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Growing Rural Program Wins $10,000 Grant from BBF
1 December 2012, Author: Lynn Olszewski & Bev Santicola

Published by: Growing Rural


Knox, Indiana – In a recent letter from Jud Fisher, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Ball Brothers Foundation (Muncie, Indiana) to Beverly Santicola, Executive Director of the Center for Rural Outreach and Public Services, Inc. (or CROPS), it was announced that a general grant of $10,000 was approved by the Foundation for CROPS’ Growing Rural Evaluation Program.

The purpose of this grant request is to build the capacity of CROPS (Growing Rural) to implement a youth leadership and rural development program that can be replicated nationally by producing research based evidence that Growing Rural works. Specifically the project will include 5 major capacity building initiatives: 1) Curriculum Development, 2) Program Implementation, 3) Evaluation, 4) Marketing, and 5) Strategic Planning. The long term impact of the project's success is to increase academic performance in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), improve leadership in rural America by empowering youth to address rural issues, and reduce professional health professional shortages in Indiana by encouraging youth to explore health careers and empowering them to implement public health projects.  Short term outcomes include increased alignment of Growing Rural programs to STEM, researched based evidence that Growing Rural works, improved training materials, and increased youth interest in health careers, as well as increased capacity of Growing Rural and its partners.

Due to national attention and interest in Growing Rural, CROPS Board of Directors voted unanimously to establish a DBA in the State of Indiana as Growing Rural in 2012. Members of the Board of Directors are: Dave Hyatt (Knox, Indiana), Byron Holm, MD (Plymouth, Indiana), Tom Torsell (San Pierre, Indiana), Lynn Olszewski (Crown Point, Indiana), Eric Neagu (Chicago, Illinois), Harry E. Cummins, III (Toledo, Ohio), Jan Johnson (Houston, Texas), and Eileen “Taffy” Lafferty (Billings, Montana). The nonprofit, 501c3 charitable organization was founded in 2004 by the late Ardella Paulsen, Beverly Santicola and Tom Howard (Winamac, Indiana).

Collaborating partners for the Growing Rural Evaluation Project include Lynn Olszewski, Director and Christine DeNicola, Associate Director of the Northwest Indiana Area Health Education Center; Robyn Minton, Vice President of Operations, The Center of Workforce Innovations; and Saundra Bailey, Work One-Knox. Youth volunteers will be recruited in the summer of 2013 to survey the community to identify public health problems, prioritize problems and select one or more to address, develop solutions and implement service learning projects that produce measurable and observable outcomes. An added component to Growing Rural – Youth Leadership in Public Health this year is that teens will learn to write find, write and win grants to support their projects through a 1 day grant writing program called Art of the Dollar-Turn Your Words into Money.   

For more information on Growing Rural, visit the website at  

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