Mission & Ministry Grants Help Young Adults Gain Life Skills

Each year, the National Benevolent Association invites congregations and ministries to apply for a Mission & Ministry Grant. These grants are reserved specifically for projects that will impact older adults as well as historically excluded youth and young adults. Below is a story from a grantee who received funds for their work in 2021.   


Traci Copple-headshot-child saving institute
Traci Copple, Grant Coordinator at Child Saving Institute

Child Saving Institute (CSI) offers Independent Living Skills (ILS) programming to young adults ages of 14-26 to help them as they transition from foster care to adulthood. The program helps adolescents and young adults gain life skills like creating a budget, looking for and applying to jobs, and cooking basics. The story below is just one example of how a Mission & Ministry Grant from the National Benevolent Association helps fund dreams for young people.

Tonya was referred to our ILS program, needing guidance and support with resume building for employment, college funding, and obtaining a driver’s license. She proudly graduated from high school and was determined to be the first person to graduate college in her family.

At the time of referral, Tonya was a freshman at a four-year college majoring in nursing where she’d made the decision to live on campus. This was very difficult because all her life, she has looked after her younger siblings. To this day, Tonya continues to be the mother-like figure for her younger siblings. She visits her sibling’s home frequently, ensuring that they are getting good grades, helping with relationship issues, and responding to their numerous messages while she is away. Still, she continues to live on campus while struggling to remove herself from the caregiver role for her siblings so she can focus on her studies.

In addition to being a mother figure to her siblings, Tonya was also focused on affording her college tuition. She applied for financial grants and worked a job to assist her in paying these fees. She began to feel the pressure of being a ’parent‘ to her siblings while working, paying for, and attending school. She was scared that all these responsibilities would become too much and result in her having to quit school.

To help manage her mounting responsibilities, Tonya began working with a specialist in our Independent Living Skills program. During Tonya’s work within the program, she was connected to many resources to help her meet several of her personal goals. The ILS Specialist located a community resource that assisted with funding for Tonya’s driver’s education and licensing. This allowed Tonya more opportunities to progress in her goals and achievements in school and work. Her specialist also provided transportation to and from the program’s nightly trainings to ensure Tonya was able to participate. Tonya completed the program successfully, obtained her driver’s license, and even purchased a car! She was able to achieve this milestone all while balancing work and her school commitments.

In addition to a driver’s license, Tonya’s ILS Specialist located other financial resources in the community to assist with her college tuition. Her ILS Specialist explained the different opportunities within community programs, met with Tonya to complete program applications, then worked closely with her to ensure submission for each program. Tonya was graciously awarded tuition funding to cover some of the cost of her education.

Our ILS Specialists also serve as advocates for the young adults we work with at CSI. Tonya’s specialist saw her progress and determination, used community resources when appropriate, and helped Tonya to meet her goals. With the help of generous funders like the NBA, Tonya was able to receive support and stay focused on her education and life goals.

Between grants, work, community support, and additional monetary support, Tonya completed her education without financial deficits or having to take time off from her nursing program! Tonya’s hard work and determination to be a first-generation college graduate paid off. CSI is incredibly proud of her hard work, dedication, and drive to succeed.

Traci Copple is the Grants Coordinator at Child Saving Institute. Are you interested in receiving grant funds for your health and social service project? Consider applying for a Mission & Ministry Grant here