top of page

2014 minigrant teams turned $82,000 into projects worth more than $700,000 

Hamlin K-8 work day-(minigrant).jpg

When Try This awards a minigrant, the team agrees to secure local match. By year’s end, the 2014 teams had used their minigrants as leverage to secure $708,000 in donations, contributions, other grants and volunteer hours.

By the end of the cycle, the 42 teams had used their grant to leverage:

* $126,283 in cash contributions

* $142,702 in non-cash resources

* $439,187.38 in volunteer hours (using the volunteer scale)




Healthy Berkeley:

It’s Up To Us! Healthy Berkeley used the money to pay their share of a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA worker for a year. The VISTA is starting regular community conversation meetings and helping carry out Healthy Berkeley coalition activities. Healthy Berkeley is a countywide coalition of groups collaborating to promote healthy living programs and maximize effectiveness, create awareness, reduce duplication, and develop effective programs. Partners: The Berkeley County Health Department; Catholic Charities West Virginia, Healthier Berkeley County.

Project leader: Dana M. DeJarnett /


Health and Wellness of RAPP EOP Community:

The grant will help create an extensive health training and coping skill for people caring for disabled relatives. Fun learning activities and healthy snacks for children will be provided during the workshops.  Partners: United Way of Eastern Panhandle, RAPP OEP, WV North American Council of Adoptable Children, West Virginia’s Promise.

Project lead: Betty McDonald,



G.P.S. (Grow, Plant, Share):

The grant will fund a community garden and home gardens and three months of gardening and nutrition workshops free to the public in summer 2014. Sutton Elementary will help select families for their pilot home garden project, designed to encourage family gardening, which will run throughout the school year. The project will be completed in one year. Partners: Sutton Elementary School, the Town of Sutton, Braxton County Health Department, City National Bank, and the WVU Extension Office

Project Lead: Dot Gioulis,





Weirton Community Garden:

The funds helped pay for a community garden in Brooke and Hancock Counties, a family canning class and community garden space in Weirton. The team managed to leverage enough donations to build a second garden. The gardens supplied fresh produce to about 24 families and local food pantries. Partners: Healthways and WVU Extension services, the Weirton Christian Center and the Brooke Hancock Family Resource Network.

Project Lead: Aerika West,



Fairfield Community Foodshare Project:

Five community gardens were created on vacant Huntington lots donated to the Build It Up! program by Huntington’s Land Bank Program (HURA). Community residents and homeless people helped grow the food, which was distributed among those who helped grow it and the local food pantry. Area youth in Build It Up! grew produce on one vacant lot. They took it to the Wild Ramp for sale, to keep the program going. Partners: KEYS 4 HealthyKids, West Virginia State University Extension Services; Build it Up!

Project Lead: Cadance Young,  


Try This Huntington:

The grant launched monthly healthy community events that promoted better nutrition and/or increased physical activity. The team targeted young area families and offered zumba classes for adults and children, Mommy and Me Yoga, Supper in a Sack-Budgeting and Healthy Meal Preparation workshops, water aerobics classes, and couponing and homemade baby food events. Partners: TEAM for WVChildren, Valley Health, Cabell County Family Resource Network, Partners in Prevention, MISSION WV, YoungLives, Cabell County WIC Program, Cabell-Huntington Health Department, Change the Future WV, and Create Huntington.

Project Lead: Laurie McKeown,



High Five:

Area youth learned how to grow and sell food by actually doing it in a STEAM learning environment. They worked in the High Five community garden 10 hours a week, learing to harvest and can their produce. They helped sell the produce and canned goods at the Fayette County Farmers Market and learned how to keep books and manage sales. A walking trail was created and a zumba class offered. This project helped re-establish the Young Farmers program, and continue already-established programs, such as the afterschool program and Energy Express. Partners: The Southern Appalachian Labor School (SALS), the Fayette County Farmers Market Association and the United Bank of Montgomery.

Project Lead: John David,


Girls on the Run:

About 50 area 3rd – 5th grade girls will participate in the Girls on the Run program at Fayetteville Elementary School. Sponsors aim to accept all girls who apply, with all participating girls attending and completing an end-of-program 5K run. Family members will coach and will help other Fayette County Schools create Girls on the Run programs. Partners: Fayetteville Elementary School (FES), with the support from Fayette  County Family Resource Network and the Fayette County Living Well Work Group.

