Grand Rapids-based Well House today received approval for the largest grant in the history of the organization.
The Battle Creek-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation will provide $475,000 to Well House over three years. The nonprofit will invest the money in additional affordable housing options, employment opportunities and healthy food solutions.
"Kellogg is a really prestigious foundation to be affiliated with," Well House Executive Director Tami VandenBerg told MiBiz. "It's a rigorous process and they have some really, really clear goals and things they want to see. We're very honored that they have chosen to support us again with an increase."
Last year, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded Well House a grant of $257,000 over two years.
Well House, which has nine houses and five food-growing lots, will use the money to purchase an additional three houses. Two of the homes will be used to house families that are at risk of separation due to dire financial and residential status.
The other house will provide affordable housing options for homeless youth that are aging out of the foster care system and are soon to be released from their foster homes. This was an issue that VandenBerg and Well House could not ignore.
"The data is showing that (homeless youth) basically have a really high chance of struggling with (homelessness) their whole lives," VandenBerg said. "To get in front of it is a really big deal. These kids are just at extremely high risk of different things, from being exploited to having to do different kinds of work just to survive. If we can pull it off — and I think we can — it will be a really good pilot to go off of."
A portion of the grant will also be used to further the Well House Urban Farm program and extend employment opportunities to residents.
Affordable housing is at the center of Well House’s mission. The organization offers housing options for $275 for a single room for a month. Well House has received more than 320 applications for housing in the last two years.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was edited to include additional comments from Executive Director Tami VandenBerg.