Rays award $100,000 to local nonprofits

For more information on the Rays Baseball Foundation Community Fund Grant, visit raysbaseball.com/grants.

July 21st, 2017

-The Tampa Bay Rays have awarded a total of $100,000 to 20 local nonprofit organizations through the Rays Baseball Foundation Community Fund Grant Program, and will recognize each recipient in a pregame ceremony prior to tonight's Rays-Rangers game at 7:10 p.m.
The Rays Community Fund Grant Program provides assistance to local nonprofits in the Tampa Bay region. The $5,000 grant is awarded to help support and enhance current programs offered by community-based nonprofit organizations. To date, the Community Fund Grant Program has awarded more than 296 grants to local charities totaling more than $1.5 million.
"We are delighted each year with the number of applications we receive from so many dedicated and innovative people in our community," said Rays President Brian Auld. "Since 2008, the Rays have been honored to award nearly 300 grants through this Fund to organizations making significant, positive change for young people and families in this region."
For more information on the Rays Baseball Foundation Community Fund Grant, visit raysbaseball.com/grants.
The following 20 organizations will be supported by the Rays 2017 Community Fund Grant: 
Alpha House of Tampa
Bess the Book Bus
Best Buddies International
Centre for Women Community
Stepping Stones
Echo of Brandon
Evolution Institute
Florida Dream Center
Frameworks of Tampa Bay
Girls Incorporated of Pinellas County I Support Youth
Lighthouse Pinellas
Redlands Christian Migrant Association
Ready for Life, Inc.
St. Petersburg Free Clinic
Trinity Cafe, Inc.
United Food Bank of Plant City
University Area CDC
Wheelchairs 4 Kids
Ybor City Museum Society
2017 Rays Community Fund Grant Recipients Alpha House of Tampa offers homeless pregnant women and mothers with young children safe housing and the tools they need to become self-sufficient and effective, responsible parents. They provide a safe, temporary place to stay and assistance with housing and employment, as well as addressing the underlying issues that contributed to homelessness. They offer vision, hope and strength for a better life.
Bess the Book Bus is a Tampa-based mobile literacy outreach dedicated to narrowing the achievement gap created by poverty. They build home libraries and a love for reading in our most underserved communities across the USA by making the joy of book ownership a reality for our kids. Bess the Book Bus' volunteers and board members envision a nation where all of our children have access to the basic resources they need to be successful in school and later in life.
Best Buddies International is the world's largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The IDD community that Best Buddies serves includes, but is not limited to, people with Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X, Williams syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and other undiagnosed disabilities.
Centre for Women is a nonprofit organization offering a diverse array of programs to help women in the Tampa Bay region to succeed both personally and professionally. Their programs and services encourage, educate and empower women, such as The Women's Business Centre; Women's Leadership Programs; Employment Services; Counseling & Wellness; The Centre for Girls; Construction Services includes SHIP (Senior Home Improvement Program).
Community Stepping Stones is a nonprofit organization dedicated to using an arts-infused curriculum to inspire, educate, mentor and prepare at-risk youth to become successful adults. Community Stepping Stones is proud that it has been able to make demonstrable contribution to the environment, economics and quality of life for families in the community.
Echo of Brandon is a food pantry and clothing assistance source for residents of Eastern Hillsborough County who have experienced a recent emergency. Since its inception in 1987, ECHO FL has provided food assistance and clothing assistance to over 180,000 Brandon area residents. When families experience an unexpected emergency, they are often faced with the decision of paying bills or buying food for their families. Emergencies can come in all different forms such as a breadwinner losing a job, a person getting hurt or sick and being unable to work, employers cutting hours, and many other situations. ECHO is here to help during those stressful times.
Evolution Institute uses evolutionary science to solve real-world problems. Currently, there is no mechanism for applying current theory and research to public policy formulation. They aim to provide the mechanism. Working with their large network of advisors, they can: Identify and assemble the evolutionary expertise for virtually any topic relevant to human welfare, organize workshops, coordinate the writing of position papers, and provide advisors, and assist in the implementation of the policies that they formulate
Florida Dream Center is building and rebuilding safe, productive and endearing communities, one person at a time, to restore lives. They are committed to Restoring Dreams, Renewing Hope and Rebuilding Lives by providing services that address immediate and long-term needs in the areas of homelessness, human trafficking, hunger, poverty, addiction and community outreach. Their services include recovering and restoring sex trafficking survivors, feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, improving our community through Adopt-A-Block, addiction recovery, ministering to those imprisoned and bringing other organizations and services in the community together for a common goal.
Frameworks of Tampa Bay teaches social and emotional learning (SEL) skills: self-knowledge, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. As students learn to use these critical and foundational skills, they are less likely to engage in classroom disruptions, bullying, violence and other risky behaviors. This grant will support LifeSkills® Training (LST) in Hillsborough County Public Middle Schools with funding for teacher training and coaching support for quality implementation, curriculum and assessment.