Project Lead: Lauren Weatherford,    


Mt. Hope Children’s Health Council Nutrition Education and Physical Activities Projects:

Youth will grow produce for seniors and shut-ins on two community gardens they will also refurbish. They will also go through a nutrition education program during National Nutrition Month at Mount Hope Elementary School, ending in a tomato-growing competition for the kids. Partners: The West Virginia Southeastern Area Health Education Center, the Adolescent Health Initiative, Mt. Hope Elementary School, New River Health, and West Virginia University Extension Services.

Project Lead: Donna Bush,  


Mt. Hope on the Move:

Mt. Hope on the Move created a walking/running club for residents and distributed an area walking trail map. Partners: Fayette County Family Resource Network and the Fayette County Living Well Work Group.

Lead Contact: Jean Evansmore,  




SNAP Up Local Foods:

SNAP Up Local Foods will offer five nutrition and cooking demonstrations, targeting Seniors and SNAP recipients, at Greenbrier Valley farmers’ markets, with the goal of doubling the dollar volume of SNAP and Senior/WIC benefits redeemed at each market per week. The WIC and Senior Centers will be working to spread the word, along with Public Service Announcements on Appalachian Mountain Radio. Partners: Alderson Community Food Hub, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, the Lewisburg Farmers Market, the City of Lewisburg, the Greenbrier Valley Local Foods Initiative, and West Virginia University Extension Services.

Project Lead: Laura Bozzi,


Get Out, Get Active, Get Healthy:

This youth program included a three-month walking program, healthy cooking demonstrations, pool parties with physical and nutritional activities, and fruit/vegetable fairs throughout the county, with an aim of increasing usage of state parks, walking and biking rails, the Greenbrier River, swimming pools, and farmers markets. Their goal is to have 50 youth and 100 adult participants countywide. Partners: The West Virginia University Extension office, the Greenbrier County Health Department, Rainelle Medical Center.

Project Lead: Nikki Dolan,




One Step At A Time:

Jackson County’s Moovin’ and Groovin’ – Taking Steps For Life – The coalition identified and measured every public trail in Jackson County. They made trail maps, distributed them to the public and planned events that bring people to the trails. The ultimate goal was to connect/create trails to allow bikers and hikers to travel the whole county and into other counties on trails. Partners: Jackson County Healthy Department, KEYS 4 Healthy Kids, the City of Ravenswood, WVU Extension Services, and Wirt County Health Services Association, Inc.

Lead Contact: Wendy M. Crawford,  




Butterfield Memorial Natural Playground:

After a year of negotiation with the Corps of Engineers, volunteers are creating a natural playground across the street from the Clendenin Public Library to increase physical activity for children in the area, with the help of a landscape designer. Partners: KEYS 4 HealthyKids, Cabin Creek Health Systems, Work or Play Travel, and A New Clendenin.

Project Lead: KC Lovin,  


Bouncin’ In the Garden:

The grant paid for yoga balls and associated equipment for children to use in the classroom and gardens to help with retention of information, fine motor skills, hyperactivity, posture and focus. Ruthlawn will become a demonstration center for use of yoga balls. WVU Extension provided technical advice and made Master Gardener volunteers available. Taylor Books provided a meeting space for learning about gardening, exercise, and fitness. Partners: WVU Extension Services, KEYS 4 HealthyKids, and Taylor Books, Ruthlawn Elementary School.

Project Lead: Rachel Milner,  


Community Garden:

The Vista View and Southmoor Hills Neighborhood Network Learning Centers will build ten raised garden beds in three low-income communities for at least ten families that will use them to raise vegetables each growing season. Partners: Ten South Management Company LLC, KEYS 4 HealthyKids, and WVU Kanawha Extension, the Vista View Neighborhood Network Learning Center and Southmoor Hills Neighborhood Network Learning Center.

Project Lead: Staci Ponder,  


Healthy Cross Lanes Initiative:

Organize at least two walking groups that will meet once a week in a variety of locations so walkers can experience the many area walking trails. The grant will finance beginning steps towards an annual Healthy Cross Lanes Day, which will consist of track and field competitions, healthy food, gardening demonstrations, bounce houses, health fairs, fitness classes, prizes, and giveaways. Partners: Cross Lanes United Methodist Church and the YMCA.

