PHOENIX — Vitalyst Health Foundation is giving local nonprofits and coalitions that are focused on the health and wellness of Arizonans $20,000 each to help support their causes.
The foundation chose nine groups to receive the grant, including the Adverse Childhood Experiences Consortium, Arizona Family Health Partnership and Black Lives Matter PHX.
“Spark Grants provide time and funding for partners to come up with solutions to community challenges,” said Melanie Mitros, Vitalyst’s director of strategic community partnerships.
"And we're focused on hopefully being able to change systems and often that’s through policies or practices within those systems,” she added.
Another group receiving a grant, the Arizona Center for African American Resources, will use the money to develop a plan to address the long-standing disparities in the Black community involving the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
According to the group, in Arizona, the Black population represents approximately 4% of the total population, yet Black children make up 16% of those in custody of AZDCS.
Community advocate Matthew Stewart says he wants decision makers to acknowledge the disparity. He tells ABC15 he’s hoping for a “commitment to listen and to hear from families who are over represented.”
When asked about the group’s efforts to raise awareness and address disparities, a spokesperson with the Arizona Department of Child Safety sent the following statement:
“We are excited to learn that the Center for African American Resources has received this grant. The Department has made vast systemic improvements, and Director Faust is engaging with the African American community. The Department welcomes input from non-profits that are working on this national issue. The Department has also started an internal committee focused on disparity that can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Other grant recipients include: Arizona Advocacy Network, Black Mothers Forum, Cihuapactli Collective, Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth, and Southwest Folklife Alliance.