Following a record-breaking season for the Nashville Predators on the ice, the Nashville Predators Foundation set their own record off of it.
The Foundation distributed 88 grants to Nashville and Middle Tennessee-based community service and charitable organizations on Tuesday morning, totaling $415,020.47, the largest single grant allocation in the Foundation’s history.
“The best part about today isn’t all the projects we’re going to fund that will touch a multitude of lives, it’s the connections that happen within here,” Predators Foundation President Sean Henry said. “[Charities talk] about the best benefit of the grant not being the money, but rather the connections that they made here with other organizations.”
One of those organizations receiving a grant from the Foundation this year is Rejoice Ballet, a group offering children of all ages the opportunity to gain instruction in classical ballet and dance, no matter their socioeconomic background.
“It’s just incredible,” Rejoice Ballet Executive Director Patricia Cross said of receiving a grant. “I know [the Foundation] works really hard to raise that money because I know what it’s like for us to raise the money…for them to give back to the community in the way they do is just a wonderful gift.”
Cross, who says she’ll use the $2,500 grant to provide dancewear to her students, is grateful for the Foundation helping her bring her passion to fruition.
“[The dancing] brings together just a beautiful, diverse community,” Cross said. “We have different races, different cultures and different socioeconomic communities, and when we can provide them with dancewear, it’s an equalizer; everybody’s the same.”
In addition to their own distribution, the Foundation partnered with The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for the first time, enabling Foundation grant recipients to put their grant money toward CFMT’s The Big Payback Campaign.
Running for 24 hours, midnight to midnight on May 5, The Big Payback is a 24-hour online giving event that CFMT uses to increase and encourage philanthropy in Middle Tennessee.
“With the state of the economy, these non-profits are trying to do a lot more with a lot less and it’s so important that we help them,” CMFT Communications Coordinator Tyler Nelson said. “Every nonprofit, whether you see it or not, they affect us…they do so much for us and that’s why we need to pay them back.”
Including Tuesday’s donation of more than $415,000 in the way of grants, the Foundation has distributed over $4.3 million in grants since the first year of giving after the 1998-99 season. In addition, the Foundation donated nearly $1 million in cash to Nashville and Middle Tennessee organizations during the 2014-15 season.
But as much as the monetary contribution is appreciated and needed, the positive transformation throughout the Nashville community coming courtesy of the Foundation’s interaction with those in need far exceeds any material gift.
“We want our dollars to be able to touch something that our fans or our players or our staff can go help and work and bring them to life,” Henry said. “Building this nonprofit guild that is growing faster than anything else, it’s pretty humbling to see that.”