Starting Right, Now Receives Humana Grant

October 10, 2014

A local charity has been named the proud recipient of a giant donation in the form of a grant from a national company.

According to a September 16 press release, the Tampa Palms-based charity Starting Right, Now (SRN — a nonprofit that works to eliminate homelessness among Tampa Bay-area youth), received this year’s Humana Communities Benefit charitable grant, a $350,000 donation from the Humana Foundation, the fifth year the company has made such donations.

SRN provides homeless teenagers with resources to get themselves on their own two feet, offering programs that include mentoring, employment and a stable home, as well as education in self-sufficiency and financial literacy. 

The press release states that SRN will use the money to help expand its housing facility for runaway children in Carrollwood, called Haven Poe. The donation is expected to help the facility be able to double the number of kids it currently can house. The release says that the organization also plans to restore a school in Pinellas County that will be used for dormitories, offices and a training center. Some of the money also will be used to purchase a vehicle to help get teens to medical appointments and mentorship programs.

“We’re confident that this $350,000 Humana Communities Grant will help us take a giant leap towards our goal of ending homelessness in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties,” said SRN founder and longtime New Tampa resident Vicki Sokolik in the release. “This generous funding will allow us to transform the lives of more than three times the number of teens we mentor each year and help us identify if this is a program we can implement outside of the Tampa Bay area.”

As we reported two issues ago, to win the grant, SRN had to collect online votes at the Humana Foundation’s website. SRN was up against two other Bay-area nonprofits — the Pinellas Education Foundation and Sunrise of Pasco, which provides violence intervention services. In addition to earning votes, SRN also had to make a formal presentation to a panel of judges made up of community leaders from around Tampa Bay.

SRN will receive the money in three installments over the next three years.

“By expanding their housing facilities, (SRN) will ensure that more homeless teenagers are provided with the fundamentals needed to focus on their personal development instead of survival,” said Humana’s Central & North Florida Vice President Al Hernandez. “Humana is pleased to support such a sustainable program, as we know this funding will help area youth maintain stable and healthy lives for years to come.”