On Thursday, September 14, we had our 5th Annual Outstanding Grantees of the Year Awards Celebration. The acceptance speeches from each of the winners were sincere, inspiring and filled with gratitude! We’d like to pass their (and our) deep thanks along to our generous donors, community partners, board members, advisors, volunteers, friends and staff for all you do to support our mission of boosting People of Potential closer to their dream of financial independence. The support of our donors and the dedicated work of partner agencies and staff makes possible these inspiring stories that are changing the lives within our community year after year!
The Awards event was an uplifting evening for donors, sponsors, partners and grantees alike! What a perfect opportunity to see first hand the power of MicroGrants at WORK!
Below are this year’s winning stories. Be inspired!
Tanisha Brown received her grant through Project for Pride in Living
Ms Brown moved into PPL housing in 2013 with her 2 sons. She moved there with the Supportive Housing program which is now managed and through Project for Pride in Living (PPL). Throughout her years being in the supportive housing program, Tanisha continued to work towards her goals of stabilization for herself and her family. Tanisha has been going to school, utilizing our tutoring resources for different classes and editing papers. Her persistence and dedication has led to amazing grades and solid internships throughout the Twin Cities. She is currently at Metro State working toward a double major in Management and Human Resource Management with a minor in Project Management.
She had an internship with the Metropolitan Council, which has led her to gaining a position there within HR! Along with her work at Metropolitan Council, she also works at ACR Homes as a Direct Care Professional. Ms Brown has made incredible strides for herself and her kids. The MicroGrant she received helped her with her school fees, which has led her to her new career. MicroGrants has been an instrumental part of her progress toward financial stability. Without MicroGrants, she would not have been able to continue classes. It would have cost her a semester or more of lost time saving up for classes, and she may not have gotten the internship that she was working toward. And she had been doing all of this while raising her 2 sons as a single mom.
Tanisha has done incredible work in her life to become self-reliant and self-sufficient. MicroGrants has made the difference in Tanisha moving toward her goal of completing school, and she is on course to graduate with her double major in Spring 2018
Mekonnen Chando received his grant through St Paul Housing Authority
Although Mekonnen had an accounting degree from Ethiopia, he soon determined that it would be difficult to find work here in the cities with that degree so he enrolled in college. He managed to work several jobs, take care of his family, and go to school all at the same time. He borrowed for college, and was determined to paid it all off within the year – and he succeeded. After more than a year looking for a job in his field, Mekonnen decided that he was just going to have to open his own accounting practice to do the work he was trained in, and the career that he loves. He soon located an office space, and with the help of Microgrants, he was able to purchase the computer equipment and software he needed to begin. He took a tax preparation class and, last winter, he opened his doors for business!
Mekonnen did not reach the amount that his business goals had projected in his first year but he is currently working on his marketing strategy, and we have no doubt that things will pick up for him this coming year. One of the most amazing aspects of his personality is his resilience. Mr. Chando simply doesn’t let obstacles stand in his way. He just keeps finding ways to move ahead. He is filled with gratitude for the help he has received in assisting him to move even closer to his dream of financial stability for himself and his family.
Brittany Mackie received her grant through St Paul Housing Authority
Brittany is a single mom who has worked extremely hard over the past few years to obtain an education and job training, and she has accomplished a great deal. Last year she was given a MicroGrants investment for a computer and printer in order to complete school assignments. Since getting the grant, she has completed firefighter training with the City of St. Paul and is beginning paramedic training at Century College. All of this while raising two kids, working in a St. Paul fire station and applying for additional jobs. This has been achieved despite a misdemeanor that she had as a young person that barred her from getting some employment. Brittany exemplifies hard work, determination, and tenacity. Ms Mackie is full of gratitude and honored to be among MicroGrants’ People of Potential.
Mystaya Stanback received her grant through EMERGE Community Development
Upon meeting Mystaya and seeing her bright, shining smile, one would never suspect how many barriers she has faced. When she first told me her story I couldn’t believe how much this young woman had already endured. As a teen mom, her child’s father was incarcerated which caused her to live on public assistance. She had recently lost her father, a prominent advocate in the North Minneapolis community, and before he died, he had always encouraged her to pursue her education. But for financial reasons, she dropped out of college and still had a balance due. After his death, she became more determined than ever to break the cycle of generational poverty that her family had been bearing. Mystaya wanted to honor him by going back to school. That’s where MicroGrants stepped in to pay off her balance due to school, and some tickets in order to get her license reinstated. Mystaya is now in school and plans to get her degree in social work or early childhood development, and use her knowledge and education to better her community. Her father’s dream was always for her to get back to school and make a good life for herself and her children. Ms Stanback often comments that she can feel her Dad looking down on her and proudly encouraging her along the path to a successful life.
Tamra Haselman received her grant through The Wilder Foundation
Tamra came to Wilder Project Quest Supportive Housing Program through being in a domestic abuse situation. She became homeless due to running from her abuser and needing to live in a different area with her son. Ms Haselman is a very creative and artistic woman. She has been creating jewelry, winter head wear, wall décor, and more for her family for years. With her MicroGrants investment, she was able to buy a laptop, a business design template, business cards, and mailing supplies. With these business essentials in place, Tamra was able to set up her online market and begin shopping her wares. She has now been selling embellished hats, T-shirts, dresses, head bands, and jewelry for almost a year and is doing quite well with reported sales of $1,300 in one month; the most she has sold in that time frame.
Her next two goals are to take a n online business course to learn how to advance her online presence, marketing and sales. This will assist her in broadening her marketability to other online stores. While on the Project Quest program Tamra’s income has increased dramatically through her online market. She also volunteers at least three times a week at her son’s school. Her ultimate goal is to make enough money to have her own unit in the suburbs and live with her son permanently.
Grum Haile received his grant through St Paul Housing Authority
Grum Haile had graduated from St. Cloud State University last winter, but had been unable to find any work in his field of Mechanical Engineering. Feeling discouraged , he decided to reach out for whatever assistance he could to find gainful employment. His life in Ethiopia was painful because of civil unrest. His father was killed by the government and as a young teen, and his mother sent him away because she feared for his life. He spent several years going from one refugee camp to another in Africa. Finally, ten years ago he was able to come to the U.S. He knew little English when he arrived, and since then, Grum not only learned English but also gained housing, employment, friends, and a new flourishing life. In addition, he completed college with a double major in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. Mr Haile was given the MicroGrants investment so that he could afford to take some courses teaching new engineering software programs. In June 2017, Grum got his first professional Engineering job.
Through months of struggle while looking for employment, Grum never lost sight of his goal to be an engineer. His persistence and hard work paid off, and he is totally grateful for the help that he has received having no family here he could rely on. In his words, “First of all, I would like to say thank you. This grant allowed me to get a Six Sigma Green belt (SSGB) and Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) certifications that are very important in the engineering profession (Especially for entry level engineer) and recently received my certificate. In the near future, I will also be completing my SSGB course and will receive my SSGB certificate after passing the exam.” We believe Grum exemplifies the term People of Potential!