The Endeavor Foundation announced 12 grants totaling $421,112 to support EnergizeNWA, a community-led initiative to increase access to healthy food and physical activity. The awarded projects embrace a focus on long-term systemic change, multi-sector partnerships, and serving the needs of underserved populations across Northwest Arkansas.
“We received 42 proposals requesting over $1.6 million, and are excited to fund the projects with the most potential to improve the way we design our communities and to nurture a culture that supports a healthy lifestyle," said Anita Scism, CEO of Endeavor Foundation. "In order for Northwest Arkansas to embrace these ideas, the healthy choice needs to be easy, safe, affordable and accessible," Scism said.
The grants will advance a set of common healthy eating and active living goals reflecting input from the more than 200 leaders at the EnergizeNWA Summit earlier this year. For example, to encourage walking as a means of transportation, the city of Bentonville will develop 5-foot sidewalks on both sides of SE 6th Street between S. Main Street and SE E. Street, creating an east-west corridor that will provide pedestrian access to the Bentonville Public Library, Austin-Baggett Park, the Razorback Regional Greenway and various businesses and restaurants.
Similarly, a grant to the city of Fayetteville will create three east-west bikeways along low traffic routes to encourage biking by connecting schools, low-income neighborhoods, and area amenities.
A grant to the Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks will help put these new alternate transportation routes to good use. The percentage of children walking or bicycling to school decreased from 50% in 1969 to just 13% in 2009,” said Paxton Roberts, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks. “The EnergizeNWA grant will allow us to put programs and infrastructure in place that make it safer for kids to stay fit by walking or biking to school.”
Other grants to support a healthier food culture include funding for Cooking Matters courses led by Community Clinic and the Boys and Girls Club of Benton County. Cooking Matters teaches participants how to purchase healthy food on a budget, and to use healthy ingredients to prepare delicious and nutritious meals.
Feed Communities, an organization with the vision of supporting and expanding local food systems to provide durable food security solutions, was a key facilitator of the January summit and an early program partner of EnergizeNWA. Feed Communities will play a lead coordination role in EnergizeNWA by working with schools, community organizations, and other grantees to improve food equity and nutrition education in Benton and Washington counties.
• Bentonville School District – Wellness Program
• Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks – Regional Safe Routes to School Project
• Boys & Girls Club of Benton County – Cooking Matters Program
• Bridges to Wellness – Siloam Springs Collaborative Community Health Project
• City of Bentonville – East-West Sidewalk Project
• City of Fayetteville – East-West Bikeway Project
• Community Clinic – Cooking Matters & Healthy Weight Programs
• Elmdale Elementary School – School Bike Program
• Fayetteville Boys & Girls Club – Fitness Trail and Outdoor Gym
• Fayetteville Schools – Bike Education Program
• Northwest Arkansas Council – Regional Food Assessment
• Tri Cycle Farms – Neighborhood Produce Market