Girls Incorporated of Pinellas County inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold. Girls Inc. provides hundreds of girls in Pinellas County with life-changing experiences and solutions to the unique challenges girls face. At Girls Inc., girls grow up healthy, educated and independent. Today, girls continue to encounter significant obstacles to their well-being and success. Girls Inc. meets these challenges by helping girls explore and celebrate their strengths, their voices, who they are today and who they will become. 
I Support Youth is a non-profit organization teaching young people all over the world how to be educated, strong and successful by providing the necessary steps to expand and become active leaders within their schools, community and churches. I Support Youth differs from typical youth organizations and programs by taking a far more active approach. They are going door to door, seeking to change the lives of young people for the better. 
Lighthouse Pinellas' mission is to advance the independence and quality of life for individuals in Pinellas County who are blind or visually impaired. Lighthouse of Pinellas is the only private, non-profit agency providing vision rehabilitation training for individuals of all ages who are residents of Pinellas County, Florida, under one roof. LHP employs a variety of speciallytrained staff certified and/or licensed in vision rehabilitation, orientation and mobility, occupational therapy, mental health counseling and speech pathology to help clients live safe, healthy lives as independently as possible.
Redlands Christian Migrant Association opens doors to opportunities through quality childcare and education from crib to high school and beyond. RCMA hopes to one day be recognized as a national role model in preparing rural low-income children for leadership in an increasingly diverse and complex world. RCMA has grown today to 71 centers in 21 Florida counties. All serve the rural poor, and most serve the children of Hispanic immigrants. Over the years, RCMA has broadened the range of its programs. Our Early Head Start centers accept infants as young as six weeks. Our after-school programs serve children ages 6 to 16.
Ready for Life, Inc. serves youth in Pinellas and Pasco Counties 15-23 years old that are in foster care or have already transitioned out and are on their own. The youth RFL serves are "put out" of the foster care system on their 18th birthday regardless of their housing situation, support system or knowing that they have what they need to be successful on their own. Ready for Life, Inc. provides support, resources and guidance former foster care youth need to transition to adulthood. They are a family-like community that serves, inspires and empowers young adults that have transitioned out of foster care (and their children) to be Ready for Life. 
St. Petersburg Free Clinic is a caring organization helping to meet basic, unserved human needs through resources, volunteers and advocacy. St. Petersburg Free Clinic provides temporary assistance for families and individuals in need of the basics of food, shelter, health care, limited financial assistance and referral information. Their programs include We Help Services, Food Bank, Community Kitchen, Health Center, Dental Program, Family Residence, Women's Residence and Beacon House.
Trinity Cafe, Inc. is a unique, non-denominational free restaurant for Tampa's homeless, hungry (food insecure) and working poor citizens. To restore dignity, guests are greeted and seated at tables set with cloth, china, silverware and flowers. A volunteer host sits at each table, listens and engages in conversation providing hope, encouragement and kindness. Weekdays a three-course, protein rich dinner is served; weekends a robust, hot breakfast with coffee. This grant will fund hot, hearty meals for a minimum of 2,500 children, women and men.
United Food Bank of Plant City's mission is to provide assistance for the needy in moving them from a "state of hunger" and "impoverishment" to self-sufficiency, empowerment and self-reliance. Their vision is to stamp-out hunger in East Hillsborough County and raise the standard of living for the truly needy. Offering opportunities for self-improvement, education, job skills and enhancing life for individuals and families; thus affecting change for the community.
University Area CDC serves the University Area Community, where high crime, poverty and a lack of basic resources has plagued the area for decades. Of those served, 95 percent are below poverty level. They work to improve the economic, educational and social levels of the community through youth programs, adult education and resource assistance. Funds provided through grants, private contributions and public appropriations help residents participate in most programs free of charge. The University Area Community Center Complex (UACCC) is a 50,000 square foot multi-purpose center that is the focal point of the community, providing critical services to thousands of residents: classrooms, community room, performance stage music art and dance studios, fitness center, gymnasium and playground.
Wheelchairs 4 Kids' plan involves so much more than providing wheelchairs for America's disabled children. Their goal is to give every child with mobility challenges the best opportunity to live life at its fullest. The need for a charity such as Wheelchairs 4 Kids became apparent to many key players in the development of this organization as they worked with various children's charities. It was not uncommon to meet a child in a wheelchair that was too small for them or that was in such disrepair that duct tape was required to hold it together. The vision is to become one of the most recognized and respected charities in America. 
Ybor City Museum Society is currently developing the Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House, which will serve as a destination and education center that celebrates more than 125 years of local baseball culture - from Little League to Major League. This grant will support the development of their educational programming and the creation of space that will be allocated to educational activities within the museum to help cultivate the next generation of baseball players, leaders and enthusiasts.