$55K in Oxford grants awarded for various projects such as inclusive playground, preservation and more

The Greater Oxford Community Fund has announced finalists for its December grant cycle. Projects funded include a wheelchair-friendly playground, programs for youth development, and support for low-income families and individuals.

In total, December’s grant cycle awarded nine grants totaling just over $55,000.

Since 1996, the GOCF has awarded over $7 million in grants and scholarships to those within the Talawanda School District. Funding comes in the form of donations of cash, gifts, and marketable securities, some of which contribute to a $13 million endowment.

The Foundation’s grant cycle runs three times yearly with deadlines in April, August, and December. Once applications become final, funding decisions are announced within one to two months.

Betsy Hope, the Executive Director of the Greater Oxford Community Foundation, said this grant cycle was competitive, which she felt reflected the Greater Oxford area’s leadership ability.

“The people here and the leadership in Oxford are very compassionate and concerned with really all the residents and what’s happening,” Hope said. “They do get involved.”

Three Valley Conservation Trust, a program that aims to conserve national habitats, waterways, and agricultural lands in Southwestern Ohio was awarded $17,134 in preservation support. Their grant was the highest funded this cycle.

The second highest donation was a $15,000 grant to Oxford Parks & Recreations in support of an ADA-friendly playground.

Casey Wooddell, Director of Oxford Park and Recreation, said the project is inspired by a local family whose daughter is a wheelchair user and is unable to use most of the city’s playground equipment.

“Most of the city playgrounds are considered technically ADA-compliant, but the family was right, there weren’t inclusive features to the playground,” Wooddell said. “...So we started exploring some ideas.”

After meetings with multiple contractors, the “ADA-whirl” as Woddell called it, was selected.

“It’s an accessible piece that a wheelchair user can get on with their wheelchair, and then it’s kind of like a merry-go-round,” Wooddell said. “It’s surface level, so anyone can get on it.”

The whirl will be accompanied by new artificial turf that is also ADA-compliant and wheelchair friendly. Multiple different options are still being explored, with a final product expected to be installed by the end of this year.

“One of the ideas is a scavenger hunt, another I like involves musical drums or some sort of musical keyboard,” Woodell said. “So there’s a mixture of music instruments and activity panels that are all considered wheelchair friendly.”

Overall, Woddell said the project would cost around $150,000 in total. After an additional $46,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the city of Oxford will be left to pay the remaining $61,000.

Another $5,000 is being given to MEDLIFE Miami, a student organization at Miami University’s campus. Globally, MEDLIFE is a nonprofit organization based out of Lima, Peru, with University chapters appearing around the world. The organization seeks to help low-income families improve access to medicine, education, and development.

The $5,000 grant will go towards MEDLIFE Miami’s partnership with Pack Away Hunger, a food-based organization based out of Indianapolis that helps to distribute meals to food banks.

Abby Green, a Miami University senior and service and internal affairs chair within the club said the grant helped to assemble 100 meals for Miami University’s student food bank, with an additional 10,700 going to Shared Harvest in Fairfield.

“We really wanted to focus on giving back to the community we live in,” Green said.

Talawanda Middle School received three grants totaling over $6,700 this cycle. A $1765 grant was given for the Finch Robots & Blinky Robots Projects, which aim to teach students coding and programming. A $450 grant for tools to help with cardboard constructions and a $4,500 grant to help fund Talawanda’s student Washington D.C. trip were also given.

Indian Ridge received $4,000 for the Building Game Changers program under First Tee, which aims to teach youth character development through golf.

A $5,000 donation was awarded to Friends of Neighbors in Need for its BackPack program, which provides low-income families and individuals with vitamin-fortified non-perishable food items.

A $3,000 grant for the National Inventors Hall of Fame to help operate Camp Invention in Oxford was also given.

Other GOCF grants

Preservation Support, Three Valley Conservation Trust - $17,134

Backpack Program, Friends of Neighbors in Need - $5,000

Washington DC Trip, Talawanda Middle School - $4,500

Building Game Changers Indian Ridge, First Tee of Greater Cincinnati - $4,000

Camp Invention, National Inventors Hall of Fame - $3,000

Finch Robots & Blinky Robots Projects, Talawanda Middle School - $1,765.60

Tools for Cardboard Construction, Talawanda Middle School - $450

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