Category: Non-Profit Spotlight

The Community Foundation’s Summit on Philanthropy

As part of our Longview Gives Back program, Longview sponsored the 8th annual Summit on Philanthropy on September 21st at the Jackson Center. The Summit on Philanthropy is the Community Foundation of Huntsville/Madison County’s annual flagship event, and Longview has had the honor of offering sponsorship since its inception.  This year’s event featured Lauren Smith, MD, MPH from Boston, MA where she serves as the Managing Director of FSG, a non-profit 501(c)3 consulting firm supporting leaders in creating large-scale, lasting social change. A hearty congratulations to this year’s Community Philanthropy Award recipients:

  • Jan Smith – Individual award winner
  • Venturi, Inc. – Corporate award winner
  • Kathy and Tony Chan/Pei-Ling Charitable Trust – Family award winner
  • Kingslea Merkel – Unsung Hero award winner

 
We also heard a very moving testimonial from Donna Scifres, a Manna House volunteer, as well as a panel discussion about the New Hope Children’s Clinic.

The Community Foundation of Huntsville/Madison County’s mission is to serve as the trustee of our community’s future, fostering philanthropy and mobilizing partners, while striving for an exceptional quality of life both today and tomorrow. The Community Foundation serves our community in several ways. They work with donors to help introduce them to the many wonderful nonprofits in the community, providing educational resources about nonprofits and how to give in a smart and effective way. They can help donors narrow their focus and create a short list of possible nonprofits to support based on the donor’s goals, interests and gifts. They also facilitate giving by hosting donor advised funds (DAFs), which are giving funds created by donors to assist in their giving goals by offering a way to receive an immediate tax deduction, yet make grants over time. Through donor participation, The Community Foundation has already raised over $18,700,000 of charitable assets and has made grants totaling over $6,600,000, most of which has stayed in the Huntsville/Madison County area.  In addition to working with donors, The Community Foundation also works with nonprofits by serving as a resource for grant making, networking and professional development.

Jessica Hovis Smith and Jeff Jones are both members of The Community Foundation’s Philanthropic Advisors Network.

Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about The Community Foundation or would like to talk about your desires to become involved or create your own giving plan. You can also learn more by visiting the Community Foundation’s Web site at communityfoundationhsv.org.

HudsonAlpha Foundation’s 2016 Tie the Ribbons Event

Longview was proud to serve as a Gold sponsor for the HudsonAlpha Foundation’s 2016 Tie the Ribbons event held on Thursday, September 22nd in the Von Braun Center North Hall.

Last year, Tie the Ribbons, which supports breast and ovarian cancer research and awareness, kicked off Information is Power, the Institute’s year-long genetic cancer risk testing initiative. The screening, which is a test for BRCA1 and BRCA2 hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer, was free for women born between October 30, 1984 and October 28, 1986, and was available for anyone age 19 and older living in Madison, Limestone, Marshall and Morgan counties for $99. Over 1400 people participated in the initiative and around 40 people discovered they have a change in their DNA related to an increased risk of cancer.

At this year’s event, Phase II was announced. Beginning October 29, 2016, Redstone Federal Credit Union is sponsoring an expansion of the Information is Power initiative which will run through October 28, 2017. During that time, all women AND men in the aforementioned five counties who are 30 years of age can receive the genetic test at no charge! Anyone age 19 or older can also complete the test for $129, which is a greatly reduced cost.

Under the leadership of Richard Myers, PhD, The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is at the forefront of breast and ovarian cancer research and genetic community cancer screening. Their team is working hard to speed the research of understanding and solving the problems of these complex cancers. HudsonAlpha connects research-driven discovery, education, genomic medicine, and entrepreneurship into a single enterprise, making it one of the most unique areas for genomic discovery in the country. HudsonAlpha has generated major discoveries that impact disease diagnosis and treatment, created intellectual property, fostered biotechnology companies and expanded the number of biosciences-literate people, many of whom will take their place among the future life sciences workforce. Additionally, HudsonAlpha has created one of the world’s first end-to-end genomic medicine programs to diagnose rare disease. Genomic research, educational outreach, clinical genomics and economic development: each of these mission areas advances the quality of life. Together, they are powerfully synergistic and represent the science of progress at HudsonAlpha.

