State Farm agents across the country make a difference in their communities every day. And through the State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant program, the company is helping those same communities by funding education, safety and community development projects. Each of the 40 causes in 21 states won a $25,000 grant to enact real change. Since the inception of the program eight years ago, more than 300 causes have received a total of $8 million.
This year, 200 finalists made it to the voting round, and 4.4 million votes were cast to determine the winners. Here are some program highlights.
Help for healthcare
One of the biggest obstacles to healthcare in less-populated areas is distance. Almost one-fourth of Americans define doctor and hospital access as a major community problem. And rural Americans live, on average, more than 10 miles from a hospital — a number that’s likely to increase as hospital and trauma center closures in less-populated areas continue to accelerate.
That’s certainly the case in a rural area northwest of Portland, Oregon, that includes the communities of Banks, Manning, Buxton and Timber. Residents there have access to just one automated external defibrillator, or AED, in 136 square miles at Banks Fire District #13. The closest hospital for those in need can be up to an hour away. Even though the fire district’s emergency response vehicles carry AEDs, the time it takes for them to respond to patients may mean the difference between life and death.
The State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant can help remedy this. The funds will help purchase 20 AEDs to be placed at key gathering spots — schools, for example — and help support yearly, no-charge certification classes in CPR and AED for community members. A mobile app will then provide residents with the location of an AED when a cardiac event occurs. The combination will allow critical care to begin even before emergency responders arrive.
Hungry no more
In Calvert County, Maryland, 150 businesses, churches, schools and social service and government agencies want to end hunger for 15,000 low-income people. Their coalition, End Hunger in Calvert County (EHCC), has resolved to provide 100,000 critical meals to the working poor who are simply not making enough to meet basic needs — but making too much to qualify for food assistance. They’ll be able to do that thanks to the State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant they received; those dollars plus their partnership with the Maryland Food Bank and local farmers will enable them to provide four meals for just $1.
Growing a healthier future
Surrounded by ocean and imbued with a year-round temperate climate, the residents of Honolulu, Hawaii, nonetheless have health challenges that reflect nutrition and disease obstacles facing the broader American population.
Healthier eating habits are key to preventing diabetes and obesity, and a Tower Garden farm will help generate more local produce for residents. The state-of-the-art aeroponic structure minimizes water needs and maximizes vertical space to grow more food, which will be available to residents at below-market value or made available to homeless shelters and organizations. Funding from the State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant will help make that possible and help support farm tours, events and community outreach to students on the importance of nutrition and health.
Building the basics
Programs like Akron Hope and Well CDC encourage worth, value and dignity in Akron, Ohio. In the past, they’ve focused on a variety of ways to make an impact in a community that struggles with high unemployment and low rates of graduation, household income and home ownership. That includes tutoring 100+ students yearly, providing holiday gifts and promoting parent engagement to the tune of about 1,600+ volunteer hours. Their current goal is to help the 37 percent homeless youth attend elementary school, build relationships with them, provide resources and support increased stability. The State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant will help by enabling Akron Hope to introduce a basic-needs closet for clean uniforms, underwear, toiletries and snacks; connect to healthy rental opportunities; and maintain continued tutoring and parental engagement.
For more information on each of the 40 recipients of this year’s State Farm Neighborhood Assist winners and for State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant application information, go to www.neighborhoodassist.com.