Project Lead: Vikki Ballengee,  


Y-Grow Youth Gardens:

At least 125 youth will contribute 200 volunteer hours to refurbish and maintain the YMCA garden. They will incorporate healthy snacks all year in afterschool and summer camp programs. Community businesses will contribute 80 hours of volunteer instruction on healthy eating, food prep, and garden growing techniques. Partners: YMCA of Kanawha Valley, WVU Extension, WVSU Extension, Charleston Area Alliance, Mission Savvy, KEYS 4HealthyKids, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Pray Construction.

Project Lead: Kelly L. Pruett,  



Two Playgrounds and a Community Garden:

Using the mini-grant, the partners will create two natural play areas and green spaces in Weston and a gardening area across from Criss Manor for seniors and participants in the Lewis County Family Resource Network Food Pantry. They will also hold a health fair at the beginning and end of each summer season. Partners: The City of Weston, St. Patrick School, Lewis County Christian Alliance,  Regional Education Service Agencies, the Lewis County Family Resource Network, Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Project Lead: Julia Spelsberg,  



Farm to Childcare (Kanawha & Lincoln):

Five different child care centers will use this funding to help their children grow fresh produce, harvest it, and use it in a healthy well-balanced diet. The project team will also arrange for at least three local farmers and producers to provide fresh produce to the local centers/schools. Partners: WVU Extension Services, Come Grow With Me, Childcare, Inc., The Growing Place, Lincoln County Schools, and the YWCA, KEYS 4 Healthy Kids.

Project Lead: Laura Dice,


HOWLS (Hamlin Outdoor Wellness Learning Site)/Natural Playground and Vegetable Gardens:

Team volunteers are building a natural playground at Hamlin PK-8, to supply students with a badly-needed area for healthy play at a school that currently has one swing set for 160 kids. This money will pay for a bamboo tunnel and grass maze among other things. The playground will include a sensory garden where children can learn how to grow fruits and vegetables. Partners: Three Trees Design and Landscaping, staff, students, Lincoln County High students, Hamlin United Methodist members, Hamlin PTO, and other community members, KEYS 4 HealthyKids.

Project Lead: Chastidy Graham,


Steps With Kathy:

Getting Healthy In Honor Of The Person Who Inspires Us To Do Better With this grant, the team will provide six months of physical activity opportunities at the Big Ugly Community Center, including geocaching, swimming, and indoor tennis. Participants will learn about the role of physical activity in preventing chronic disease. Grow Appalachia will offer workshops on healthy food and cooking throughout the 6-month program, and West Virginia State University Extension will be providing Walk With Ease trainings. The program is dedicated to Kathy Smith, Center director, who is battling cancer. Partners: WV State Extension Services, Grow Appalachia, Step By Step, Inc., The Big Ugly Community Center.

Project Lead: Michael Tierney,



Man: Fight Poverty with Produce:

The partners will start a farmers market at area community events, add two more raised bed gardens at Man Middle School, and provide Junior Master Gardener workshops in afterschool programs. The funding will pay for the construction of two beds, topsoil, fertilizer, scales, garden tools, plastic netting, and Junior Master Gardener Instruction. Materials for the first four raised beds were donated by Man Elementary, and local supply stores donated soil. Students in summer and after-school programs will raise produce in the gardens. Partners: The Man community, Man Middle School, Master Gardeners Association.

Project Lead: Bea Sias,


Rebuild Renew Unite Cora-Shamrock:

This funding will help launch a Celebrate Cora Coalition in one of Logan’s most troubled neighborhoods. The coalition will include youth, churches and other organizations, and residents. They will plan a basketball tournament, engage more families in the community garden and plan an annual “Block Party” event featuring healthy activities for kids and families & education about local food. Threading through all these activities: leadership training for young people. Partners: Recovery Group of Southern WV, Healthy Logan, WVU Extension, and BAPS Youth Leadership Group, American  Friends Service Committee.

Project Lead: Lida Shepherd,



Keep it Cool & Healthy:

This grant will pay for two refrigerators to keep produce fresh at the Five Loaves and Two Fishes food bank near Welch. The food bank will also host nutrition, cooking, and exercise classes, and (with new certification!) will provide milk, eggs, yogurt, potatoes and other perishable food items that will be kept fresh with refrigeration. Partners: Five Loaves & Two Fishes LLC food bank, WVU Extension and Mountaineer Food Bank.

