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Volunteer Groups Can Earn Grants in 'Newman's Own Award' Competition

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2004 – The June 1 deadline for applications is fast approaching for volunteer organizations to enter the "Newman's Own Award" competition that offers a share of $50,000 in grants to winners.

This marks the fifth year the annual contest is co-sponsored by the Newman's Own Co., the Fisher House Foundation and the Military Times Media Group. The submission judged to be the most outstanding will receive a $10,000 grant, according to Fisher House spokesman Jim Weiskopf.

He said the remaining $40,000 will be apportioned in grants to other outstanding submissions. The number of additional winners and grant dollar amounts awarded to each will be determined after the judges rank all entries and have an opportunity to discuss the relative merits of each.

Prize money is provided by World War II Navy veteran, award-winning actor and philanthropist Paul Newman and his company, "Newman's Own."

He's donated more than $150 million to thousands of charities since starting "Newman's Own" in 1982. He donates all his profits and royalties after taxes for educational and charitable purposes.

Fisher House operates nearly three dozen "homes away from home" on and near major military medical facilities worldwide to help family members tending to loved ones receiving treatment. The newest Fisher House is slated to open its third house at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center April 21. Two members of each of the sponsoring organizations will judge the competition.

Weiskopf noted that only not-for-profit, volunteer or private organizations composed primarily of volunteers that support active duty, National Guard or Reserve units or installations are eligible to compete for grants. For example, a congressionally chartered veterans service organization isn't eligible to compete if its program benefits only veterans.

Judges will evaluate submissions based on identification and relevance of the problem being addressed, program description, originality, anticipated benefits, resources, time frame, community/command/volunteer support and how grant money will be used.

Supporting deployed service members isn't a prerequisite for entering the competition, but that's what this year's competition is focused on. Fisher House officials noted that last year, more than half of the organizations receiving grants had programs supporting families of deployed service members.

"It appears that where people really need help is in taking care of families while service members are deployed overseas," Weiskopf said. "It's needed all over the United States, but probably more with the Guard and Reserve than with the active force. That's because the active force has programs on installations that take care of the families. So the emphasis from the judges this year is going to focus on families of service members who are deployed."

Weiskopf used an example from last on what types of programs are judged to be outstanding. He said a group of Ohio firefighters, who are also reservists, helped families of deployed service members who had household repair problems appliances, plumbing and the like.

"The firefighters gave family members a telephone number to call if they needed help," he noted. "They would find someone in the reserve unit or a firefighter who had that particular skill who would do the repair free of charge. The only thing the family had to pay for was the cost of any parts that had to be purchased."

Some organizations, like the Armed Services YMCA, have won the top prize more than once. "They have a lot of projects going on at the local level, and the national level encourages all of the local YMCAs to submit their ideas to us," Weiskopf said. "Their core mission is to help families at the bases, and they've had special emphasis on organizations that have had a lot of deployments."

There's no specific format for applications. That's left up to the creativity of each organization. But competition officials said to facilitate reproducing the entries so they can be circulated to the judges, all materials must be on 8-1/2 by 11-inch paper, one side only.

Last year, 14 out of 100 organizations submitting applications were selected to receive grants. Each organization submitting an entry will receive a certificate of recognition. Some submissions can be recognized as honorable mentions, without monetary award.

Entries can be made via e-mail in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel or Adobe Acrobat.

For more information, contact the Fisher House Foundation by e-mail at info@fisherhouse.org or call toll-free (888) 294-8560. Information also is available at the Fisher House Web site.

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