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G-M group  loses funding, looks at future

TURNERS FALLS — The Gill-Montague Community School Partnership is looking to its future after losing the grant that has sustained it for the past five years.

With a staff of one full-time and one part-time administrator and a governing council, the organization awards and administers mini-grants and otherwise works to support social services in the community.

The future of the organization will be on the agenda for a meeting Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in Turners Falls High School, 222 Turnpike Road, which the public is invited to attend. The partnership is also soliciting suggestions via email to pd@gmpartnership.org or manager@gmpartnership.org.

“I feel and we feel pretty confident that the core functions of the partnership will continue until more money can be found,” said Manager Cate Woolner.

Identifying those priorities will be a focus of the meeting, she said.

Woolner said the federal Drug Free Communities grant has supported the partnership to the tune of $125,000 a year for five years. Begun as an informal organization, the partnership first received federal funding in 2006, and the Drug Free Communities grant is currently the only funding source.

Woolner said the partnership has taken a broader approach to the drug-free goal.

“We have looked at it slightly broader,” Woolner said. “How can we support those things in the community that evidence shows helps kids make good decisions?”

The partnership has given money to organizations in the community including the Brick House Community Resource Center, Montague Catholic Social Ministries, the public library, and supported mediation programs at the high school and middle school and a gay-straight alliance.

Woolner said research has shown that when school climate improves, school connectedness increases, and this has been a major focus of the partnership.

With the latest grant application unsuccessful, staff hours for Woolner and project director Kara McLaughlin will be decreased, but will likely continue through the end of the year, and the partnership will no longer be in a position to make grants.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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