NBC 5, Telemundo Chicago and the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation on Wednesday announced a total of $225,000 in Project Innovations grants will be presented to five organizations that are using innovation to tackle everyday problems and urgent COVID-19 needs in the community. The non-profit organizations selected as Project Innovation 2020 grant recipients all exhibited flexibility with their programming and will use their funding to deliver services and programs that address the needs of those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
This year, a total of $2.475 million in Project Innovation grants have been awarded to not-profit organizations in 11 markets, including the Chicago market.
“We are honored to provide much needed funds to organizations who are making a difference in innovative ways during this difficult time,” said David Doebler, NBC 5 and Telemundo Chicago President and General Manager. “We are grateful to the grant challenge winners and all charities providing support and resources when our community needs it the most.”
Local Project Innovation 2020 grant recipients include:
Chicago HOPES for Kids - $50,000
The program provides after-school literacy support, homework help, and enrichment for children in grades K-5 who are experiencing homelessness. During the coronavirus pandemic the organization is providing essential items to partner homeless shelters and offering educational program services remotely.
CARPLS Legal Aid - $50,000
The Legal Aid Hotline Program matches low-income clients in need of legal assistance with legal aid providers. Through this service, clients speak directly with attorneys to resolve their legal issues. In addition, the organization is answering COVID-19, The CARES Act and unemployment inquiries.
The Chicago Immigrant Transit Assistance Program uses a hotline phone number to connect with immigrants recently released from ICE detention centers. Volunteer teams answer calls from individuals recently released from detention, and meet them to provide them with appropriate clothing, a bus ticket to their destination, a telephone and charging cable, as well as food and funds before they set out on their journey to reunite with their families or loved ones in the United States.
Naperville Humane Society - $50,000
The Project Pawsitive Future Pets for Vets program is an animal assisted therapy program that uses dog training as a motivator and teacher to help youth of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Center achieve their therapeutic goals. Youth trainers are paired with a dog who lives at the prison with them for 3-4 weeks. The youth adhere to a training schedule, helping construct positive management tools. Once these emotional support dogs are trained at the prison, they are paired with veterans in the community. While the shelter is closed during the coronavirus pandemic the shelter is caring for animals, finding foster homes and dealing with an influx of surrendered pets.
Neighborhood Food Pantries - $25,000
The Food Recovery Program allows Neighborhood Food Pantries to pick up fresh food and more nutritious food from local area grocers for distribution at their pantries. This program has allowed Neighborhood Food Pantries to expand its pantry network. During the pandemic the organization is leveraging strategic partnerships to augment donations and expand reach to meet the needs of the neighborhoods it serves.
Project Innovation applications opened on January 11 and closed on February 15. The Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation and NBC/Telemundo owned stations reviewed applications virtually beginning March 2020. Applications were evaluated to determine groups’ ability to advance their communities in the areas of storytelling, community engagement, culture of inclusion and youth education, as well as their preparedness and capacity to deliver quality programming that meets the pressing needs that have developed in their communities during this unprecedented time.
Project Innovation 2020 grants were presented to eligible non-profit organizations in select markets including New York (WNBC, WNJU), Southern California (KNBC, KVEA), Chicago (WMAQ, WSNS), Philadelphia (WCAU, WWSI), Dallas-Fort Worth (KXAS, KXTX), Boston (WBTS, WNEU, NECN), Hartford, CT (WVIT, WRDM), Washington, D.C. (WRC-TV, WZDC), Miami-Fort Lauderdale (WTVJ, WSCV), San Francisco Bay Area (KNTV, KSTS), and San Diego (KNSD, KUAN).