Project Lead: Sabrina Shrader,



Mineral County Playscapes:

With the funding, the team will construct three natural playscape areas in Mineral County while engaging youth in hands-on learning and encouraging use of public school play areas. The grant will help match in-kind donations to purchase the needed construction supplies. Partners: WVU Extension, Change the Future WV, WVU Master Gardener’s Association, New Creek Elementary School, the parks & recreation department, Mineral County Health Department, and the Mineral County Family Resource Network.

Project Lead: Stacey Huffman,  


Families on the Move:

The partners and youth organizations will develop three family-friendly walking trails and recruit at least 25 families for weekly walking programs. This grant will help get the ball rolling by providing the funding necessary to spread awareness: create and post trail signs, promoting the trails and the project, and print publications about the trail program. Partners: Mineral County FRN, AmeriCorps VISTA for MCFRN & CASA, WVU Extension, Lifestyle Fitness Center, Change the Future WV, Girls Scouts of America, County Commissioner and Mayor of Ridgeley, Delegate Gary Howell, Keyser City Administrator, Mineral County Health Department, Mineral County Parks & Recreation.

Project Lead: Gerri Mason,  



Bike Friendly Matewan:

The goal of this project is to transform Matewan into a bike-friendly community, encourage citizens and visitors to bicycle in a safe environment, and take steps toward becoming a nationally certified Bike-Friendly Community. The minigrant award will help fund bike safety course materials, brochures, maps, advertisements, bike racks construction, and general repairs/upkeep of supplies. Partners: Tug Valley Road Runners Club & the Williamson Wellness Center, the WV Community Development HUB, the Williamson Farmers Market, the Appalachian Leadership Academy.

Lead Contact: Kelly M. Webb,


Coalfields Food Hub The partners will build a new hightunnel greenhouse, train students and veterans to garden, and increase production & income at the Williamson Farmers Market and Mobile Market by 2015. The grant will supply the funds to construct the hightunnel and part of teacher stipends. Partners: Mingo County Diabetes Coalition, Williamson Health & Wellness, the Mingo Development Authority, & Williamson Redevelopment.

Lead Contact: Maria Arnot,



Christian Help’s Token to Health:

The grant will be used for farmers market tokens for families using Christian Help’s Food Pantry to allot to households. This will be a way of introducing SNAP families to the farmers market, thereby encouraging them to use their benefits on fresh, local produce. Partners: Morgantown Food Market, Christian Help, WVU Extension Services.

Project Lead: Laura Horning,       


Conscious Harvest Cooperative:

With land donated by a local farmer, this grant will help the Conscious Harvest Cooperative grow food for local pantries with no access to fresh produce. The Cooperative loans garden plots to individuals and partners with local markets. Local families volunteer monthly to maintain the garden. The mini-grant will help fund materials such as picnic tables and seedlings, as well as the construction of a parking lot for the families gardening. Partners: Conscious Harvest unites WVU students & residents of Morgantown in a strategy for alternative food sourcing.

Project Lead: Samantha Maki,



Richwood Initiative for Healthy Families and Sustainable Future:

The grant will pay for healthy cooking classes held at the Richwood Pantry twice a month for six months. The team plans to develop a healthier food pantry by partnering with a local farmer, provide breastfeeding classes, train families to read food labels, and provide food preservation classes. Partners: AmeriCorps VISTA, WVU Extension, Nicholas County FRN, local gardener George Kinney, PAT, Richwood Pantry, & Nicholas County Starting Points.

Project Lead: Barbie Ratcliff,




Linwood Alive:

The team bought natural learning environment elements, fencing, plants, and garden supplies for a natural playground. They built education stations for the children, which include art, music, math, science, and local heritage. Partners: Grow Appalachia, the Pocahontas County Farmers Market, Snowshoe Mountain Resort, and local construction and landscaping companies.

Project Lead: Tracey Valach, 


Marlinton: Healthy Harvest Food Pantry:

This grant will help the Harvest House Food Pantry, which serves 350 households monthly, buy fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers market during the growing season, and canned, frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables from local retailers during the off season. It will pay for education opportunities on diabetes, making your recipes healthier, hypertension, local exercise opportunities, reading food labels, and food allergies. Partners: Mountaineer Food Bank, Lions Club, Community Care of Marlinton, Family Outreach and Education Center, Farmer’s Market, WVDHHR, Pocahontas Memorial Hospital, WV Right from the Start, Go Marlinton Coalition, Pocahontas County Health Department.

