New Grants to Benefit Children “Health in Aberdeen, S.D.” And Surrounding Region

Photo: Author L. Frank Baum lived in Aberdeen before he went on to write 14 books about Oz. Grants today include support for the L. Frank Baum Oz Festival.

ABERDEEN, S.D.—The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing nearly $300,000 in three organizations working to improve access to dental care and primary health care for low- and moderate-income children in Brown County.

The grantees are: Presentation College, $144,000; Foundation for Aberdeen Area Children and Service Systems Program, $130,000; and CASA of Aberdeen Fifth Judicial Circuit, $20,000.

While the grants are to individual organizations, together they are designed to address Knight Foundation’s locally recommended priority to improve the overall health of children by improving the availability of quality primary health and dental care. Over the next four years, Knight plans to invest $1 million in Brown County to achieve those goals.  

“The importance of oral health and other primary care for children is well-established. These organizations are critical to our community’s efforts to create greater access to health services for disadvantaged kids in Brown County,” said Adrian Pratt, outgoing chairman of Knight’s Community Advisory Committee in Aberdeen.

Presentation College will use the grant money for its Early Childhood Partners program to provide training and materials to child-care providers so they can deliver effective, age-appropriate health and oral hygiene routines to children in their care.

“Brown County children are below the national average in terms of oral and general health care practices. We’re teaching them basic skills like hand washing and tooth brushing to help raise awareness of the importance of these areas in children’s overall development,” said Suzanne Braun, program coordinator for Early Childhood Partners.

The Foundation for Aberdeen Area Children and Adolescent Service Systems Program is providing a two-pronged strategy to improve children’s access health care. The first supports a mobile dental van and the second creates a fund that will be available to agencies providing support for children’s unmet dental care and primary health care needs.

Knight’s grant to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Aberdeen Fifth Judicial Circuit will be used to keep the group’s trained volunteers up-to-date on a variety of medical issues affecting children, including fetal alcohol syndrome and the affects of methamphetamine on mental and physical health.

“This is a huge need. Our numbers for abused and neglected children in Aberdeen are very high. We work very closely with medical professionals in our community and are advocating hard for children who are not getting the mental and physical health services they need,” said Shirley Schwab, executive director of CASA.

Smaller grants totaling $40,000 have also been awarded to four other organizations working to improve the civic health of the Aberdeen area. 

They include:

  • Aberdeen Area Career Planning Center, $10,000, for Community Literacy  Outreach, an adult education and literacy program.
  • L. Frank Baum Oz Festival, $10,000, to enhance and expand multicultural  programming and education.
  • Northern State University, $10,000, to support ongoing operations of the Volunteer Service Clearinghouse.
  • S.P.U.R.S. Therapeutical Riding Center, $10,000, to help build an addition to the insulated indoor horse arena, used by the disabled and disadvantaged children.

The grants come as Knight Foundation expands its team of community liaisons from eight to 10. Anne Corriston, an experienced nonprofit professional, recently joined Knight as the community liaison program officer for Aberdeen as well as Grand Forks, N.D. and Wichita, Kan.

Polly Talen, formerly Knight’s liaison in Aberdeen, will now work only in the communities of St. Paul and Duluth, Minn. “Through Anne, Knight will continue to work closely with its community advisory committee and local organizations to invest in strategic programs that fit the funding needs of Aberdeen and Brown County,” said Talen.

 The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of Aberdeen and 25 other U.S. communities.