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Sonora Area Foundations Award Winners

A mentoring program for junior high students and a theater expansion project are among several projects that have won support this fall from the Sonora Area Foundation.

The Friday Night Live-Mentoring program (FNL Mentoring), a successful two-year-old program that pairs high school student volunteers with junior high students for leadership and guidance, received a $14,740 grant to support and expand its activities. FNL Mentoring is administered by the Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency (A-TCAA) as part of the larger Friday Night Live organization that involves kids in a growing number of drug-free activities at schools throughout Tuolumne County.

The Foundation grant will allow organizers and youth volunteers to expand the program to additional schools and offer additional activities for the mentors and their protégés. The program is now active at nine of the county’s 12 public elementary school sites, and the plan is to offer it at every junior high and elementary campus.

The Foundation has also awarded a matching $7,500 grant for Sierra Repertory Theatre’s costume shop expansion project. The nonprofit theater is in the process of converting an adjacent warehouse into an expanded costume shop and storage to ease a critical space crunch. SRT, now in its 23rd season, has been working out of the same 500-square-foot costume shop for more than a dozen years. In that time, the theater has added staff and more than doubled its audience and the number of shows it produces.

“This is a huge project for us, and it has to be done on a tight time frame,” said SRT Development Director Amy Nilson. “We´re getting generous in-kind donations and discounts from area businesses, and the Foundation’s matching cash grant is really going to help us get off to a fast start.”

Here are other recent Foundation awards:

Mother Lode Fair – A livestock education program that helps kids track the health and quality of animals raised for the fair’s annual Junior Livestock Auction received a $4,500 matching grant. Funds were used to purchase a digital camera, computer and other equipment for tracking of growth measurements, animal quality, and health of the livestock in the months leading up to the fair.

Anti-drug Education – Tuolumne County’s School/Law Enforcement Partnership will produce a short video about “club drugs” to educate students, parents and community groups. The Foundation granted $1,500 to the video production, including a $600 grant from the Jim and Louise Angelo Fund.

Jamestown playground – Jamestown Elementary School is rebuilding its playground to meet state safety requirements, and received a $9,423 Foundation grant to help complete the project.Community and parent and teacher fund raising events have raised more than $4,000, the district and school site council have allocated more than $50,000 and the Sierra Conservation Center contributed $4,500 in in-kind services.

Sonora playground – Sonora Elementary School is rebuilding its playground as well, and received an $8,000 Foundation grant to complete its projects. The district and its parent club have allotted nearly $60,000 to the improvements.

Arts Reach to Schools – The award-winning Arts Reach to Schools program, administered by the Central Sierra Arts to bring artists to area schools, received a $5,000 Foundation grant.The successful program has won state awards and in the last two years nearly doubled the number of artists presenting special programs in Tuolumne County schools.

Children’s recreation – Children receiving Tuolumne County mental health services were provided with a summer recreation program this year. The Foundation provided $2,500 to the program, which allowed the staff of the Tuolumne County Behavior Health Services to offer arts activities, swimming, roller skating, and other field trips and activities.

Library contest – To continue support of the Tuolumne County Library’s new bookmobile, directors agreed to contribute $250 to a contest to name the bookmobile. That contest is complete, with “World of Wonder”, the winning name.

President’s awards – Continuing a tradition, Foundation´s Past President Bill Coffill was presented the opportunity to allocate $2,000 in grants to organizations of his choice upon the expiration of his Presidency. He requested the funds be allocated among three deserving groups: $750 to the Comfort Project, a volunteer group that sews quilts for children and elders in need; $750 to TuCare for its “Tours For Kids” education program on natural resources; $500 to Pinecrest Elementary School for a playground replacement project.