Jessica, Whitney, & Debbie
Andrew, JJ, & Jeff

Longview Gives Back – Kids to Love

I recently had the privilege to sit down with Lee Marshall, CEO and Founder, and Dorothy Havens, Director of Workforce Development, at Kids to Love. Like many of you, I was first introduced to Lee and Kids to Love when she served as a local news anchor. Lee founded Kids to Love in 2004. Since that time, Kids to Love has had an impact on over 200,000 foster children, helping over 300 of them find “forever homes”. In 2015, Lee had the opportunity to leave her anchor position to expand her work with the foundation. Now, she focuses full-time on helping as many foster children as possible. In addition to sharing the stories of local foster children, she leads the work at the Kids to Love Center – a longtime dream turned into an impressive center for hope thanks to a generous building donation from Mr. & Mrs. Louis Breland. The Kids to Love Center is a remarkable building, beautifully designed with details that make the occupants feel special. It houses a warehouse for Christmas and school supply drives, executive boards rooms, computer and hands on learning labs, as well as educational classrooms. As stated on the Kids to Love website, they “believe education is the key to changing lives,” so they have renovated the building to best use the space to provide and encourage educational opportunities. Several educational programs are run from within the center:

Group Preparation & Selection Program (also known as GPS classes): This is an onsite, ten week curriculum for those interested in adopting or fostering children. The class walks families through what they should expect on this venture and how to prepare for their new role as an adoptive or foster family.

Momentum For Life: This is an educational series focused on providing KTECH students the basic knowledge to develop into independent adults. The program focuses on topics like nutrition, physical fitness, developing relationships, financial health, interpersonal communication, resume writing, interview skills, integrity and how to take care of their surroundings.

KTECH: This workforce initiative was created to “provide specialized workforce training and credentialing for high demand occupations to a targeted, underserved population thereby addressing the following three areas: industry’s need for skilled workers, community’s need for increased employment rates and the individual’s need to be a productive, contributing member of society.”  While serving those in foster care is a focus, the program is also available to veterans, and the community at large. 

While I was certainly impressed by all facets of the organization, I was especially intrigued by the work that is happening with the KTECH program. KTECH is one of only two Siemens Certified Centers in the state of Alabama, allowing those who finish the class to test to become a Siemens Certified Mechatronics Systems Assistant. The coursework is taught by professional engineers. They have graduated one class from the program and are currently working with their second and third classes. In the first class, 100% of the students not only finished, but passed their Siemens certification and received job offers. Dorothy Havens joined Kids to Love in 2015 to focus her efforts on the KTECH program and helping students find jobs after completion of the course. 

How To Give or Support

Kids to Love is a 501 (c)3 organization that has several opportunities to volunteer and give financially. In addition to the education programs listed above, they also need funding and volunteers for the following:

  • Bibles For Kids – An opportunity to buy a foster child a bible for $5.
  • Christmas For Kids – An annual drive for Christmas gifts for foster children. You can sponsor an entire wish list, donate individual items and money or volunteer to wrap presents.
  • Camp Hope Alabama – S weekend camp that serves to reunite foster siblings that have been separated and offer them a home-like environment with fun activities. 
  • More than a Backpack – Sn annual school supply drive. Kids to Love sends out over 5,000 backpacks full of school supplies every year to students in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi. There are opportunities to donate or host a drive.
  • Scholarships – Kids to Love honors students each year with scholarships, giving out 448 scholarships since 2005.
  • Davidson Farms – Through a generous gift from Dr. Dorothy Davidson, Kids to Love was able to purchase a 10,000 square foot home on 10 acres in Madison County. Davidson Farms is in the process of being renovated to offer a home for pre-teen and teen girls. They plan to open the doors in 2017 and need to raise $1 million before doing so. In addition to monetary donations, they are looking for donations of household furnishings, appliances, decorations, etc. There are also potential naming opportunities should you be interesting in sponsoring a room.
  • Legacy gifts: Kids to Love also works with donors on legacy gifts. If you are interested in giving through your will or another future donation, they are happy to discuss options with you.

If you are passionate about helping children and are interested in learning more about Kids to Love, their programs or ways to volunteer or give, you can visit their website here.

Longview Gives Back: Free2Teach

Free 2 Teach is a 501(c)(3) organization located in Huntsville, Alabama. They provide free resources to teachers in Madison County’s three public school systems – Huntsville City Schools, Madison City School, and Madison County Schools.  These resources are available to more than 3,800 full-time classroom teachers and their 52,000 students, improving the educational experience of area children, and strengthening the community’s future workforce. In 2015, Free 2 Teach distributed more than $600,000 of supplies and resources to teachers.

