Project LIFT receives inaugural $100,000 Impact Grant from Impact 100 Martin
Patricia Austin
For Luminaries


Impact 100 Martin has awarded its first $100,000 Impact Grant to Project L..I.F.T. (Life Initiatives for Teens) for its launch of Pathway Academy of Innovation, which will provide at-risk teens with an alternative way to obtain a high school diploma.

During the annual meeting April 5 at Piper’s Landing Yacht & Country Club, the women of Impact 100 Martin heard presentations from three finalists for the prestigious award: House of Hope, Project L.I.F.T., and Tykes and Teens. Each woman had one vote to cast for the project that she believed would have the most impact in improving the quality of life in Martin County during 2018.

“Our members had a difficult task before them,” said Nancy Wong, co-chair of the Impact Grants Committee. “All of the projects submitted hold enormous promise for the good they can do in our community. Only one could be chosen, however, and we’ll be excited over the next year to see Project L.I.F.T.’s project develop and make changes in the lives of our friends and neighbors.”

In his presentation, L.I.F.T.’s Executive Director Bob Zaccheo described the importance of education, mental health, and job skills as a way to offer hope to at-risk teens ages 14 to 19 through a program that has been proved successful in other areas.

“Our teens need a way to obtain a high school diploma that improves their chances to become productive members of the community,” Zaccheo says. “Pathway Academy is an innovative way for us to reach them and give them the foundation they need for success.”

Because Impact 100 Martin received the support of 107 women for its first year, the remaining $7,000 was awarded in two separate grants of $3,500 each to the other finalists, House of Hope and Tykes and Teens.

Impact 100 is a national model that encourages creative, even groundbreaking, proposals from nonprofit organizations within the community. Women from all walks of life are able to become strategic, high impact philanthropists by contributing $1,000 each, pooling their resources, and collectively awarding grants that effect significant change.

The intense grants process took more than three months, from initial letters of intent from 24 nonprofits in Martin County, review of applications by the Grants Committee, site visits to seven semi-finalist organizations, and finally the presentations of the three finalists on April 5. At the meeting “every woman present took her responsibility very seriously because our grant is meant to be a game-changer,” said Genevieve George, chair of the Grants Award Celebration. “Each of us is excited to be part of a powerful new way to leverage our philanthropic dollars for the greatest, long lasting impact.”

Impact 100 Martin, under the auspices of the Martin County Community Foundation, has already begun its efforts to enroll women for 2018-19 membership.

“Think of the difference we could make in the community if 200 or 300 or more women decided to join us,” said Elizabeth Barbella, Community Foundation executive director. “There is no limit to what can be accomplished.”

Sponsors for this year’s Grants Award Celebration included Florida Power & Light Co. as the Nautilus Sponsor; First Citizens Bank, HBKS Wealth Advisors, and LouRonzo’s Italian Fusion as Infinity Sponsors; Resort at Home as Consistency Sponsor; Cruise One/Dream Vacations and Melissa Corbett/The Milcor Group as Hope Sponsors; and in-kind sponsors The Firefly Group, Sherwood Designs, Denise Belizar/Write Idea Communications, and Suzi Romanik/Heliographis.

For further information about Impact 100 Martin and membership for 2018-19, visit the Community Foundation website at