LOCAL IMPACT SPRINGFIELD
Clark County center loses big federal grant
Organization cuts staff, but will remain open.
By Kermit Rowe
SPRINGFIELD — The Marriage Resource Center of Miami Valley recently lost its annual federal funding grant that provided roughly 85 percent of its operating money.
The organization, which primarily assists couples with marriage-building skills and serves Clark, Champaign and Greene counties, still plans to operate.
“We want to continue providing accessible and affordable resources,” said Lavern Nissley, the center's executive director. The organization also provides limited training for individual adults and youth.
“We are sad about the loss but we still have resources available and will continue to make an impact,” Nissley said.
The Healthy Marriages Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which MRC received the past four years, wasn't renewed. It provided almost $800,000 of the group's $949,000 budget for 2014-15 fiscal year.
Overall the resource center has received nine years of federal funding, totaling $6.5 million, according to Nissley.
“That was a huge investment, and something we celebrate,” he said. “It allowed us to serve over 20,000 participants.”
The marriage failure rate dropped more than 43 percent in Clark County from 1999 to 2014, according to the center's research.
“I'm not sure we could have done that without this kind of leverage and traction,” Nissley said.
The state marriage failure rate dropped 27 percent during the same period, according to the same data.
The organization has already reduced its staff of 13 to seven, with wage cuts for those who remained. Another change will be classes that had been free under the grant will now include a registration fee, although Nissley said some scholarships will be available.
Contracted programs held in conjunction with community partners CitiLookout, Urban Light Ministries, Family and Youth Initiatives, Fellowship Spring Hill Church and Jobs & More also will no longer be offered. About $193,000 of the $800,000 grant was used for these programs.
“What it means is just scaling back and living within your means,” Nissley said. “We still see opportunities on the horizon. We are committed to doing more with less, when we can.”
The center's board will meet Monday to review and finalize its plan for the coming fiscal year. It will be working with a $235,000 budget and drawing on reserves to fill any funding gaps. The organization will also focus on trying to increase its roster of local donors.
“We were launched in 2004 with great local support,” Nissley said. “True sustainability has to be locally grown. You just never know when you will lose a federal grant.”
Contact this reporter at 937-328-0364 or email Kermit.Rowe@coxinc.com.