Kristin Gipner

The organization was founded by two friends, one a retired school teacher after a discussion in December 2009 during a holiday gift drive that involved school supplies. They talked about how wonderful it would be for teachers to have access to supplies needed for their classrooms. Eula Battle, current Free 2 Teach Executive Director and wife of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, was that retired school teacher. She launched Free 2 Teach out of her garage after collecting surplus and out-of-date supplies from local businesses. Today, a brick and mortar Free 2 Teach Store operates from a 10,000 square foot combined retail and warehouse space.

From their website:

“Students need supplies to learn. Teachers need tools to teach. Our community needs young people to drive our future.  Free 2 Teach is the connection point for these needs.  We connect our teachers with a multitude of resources including traditional school supplies, office supplies, math and science resources, craft items, room décor, books, furniture and more.

Free 2 Teach is committed to easing the personal financial burden of teachers.  Did you know that teachers spend between five-hundred and fifteen-hundred dollars of their own money every year to buy supplies for their students and classrooms?

Each teacher who shops at the Free 2 Teach store leaves with an average of $400 in free classroom resources.  We are grateful to be able to give back to our community’s teachers in a very tangible way.  We applaud their passion for doing this important work and look forward to supporting them as they continue to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our students and our community.”

How To Give or Support

Free2Teach offers volunteer hours throughout the week in slots of 2 hours, 3 hours, or all day. A volunteer FAQ section is included on their website. Volunteer positions include:

  • Front Desk – Greet and check in teachers
  • Restock the Store – Restock and sort inventory after the designated teacher shopping times
  • Assist Teachers and Restock
  • Check-out – Assist teachers who have completed their shopping to check out and bag their supplies

Longview’s Jeff Jones recently volunteered as part of a team from Leadership Huntsville/Madison County’s Connect 19 class.

Free 2 Teach offers a means of direct financial donation through their website via Paypal. Free 2 Teach is a 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax-deductible.

They also rely on donations of supplies to keep their inventory stocked. A full supply wish list is available on their web site, but their most needed school supplies include:

  • Crayola Colored pencils – 12 count
  • Crayola Markers- 10 count
  • Crayons – 8/16/24 count
  • Glue Sticks
  • No. 2 pencils
  • Copy paper
  • Facial Tissue
  • Paper Towels

How to Contact Them and Learn More

You can call (256) 886-7065 for more information. Their retail and warehouse is located at 3054 Leeman Ferry Road, Huntsville, AL 35801. Their mailing address is P.O. Box 1405, Huntsville, AL 35807. You can visit them online at their website or on Facebook.

Community Spotlight: Impact Alabama

As part of our Longview Gives Back planned giving program, Longview sponsored a team in Impact Alabama’s 2016 Huntsville’s Brightest Trivia competition. The event invites companies and nonprofits to sponsor a team to play team trivia to benefit Impact America with a chance to earn $10,000 for the winning team’s charity of choice. Several Longview team members and a few spouses enjoyed an evening together at the Huntsville event, hosted at the Jackson Center.

Whitney Rhyne, Jeff Jones, Kristin & Andrew Gipner, and Jessica and Craig Smith

Impact Alabama, a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 2004 by Stephan Black as Alabama’s first nonprofit dedicated to developing substantive service-learning and leadership development projects for college students and recent college graduates. It is an award-winning nonprofit which has grown from a team of five to a staff of 51 full-time college graduates who have provided more than 6,300 college students and 150 recent graduates the opportunity to participate in service projects that are designed to promote learning and leadership development.  The mission of this organization is to engage students and recent college graduates to address community needs, empowering them to promote change in their communities. 

