The Community Foundation of the Ozarks, in partnership with Commerce Trust Company, awarded a $20,000 to Aurora Project RISE to support the Reach Independence through Support and Education project, which works to fight the cycle of poverty in the Aurora region through cohort and case management work. Grant funds will also help build a collateral fund to assist families in securing traditional loans and avoiding payday lending. The grant was presented as part of the 2019 Coover Regional Grant program on April 18 at Commerce Trust in Springfield.

Aurora Project RISE is associated with the Northwest Project, a similar program in Springfield that is developing strategies to help families overcome systematic poverty and sustain their long-term success.

“We started working with 10 families that are on the brink of poverty to educate them on budgeting, job skills, interviewing tactics and other needs,” said Theresa Pettit, an advocate for Aurora Project RISE. “Many of them have payday loans that are difficult to pay off. We have a local bank that is willing to provide low-interest loans so long as they are paid back within a year. This grant really helps by providing the required collateral.”

A total of $320,000 was awarded to three place-based education projects and 16 other organizations serving rural areas across central and southern Missouri as part of the Coover Place-Based Education and Regional Grant programs.

The grants are made possible through the generosity of the late Julia Dorothy Coover, who worked for Commerce Bank for 30 years. She established the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation in 1992 to honor her husband’s memory. Since then, the Coover Charitable Foundation has awarded about $5.7 million in grants to nonprofit agencies and rural schools across the Ozarks.

“We are honored to continue Mrs. Coover’s legacy through these grant programs,” said Commerce Trust Vice President Jill Reynolds. “Thanks to the foresight of her endowment nearly 30 years ago, more than 19 communities across central and southern Missouri will be positively impacted by these grants today.”

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks is a regional public charitable foundation established in 1973 that provides asset and resource development, grantmaking and public leadership through a network of donors, 49 affiliate foundations and some 600 nonprofit partners across central and southern Missouri.