46 were selected to submit full applications. Twelve of the 46 received grants.
Although each community faces unique problems, common project themes among this year’s Impact Grant class illustrate that some issues persist across state lines. Four Lodges will emphasize educational resources, four Lodges will focus on improving mental health, and two Lodges aim to increase housing accessibility.
For people experiencing homelessness, educational opportunities and resources can be slim. Statesville, N.C., Lodge No. 1823 plans to meet more than one need by maintaining a community garden, food pantry, and clothing closet, and offering a variety of classes such as cooking, budgeting, and career building to individuals experiencing homelessness. In a similar fashion, through a partnership with the Littlejohn Community Center, Pendleton, S.C., Lodge No. 2861 will offer teens involved in the Medicaid Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Services program parenting classes, tutoring, personal development resources, and opportunities to foster relationships with healthcare professionals.
Safety education and implementation are the focus of Blue Springs, Mo., Lodge No. 2509, which will provide CPR classes and install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the community. Putnam, Conn., Lodge No. 574 will go beyond its holiday food basket initiative and use its Impact Grant to provide necessities and food packages that will include healthy recipes.
Mental health is as important as physical health to a person’s well-being, and four Lodges in the 2023 Impact Grant class strive to improve mental health in their communities. Portsmouth, N.H., Lodge No. 97 and Galena, Ill., Lodge No. 882 hope to decrease isolation and improve mental health in their communities by providing opportunities for fellowship. The Portsmouth Lodge will offer outings and community engagement to sailors at the local naval base, while the Galena Lodge will facilitate weekly enrichment activities, such as swimming and bowling, for adults with developmental disabilities.
Rensselaer, N.Y., Lodge No. 2073 and Cocoa, Fla., Lodge No. 1532 are both using their Impact Grants to assist with trauma recovery and aid individuals with PTSD. The Rensselaer Lodge plans to take advantage of its riverside location by offering activities on the water, access to a therapist, and weekly check-ins for local veterans. And the Cocoa Lodge will provide art therapy and nourishment to veterans living with PTSD and individuals recovering from traumatic events.
Two Lodges have chosen to focus on their communities’ need for improved living conditions. In addition to providing care packages to veterans living below the poverty line, Huntingdon, Pa., Lodge No. 976 will fashion ramps for veterans in its community that need more accessible home entry. Similarly, Hattiesburg, Miss., Lodge No. 599 will provide home modifications such as wheelchair ramps, accessible furniture, and widened doorways for community members with disabilities.
Arizona’s summer months average daily highs between 104 and 106 degrees, posing a risk of heat stroke. Casa Grande Valley, Ariz., Lodge No. 1957 will use its Impact Grant to provide cooling stations, information, and heat relief kits to individuals experiencing homelessness in the Arizona heat.
Last—but certainly not least—Lynnwood, Wash., Lodge No. 2171 is founding the Lynnwood Elks Early Childhood Resource Center to support families living below the poverty line with children under the age of five. In partnering with Washington Kids in Transition—which supports kids from kindergarten through high school—the Lynnwood Lodge recognized that there were more resources for older children. Thus, the Lodge will distribute important baby and toddler necessities like diapers, formula and strollers.
To the Hattiesburg Lodge for being the first Lodge in Mississippi to receive an Impact Grant, to the Pendleton and Blue Springs Lodges for receiving a second Impact Grant, and to all the Impact Grant recipients for their great ideas, big hearts, and giving hands—congratulations! The ENF can’t wait to support you as you support others.
The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities in significant and ongoing ways by awarding Impact Grants of up to $10,000. To find out more about Impact Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit enf.elks.org/ImpactGrants.