In 2014, Impact Alabama expanded into a national organization, called Impact America, with programs currently in Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida and Philadelphia. Impact Alabama has a long list of participating universities and colleges found throughout the state:

The University of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham-Southern College, Samford University, Cumberland School of Law, Alabama A&M University, Athens State University, UA Huntsville, University of South Alabama, Spring Hill College, Auburn University, University of North Alabama, Gadsden State Community College, Calhoun Community College, Alabama State University, Auburn University at Montgomery, Huntingdon College, Jones School of Law, Judson College, Troy University, Wallace Community College, Dothan, Tuskegee University, Jacksonville State University, University of West Alabama

Their Programs (As cited on their website)

FocusFirst ensures that children in urban and rural communities receive comprehensive vision care. In 2015-2016, FocusFirst has 219 volunteers who screened 44,105 Alabama preschoolers and over 10% of them were found to have vision problems. Since 2004, the FocusFirst program has used 3,133 volunteers to offer screenings to 308,539 Alabama preschoolers.

SaveFirst works to provide families with free tax preparation services and opportunities to save. In 2016, 552 volunteers prepared 9,005 free tax returns for Alabama families which accounted for over $17.8M in refunds claimed. Since 2004, 4,401 volunteers have prepared 49,548 tax returns accounting for $91M in refunds. The estimated savings in commercially-offered tax prep fees exceeds $15.8M.

SpeakFirst challenges middle and high school students, guiding them on a path towards future excellence. In 2015, $435,000 in college scholarships was earned by 4 graduating seniors who participated in the SpeakFirst program. Since 2004, 47 participating students have earned over $4.5M in scholarships.

CollegeFirst works with high school students to strengthen concepts and prepare them for AP coursework.  In 2015, 182 high school students participated with 61 college student mentors. Since 2010, 993 high school students have worked with 389 college student mentors accounting for 51,797 hours spent in the program.

How To Give or Support

The organization offers a yearlong service and leadership program, called the Impact Corps Program, designed to place talented, committed recent college graduates directly into communities they serve. Corps Members plan and execute all initiatives that operate in their state of service as well as recruit and manage the service of college students as they participate in those initiatives.

Donations, which qualify for as a charitable contribution, can be made by check or PayPal. Learn more at http://impactamerica.com/donate/.

There are a number of volunteer opportunities found throughout the states in which Impact works. You can learn about volunteer opportunities at http://impactamerica.com/volunteer/ or email their volunteer coordinator at volunteer@impactamerica.com.

How to Contact Them and Learn More

You can also visit them online at their website or on their Facebook page. You can email them at alabama@impactamerica.com or call 205-934-0664. Their main office is located at 1901 6th Ave. N., Suite 2400, Birmingham, AL 35203.

Community Spotlight: Food Bank of North Alabama

The Food Bank of North Alabama supplies over 7 million pounds of food as well as household items to charitable feeding programs like food pantries, children’s backpack programs, and shelters that serve children, the ill, and the needy at no charge while monitoring these feeding programs to ensure food safety standards are maintained and that the food reaches the intended recipients. The organization began with a small group of volunteers in 1984 and has grown to feed over 80,000 people in North Alabama through a network of over 200 partner feeding programs. Their facility, located at 2000-B Vernon Avenue, consists of 15,000 sq. ft. of dry warehouse storage and 3,000 sq. ft. of refrigerated and frozen storage. Their service area includes the counties of Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall and Morgan.

The Food Bank’s mission is accomplished through two primary avenues:

  • Providing a conduit through which large national food donations can be channeled to local charitable feeding programs
  • Serving as a hub for the distribution of large quantities of food to a network of charitable feeding programs operating throughout the food bank’s service area.

The Food Bank receives its food through a number of contributors:

• The national food industry through its affiliation with Feeding America
• The U.S. Department of Agriculture through the State of Alabama
• Local food system participants (i.e. local growers, producers, distributors, etc.)
• Local contributions from individuals (i.e. local food drives, individual donations, etc.)
• Direct food purchases

Their Programs (As cited on their website)

Feeding Neighbors in Need:  They supply nearly 7 million pounds of food to over 200 charitable feeding programs that serve over 80,000 people in North Alabama. 

The Good Food Project: During the Food Bank’s 2014 Hunger study, they found that 70% of client households have a member with hypertension. The Food Bank has partnered with Kroger to offer food specifically designed for clients trying to prevent or alleviate diet-related diseases.

Backpack Programs:  They partner with companies, churches, and civic groups to provide two-day meal kits to students who might otherwise go without food over the weekend.  These meal kits mean that children arrive at school on Monday mornings ready to learn without the distraction of hunger.

Match the Meals Program:  This program matches funds raised for food pantries and backpack programs that serve children and their families.  Contributions to the program mean healthy bodies, academic success, and a bright future for thousands of children. 