Project Lead: Laura Young,



Hometown Elementary School:

Community Based Playground The partners will build a 640’ X 4’ fitness trail on school property and install equipment on the trail that will make the trail accessible for special needs preschool students. With $29,500 contributed from other sources and an in-kind labor donation from the National Guard, this grant will fund mulching and the installation of equipment on the trail. Partners: Putnam County Schools, Hometown Elementary, ARS, WV Legislature, National Guard, Putnam County Parks & Recreation, Elizabeth Baptist Church.

Project Lead: Barbara Black,


Cooking United Promoting Intelligent Decisions [CUPID Living]:

The Raleigh Family Resource Network will offer gardening training and canning classes for community Seniors. The team will build raised community garden beds, accessible to 800 community members. Participants will can 300 lbs of vegetables to distribute to at least 15 families. Partners will also offer healthy shopping and living classes and provide healthy recipes. Partners: WVU Extension, Keys 4 Healthy Kids, The Center, Raleigh County FRN, Beckley VA Medical Center.

Project Lead: Deborah Williams,


Grafton Community Garden:

This grant will buy materials to build raised beds & fence for a community garden. Volunteers will provide at least 100 hours of service to raise produce that can be taken home or sold at the farmers market. Partners: North Central WV Community Action, Taylor County Starting Points Family Resource Center, WV Healthy Start, Regional Education Services Agencies, Preston/Taylor Parents as Teachers, WVU Extension Service, Rape Domestic Violence Information Center, Taylor County Collaborative FRN, Taylor County Medical Center, Taylor County Health Dept., Hospice Care Corporation, WV Office of Maternal, Child, & Family Health, Change the Future WV.

Project Lead: Jennifer Murray, / 


Hendricks Park – Let’s Play – Playground:

This grant will buy playground equipment for a safe playground in Hendricks. The partners have already secured the cost of landscaping. The new playground will be between the Cheat River Water Trail and the Allegheny Highlands Rail Trail. Volunteers from Hendricks, Hambleton and Parsons will contribute 250 volunteer hours to construct the playground. Partners: Town of Hendricks, Hendricks Town Park, Tucker County Senior Center, Tucker County FRN, Town of Hendricks, Tucker Community Foundation, Hendricks United Methodist Women.

Project Lead: Solena Roberts,


Buckhannon: Community Raised Garden Beds:

This funding will buy lumber, supplies, and signage costs necessary to allow Create Buckhannon volunteers to construct 45 raised beds. Between 45 to 100 individuals and families will till the beds each year, providing them with produce and a hands-on learning experience.   Partners: The Parish House & The Opportunity House, Create Buckhannon, Upshur County CVB, WV Wesleyan College, City of Buckhannon.

Project Lead: Laura Meadows,



Journey to Wellness:

This grant will help the partners maintain a “Journey to Wellness” community website page and newsletter that will offer fitness DVDs through the Webster County library. The coalition also will provide equipment & incentives for 100 attendees at the Webster County Memorial Hospital’s Kids’ Health & Wellness Camp. Through the newsletter, the team will increase participation in annual weight loss contest (the Journey to Wellness Challenge) by 10 people. Partners: Webster County FRN, Webster County Health Dept., Webster County Memorial Hospital, Webster County Fitness Center, WVU Ext. Office, Cowen Public Library, Webster-Addison Library.

Project Lead: Todd Farlow,  


SADD’s Got P.O.W.E.R.:

Wyoming County’s Students Against Destructive Decisions will organize a County Youth  Health Coalition that will create a community garden; create a running team that will compete in two 5Ks, and create a biking team. The project will provide opportunities for “anti-drug” choices (i.e. biking, running, gardening, sports, dance, etc. Partners: Students Against Destructive Decisions, Wyo. FRN, Wyoming Family Resource Center, Wyo. VISTA for Youth Coalition, Wyoming County Board of Education, Wyoming County Prevention Coalition.

Project Lead: Kathy Brunty,  


Mullens on the Move:

One hundred participants will walk a total of 10,000 miles in one year. The program will sponsor two Biggest Loser contests, organize semi-annual active outdoor events for kids, and run a line-dancing program. Partners: Mullens Opportunity Center, Rural Appalachian Improvement League, Experience Works, TASC.

Project Lead: Charlene Cook,  

bottom of page