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Organizations need votes for grants

Four nonprofit organizations in the Hampton Roads region are in the running for a $20,000 grant from the Wawa Foundation Inc.’s Virginia Hero Awards for its 20-year “Wawaversary.”

Communities in Schools of Hampton Roads, Hero Kids Foundation, Real People Educating Others and the Boys and Girls Club of the Virginia Peninsula are the four finalists for the region.

One of the groups will be awarded the $20,000 grant, and the remaining three will be awarded $5,000.

The finalists had to submit a short story and a video to show what impact their organizations had on the community, and they were chosen to be in the top four because they assist others and build stronger communities through mentoring and inspiring youth.

Communities in Schools of Hampton Roads currently has a site coordinator at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School. The organization plans to use the grant, no matter which one, to provide additional funds for its site coordinator’s salary.

“We are working at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School, and we don’t have a full salary to keep them there the full year,” said Executive Director Hope Sinclair. “The grant would go to their salary.”

Communities in Schools is a national dropout prevention organization that is currently affiliated with 12 schools in Hampton Roads. They case-manage 10 percent of the student body at their schools.

“We break down barriers that prevent them from getting to school on time, learning efficiently and any poor behaviors they have to overcome,” Sinclair said. “We track and monitor their grades, attendance and behavior.”

They use the data to connect the students to programs and resources for the students as well as their families.

The Boys and Girls Club doesn’t have a specific line item in mind for the grant money, but it plans to use the funds to continue the programs it offers.

“Any money we receive, we will put it back into the programs for our kids,” Chief Development Officer Michele Benson said. “When we applied, we had to write about what a hero meant to our organization, and we said that the word hero inspires the image of a child.”

While the Wawa Foundation chose the finalists, it hopes that the Virginia public will help choose a winner for the $20,000 grant. Voting is open until Dec. 4 on the foundation’s website, www.thewawafoundation.org.