Disaster Response: They play a vital role in responding to emergencies that impact our region, including tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes.  They supply emergency food and water directly to residents who are directly impacted by disasters.   

Store Donation Program:  They solicit food donations from over 60 local grocery stores.  Five days a week the Food Bank’s fleet of refrigerated trucks picks up donated meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and canned goods.  The program saves over 3 million pounds of food a year from going to waste in local landfills and instead feeds our region’s most vulnerable citizens at risk of hunger.

The Fresh Food Initiative: They help families access fresh foods from local farmers by promoting the use of SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) at farmers markets. For every SNAP dollar spent at a participating farmers market, they double the value up to $20. It’s a win for families trying to eat healthy on a limited budget, a win for local farmers and a win for the local economy.

The Farm Food Collaborative: They help family farmers sell local food to local schools, hospitals, workplace cafeterias and grocery stores. The program supports thriving family farms, strengthens our local economy, and makes fresh, healthy foods available to the broadest spectrum of residents. Partners include local farmers, local buyers, and support agencies. 

The Hiatt Loan Fund:  This program provides micro-loans to family farmers and entrepreneurs who create jobs and greater access to healthy food choices in underserved communities. These loans have helped small food-business owners and local job creators who might not qualify for conventional loans. The fund is operated by our non-profit partner Neighborhood Concepts.

The North Alabama Food Policy Council: Fosters education, collaboration and policy advancements to support a more locally-based, sustainable and self-reliant food system accessible to all. The Council is a grassroots, all-volunteer effort open to all residents interested supporting local food and farmers.

How To Give or Support

The Food Bank accepts donations online through their Web site via Credit/Debit card or PayPal and offers one-time as well as recurring donations. Every dollar donated can provide nearly 5 meals. Monetary gifts can also be mailed to Food Bank of North Alabama, P.O. Box 18607, Huntsville, AL 35804 or dropped off at their facility.

You can also donate non-perishable food items directly to their warehouse at The Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Center, 2000-B Vernon Ave., Huntsville, AL 35805. Their most needed foods include:

  • Canned meat or fish
  • Canned vegetables
  • Peanut butter
  • Soups, chili or stew
  • Paper products (towels & tissue)
  • Dinner kits (Hamburger Helper, rice, noodles, etc.)
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Canned fruits

You can also volunteer by hosting a food drive, inspecting and sorting food, and many more ways. For more information about how you can help, call 256-382-0296 or email communityrelations@fbofna.org. You can also visit them online at their website or on their Facebook page.

Community Spotlight – Village of Promise

Village of Promise is a Huntsville, AL non-profit organization, founded by Bobby Bradley and Gloria Batts, whose mission is to eradicate generational poverty one neighborhood at a time. Along with their collaborative partners, they provide wrap-around services from cradle to college including early childhood education, tutoring, mentoring, and much more.

Services offered (via the Village’s website):

Infant University: Four courses of a nine week program that provides tools to expectant and new parents on the care, education, and effective discipline of their infants and children up to age 4. These families are invested in raising happy and healthy children. Their children will be ready to learn and succeed when they enter school. They will have the readiness skills required for kindergarten. This program is centered on the TouchPoints curriculum developed by noted pediatrician and author Dr. T. Berry Brazelton.  Partners: Calhoun Community College, Huntsville City Schools, Huntsville Hospital, National Children’s Advocacy Center, United Way of Madison County.

Next Steps: A program for parents to continue learning about child development, community action and involvement with the whole family.  These families will socialize and learn together as we discuss topics relating to school preparation, nutrition, family time, history and community.  Partners:  Greengage School, United Cerebral Palsy, United Way of Madison County.

Before School Bible Class: Before School Bible Class is offered to children 1st through 6th grades during the school year at Montview Elementary. The Bible program is taught by talented and devoted volunteer teachers who strive to instill character and spiritual development by sharing stories and songs from the Bible. There is an emphasis on readiness to learn, behavior, and school attendance. These classes provide an environment for the creation of meaningful relationships within the home, the school, and the community. The children in this program have the opportunity to be in the Village of Promise pipeline.

Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School: An 8 week course offered for free to children from pre-kindergarten through 6th grade to children from both University Place Elementary and Montview Elementary School during the summer. Freedom School provides summer and after school enrichment that supports children and families around 5 essential components: high quality academic enrichment, parent and family involvement, civic participation, social action, intergenerational leadership development and health maintenance (both mental and physical).  Children are more motivated to read and have a much more positive outlook on learning. Their families are connected to the resources of the community. This program is in partnership with community based organizations, faith institutions, city schools, colleges and universities.  Partners: Huntsville City Schools, i3Cares, 100X Church, Trinity United Methodist Church.

Kindergarten Tutoring: A curriculum that has been designed specifically for kindergarten students with deficits in reading and math. The highly trained tutors use a variety of learning and encouragement strategies to help our students improve their reading and math skills to grade level and above.

Strings That Sing: A 13 week course of violin instruction for all second graders at University Place Elementary during the school day. In 3rd through 5th grades, the lessons are given after school. Village of Promise provides the violins and the instructor fees. This program is designed to enhance the students’ academic performance and expand their cultural experience. The course introduces our students to the musical intricacies of the violin and its power to motivate one to enjoy music for a lifetime. Partner: Huntsville Symphony Orchestra

Teachers Are Terrific!: An exciting commitment to our teachers at University Place Elementary School and Montview Elementary School.  Volunteers and professionals help the teachers in the classroom and try to assist the classroom teacher in any way possible. Meals and supplies are often provided.

Village Of Promise-Randolph School Challenge: Elementary, middle and high school students are challenged in 4 disciplines: math and oratory (elementary), debate (middle school), and entrepreneurship (high school). Students in each area compete on mixed teams in the spring after rigorous training with our volunteers twice week during the school year. Any school is welcome to compete in this event that celebrates academic excellence.

High School Scholars Program: The primary focus of the High School Success Program is to assist scholars with becoming prepared for college.   Scholars will participate in a wide range of experiences to become knowledgeable about the expectations of college and be prepared to navigate the college processes to achieve success.

Want to get involved?

You can contact Bernadette Williams at bwillliams@villagepromise.com to find out how. Here are just a few ways:

Kindergarten Tutoring – Montview Elementary School

Tutoring for this age group will be done during the school day. Training is provided prior to the beginning of tutoring.

Before School Bible Class – Montview

This program takes place Monday-Thursday during the school year from 7:15 a.m.-7:45 a.m. and serves over 100 children from first through fifth grades and on Fridays for kindergarteners.  This program serves over 100 students. Spiritual guidance and character building are major components of this program.

Village of Promise-Randolph Academic Challenge Prep

Students participate in math and oratorical competitions throughout the school year. Tutors are needed to work with students to prepare for the competition which will take place in May.  You may choose the area that you would like to mentor, math or oratory. Math competition prep includes drills and exercises for math calculations. Oratory prep includes supporting the student in writing and presenting a speech. Tuesdays and Thursdays after school from 3:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Training is provided.

Friday Read Aloud

Volunteers are invited to read to a class of children during the school year on the first and third Friday of each month.  Reading time is approximately 30 minutes.

After School Tutoring – University Place Elementary

Tutors are needed on Tuesdays and Thursdays to work with children on their math and reading skills and to provide homework help when needed. Tutoring will be conducted from 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m throughout the school year.

Want to learn more? Visit their website at villagepromise.com, call 256-536-8052, or find them on Twitter (@VillagePromise) and Facebook.

Longview Gives Back – Rocket City Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO)

The Rocket City Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) is a Huntsville and North Alabama based 501(c)3 charitable organization. Jessica Smith, Longview’s Vice President and Director of Financial Planning, currently serves on Rocket City SGO’s Board of Directors.

What is a Scholarship Granting Organization?

Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) were made possible by the Alabama Accountability Tax Act of 2013. The intent of the legislation is to allow flexibility in meeting children’s educational needs, improving education performance, encouraging innovation in meeting the needs of school systems, and providing financial assistance through Alabama income tax credits. The SGOs were created to grant scholarships to eligible students at failing public schools so they may transfer to a private school. The scholarships are provided to students who qualify based on family income requirements. Taxpayers make a contribution to the SGO. The SGO facilitates the process of connecting the student in need with the scholarship.

How does the tax credit work?

