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Lynchburg Grows, Academy Center of the Arts to receive $100K, $50K grants

FILE - Downtown Lynchburg, Virginia. (Credit: Canva Pro/WSET)
FILE - Downtown Lynchburg, Virginia. (Credit: Canva Pro/WSET)
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The 2023 winners of the annual $100,000 Century Fund and one-time $50,000 Fifty Fund have been announced by the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation (GLCF).

This year, the $100K is going to Lynchburg Grows, while $50K is headed to the Academy Center of the Arts.

On June 16, the GLCF announced the winners. For Lynchburg Grows, the funds will help evolve a vacant historic building into a multi-purpose space. Community education and engagement will be core of the new space's purpose, but the GLCF committee commended them for something else.

"The selection committee lauded Lynchburg Grow’s work in providing job opportunities for disabled community members and ensuring access to healthy, locally-grown food for low-income and food-insecure families in Lynchburg and surrounding counties," GLCF said.

The executive director of Lynchburg Grows, Shelley Blades, offered words of gratitude for the impact the grant will have on Lynchburg Grows, and by extension the community.

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"We are so honored to be this year’s recipient of the Century Fund. This generous grant will help us toward finishing the renovation of our historic shed," Blades said. "The newly renovated shed will enable us to teach nutrition classes, host workshops, and create space for students to experiment in the kitchen with veggies they harvested from the farm. Thank you to the GLCF for believing in our work in such a big way!”

37 nonprofits applied for the Century fund, and Lynchburg Grows was chosen as the winner from among the other finalists: Bower Center for the Arts, Campbell County Training School Complex, Mary Bethune Academy and Park View Community Mission.

For the one-time $50K "Fifty Fund," the Academy Center of the Arts was chosen to support a new program called "Opening Minds through Art."

"The ACOA will soon offer this national, best-practice therapeutic intervention designed by Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio that promotes independence, social engagement, and self-expression among people with dementia," GLCF said.

“The greater Lynchburg community has a total of 11 memory care facilities with close to 1,000 occupants. The Academy will be the first organization in the region to provide this service to the area’s assisted living and memory care facilities, and is also our first foray into offering a therapeutic art program,” said Academy Center of the Arts Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Kershner.

The Fifty Fund grant is a one-time award in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of GLCF, and the foundation is excited to award both grants to promote important work in the community. The total of $150K in the grants is a part of the nearly $31 million that GLCF has made to nonprofits in the area since 1972.

“We are thrilled to be able to award these substantial grants for such exciting projects. All of the nonprofit applicants are doing important work in our community, so it was a challenge to choose the recipients. In the end, Lynchburg Grows and the Academy Center of the Arts rose to the top because of the transformational nature of their projects," GLCF President & CEO Kathryn Yarzebinski said.

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