The Erie Community Foundation is not a fundraiser. Instead we want to share the pressing issues and concerns of our community with you.
The Shaping tomorrow grant program promotes continuous improvement in the quality of life in Erie County by investing in multi-year projects that offer a high probability of transformational and sustainable community change. Shaping tomorrow grants address critical needs through collaborative endeavors with measurable outcomes. Based on data from Erie Vital Erie Vital Signs, Foundation trustees have identified the areas of and the as priorities for funding. Thanks to the generosity of the Susan Hirt Hagen Fund for Transformational Philanthropy and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, up to $4 Million will be available for Shaping tomorrow grants this year.
Erie FREE Taxes, currently in its ninth tax filing season, helps eligible low-to moderate-income individuals and families claim the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a cash refund, by providing them with free tax preparation and filing services at volunteer tax sites. For the 2014 tax year, a total of 5, 870 federal tax returns were filed through Erie FREE Taxes, and over $9.1 million in federal refund dollars were secured for local residents. 2,074 filers claimed in excess of $3.5 million in EITC refund dollars. By providing these preparation services, Erie FREE Taxes saved community tax filers an estimated $1.5M in commercial tax preparation costs and fees.
Erie's Future Fund provides scholarships for three– and four-year-olds from low-income families to attend high-quality early childhood education programs and become kindergarten-ready.
The Imagination Library is an initiative created by United Way of Erie County in collaboration with The Erie Community Foundation and other funding and community partners. Each child enrolled in the program and living in Erie County will receive one high-quality book every month, mailed directly to their home, from birth until their fifth birthday. The Imagination Library aims to provide these free, educational gifts to all children living in Erie County, so all parents, regardless of income, can promote early learning and family literacy by reading with their children. Last year, 2,943 new children enrolled in the program and over 104,000 books were mailed. More than half of all children under age five in Erie County participate in the program and currently receive books. According to its data, by the end of May 2016, the Imagination Library will have mailed 256,654 books since the program launched.
School-Based Health Center gives access to affordable health care for all by placing a doctor's office in the school. Children with no medical insurance are seen for free. School-based health centers area cost-effective investment, proven to reduce inappropriate emergency room use and hospitalization rates. The health centers also increase use of primary care doctors and improve health outcomes, which increase school attendance and ultimately, graduation rates.
Erie Summer JAMS is a partnership with Erie County Government, Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority and The Erie Community Foundation. This program serves low-income Erie County youth ranging in age from 16-21 years old. In 2015, the Erie Summer JAMS program created jobs at 42 various locations for 142 students.