Taxpayers who make a donation to an SGO qualify for a state tax credit of 50% of their state income tax liability, up to $50,000. C corporations also qualify for a 50% credit, but there is not a maximum limit on the amount of the credit. Taxpayers may also claim the donation as a charitable contribution on their Federal tax return. For some, this is just a zero-sum game. The taxpayer receives a credit from the state, which lowers the state tax deduction by the same amount of the federal charitable deduction taken. However, for those who pay Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), it actually results in additional savings because state taxes are disallowed for the AMT calculation, while charitable contributions are not.

Let’s look at an example:

Bill and Eve have a $3,000 Alabama state tax liability for 2016. They make a contribution to a qualifying SGO of $1,500 (50% of their state income taxes). The SGO uses the donation to grant a scholarship to a qualifying student. In 2017, when Bill and Eve complete their tax returns, they claim the $1,500 contribution as an Alabama tax credit, effectively cutting their taxes in half. They also claim a $1,500 charitable contribution on their Federal Schedule A.

Alabama initially earmarked $25 million for these credits. It has since been increased to $30 million, but the credits are taken on a first come, first serve basis, subject to verification by the SGOs. If you exceed the allowable credit limit in the year the donation is made (50% of state tax), the unused part may be carried over for up to three years.

You can visit Alabama Department of Revenue’s accountability website for information about SGO’s throughout Alabama. You will also find a full list of participating schools and rules about contribution.

For more information about Rocket City SGO, visit their website at rocketsgo.org.

Longview Gives Back – HEALS, Inc.

The Longview team was fortunate to spend a morning visiting with Pam Clasgens, Development Director for Huntsville-based HEALS, Inc., as we toured their medical and dental clinic located at Martin Luther King Elementary School.

You may have heard the HEALS name in association with the annual Stars Dancing for HEALS event which takes place in November at Monaco Pictures in Bridge Street Towne Center. Stars Dancing for HEALS is one of their signature fundraising events where eight Stars from the community raise funds as they dance with local ballroom instructors in one of the most fun events in town since its inaugural dance in 2007.

HEALS, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing accessible quality, school-based primary health care for children through collaborative efforts with the Huntsville City/Madison County school systems and the medical community. By providing on-site medical and dental care, mental health counseling, and social services at participating schools, HEALS, Inc. makes an immediate difference in the lives of many children.

HEALS, Inc. provides medical care, including well-child check-ups, immunizations, school sports physicals, acute and chronic care for illness and injury, lab work and prescription medications as well as dental care, including preventive care, including cleanings, x-rays, fluoride, sealants, periodontal care, restorative care, fillings, root canals, pulpectomy, extractions, space maintenance, SS crowns, etc. But their mission doesn’t stop there; they provide social services, insurance outreach services, and health education to children and their families. They also provide each of their patients with a brand new pair of tennis shoes at their annual check-up. To learn more or find out how you may get involved in helping if you are interested, visit their Web site (www.healsinc.org) or stay up-to-date with the latest on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Healsclinics).

Longview Gives Back – Paint, Drink, & Think Pink Event

As part of our LFA Gives Back program, Longview participated in the Paint, Drink and Think Pink event at Spirited Art. It was an evening focused on Breast Cancer Awareness, learning more about the ongoing research being conducted by the HudsonAlpha Institute for BioTechnology, and simply having a fun night out with other women in our community.

Longview donated $2,500 to HudsonAlpha and sponsored the Institute’s Tie the Ribbons event. Tie the Ribbons, which supports breast and ovarian cancer research and awareness, kicked off Information is Power, the Institute’s year-long genetic cancer risk testing initiative. The screening, which is a test for BRCA1 and BRCA2 hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer, is free for women born between October 30, 1984 and October 28, 1986, and is available for anyone age 19 and older living in Madison, Limestone, Marshall and Morgan counties for $99.

Under the leadership of Richard Myers, PhD, HudsonAlpha connects research-driven discovery, education, genomic medicine, and entrepreneurship into a single enterprise, making it one of the most unique areas for genomic discovery in the country. HudsonAlpha has generated major discoveries that impact disease diagnosis and treatment, created intellectual property, fostered biotechnology companies and expanded the number of biosciences-literate people, many of whom will take their place among the future life sciences workforce. Additionally, HudsonAlpha has created one of the world’s first end-to-end genomic medicine programs to diagnose rare disease. Genomic research, educational outreach, clinical genomics and economic development: each of these mission areas advances the quality of life. Together, they are powerfully synergistic and represent the science of progress at HudsonAlpha.

Debbie, Whitney, & Jessica
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